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This summer has proven to be incredibly busy, much busier than I expected. A few weeks ago, I felt like the Lord was tapping me on the shoulder and telling me to get organized quickly and declutter as much as we can. We have some elderly family members who might need assistance, and we need to prepare for that possibility. So I have kicked myself into high gear, trying to school on our year-round schedule, do my job and handle the garden and daily chores in addition to the extra workload this presented. And we have managed to accomplish everything on a shoestring budget while we save for some needed car and home repairs.
Despite spending time gardening and even expanding our garden, we have lost most of what we planted. What the Mexican bean beetles and squash vine borers didn’t destroy, the chickens did when the town mowed down a post of our garden fence when they were tending the ditch with their machinery. The chickens got in and decimated what was growing in short order. What we have left is some green tomatoes we hope will ripen, about 5 sunflowers that are now over 10 feet tall, and we’re waiting now to see how the potatoes did. The onions are still tiny, despite supposedly being close to time to be pulled. We have replanted the winter squash on Monday and we’re now organizing to put the fall and winter garden in.
The last few weeks I have spent time at the farmer’s market, buying wholesale. The Lord has plopped some incredible deals on produce in our lap. While canning I worked a full week of VBS at our church and managed to wear myself out between the two. We processed our extra roosters over a period of two weeks and sent them to freezer camp. We cleaned out the freezer that needed defrosting and got everything organized in an effort to have enough space to hopefully purchase half of a cow this fall. I found I had one whole shelf full of stock bones that I need to use. I also got all of the remaining meats grouped by type, to better help me plan our meals and use what we have wisely.
I have started setting up ‘centers’ for everything I do at home, where everything needed for that project is centrally located to where the work is performed. I have created centers for laundry, baking, dry goods in use, personal care, herbs, school and work, gardening and more. This inspiration came from listening to Vicki Bentley at the NCHE conference Memorial Day Weekend. Vicki is an excellent speaker, and if you ever have the opportunity to hear her, I highly encourage you to do so. I would be willing to drive to a conference just to hear her speak, she gave so much inspiration, encouragement and practical advice. (You can purchase MP3s of Vicki’s presentations from the conference here.) Her chore and star chart information alone has been a huge help to me in getting my kids motivated to do chores and take initiative without being asked. Vicki said in one of her presentations that if you spend just 5 minutes looking for one item every morning and every evening, you waste over 60 hours a year. I have found that I am going up and down the hallway and the stairs too often because things are not centrally located, and I wish to free up that time so I can accomplish more.
For the baking and dry good centers, I took one cabinet and placed my measuring cups and measuring spoons along with mason jars of xanthan gum, salt, baking soda, baking powder on the bottom shelf. In racks hanging below the cabinet are all of my spices. Each spice has a label on the lid so I don’t have to hunt for the correct one. The rapadura, flours and dry goods are located behind me on a baker’s rack. Each item in stored in a quart to half-gallon size mason jar with a labeled lid. I do not have to take extra steps in the kitchen, saving me time and energy. We also reorganized and deep cleaned the kitchen.
For the laundry center, we reorganized the laundry room so that we now have a rotating system for the clothes hangers, separated by type. Each day when we get dressed, the empty clothes hangers get hung on each bedroom doorknob. One child is tasked with the chore of retrieving all of the clothes hangers, taking them downstairs and putting each hanger where it belongs. This has solved the problems with wrinkled clothing and additional ironing time because it had to be hauled up the stairs after coming out of the dryer while we hunt for the clothes hangers that fit the item. And you know any time kids haul a piece of clothing, it’s bound to wind up wrinkled. 😉 All of the different clothing and fabric types now each have their own bin to facilitate quick sorting and washing of the laundry. We finally installed the utility sink that we purchased in 2007 in the laundry room.
For our school supplies we use daily, we repurposed a rolling cart which is now located within reach of my computer. We also located a bookcase and the filing cabinet beside my desk in order to facilitate school, bill paying and handling my job. Now, when mail comes in, I can handle it immediately and drop it right into the correct file folder in the filing cabinet. Paper doesn’t have to be handled twice, nothing gets lost and I don’t worry about any bills or other important paperwork getting missed. We located a locking cabinet with doors in an unused area of the living room that holds shoe-box sized rubermaid containers. These boxes contain our items that are in pieces, such as the math blocks and flashcards, as well as the games and the small-piece items such as K-nex and Legos.
I updated my household binder (Flylady style) and created binders for family recipes, every mailer I have published, our school records, and the gardening and homesteading records. I also have one binder where I keep info on ideas or things I want to try, build plans for potential projects and the like.
I obtained two rolling carts, one for each child. These carts now hold the library books and are parked beside the homeschool cabinet. These carts are incredibly handy and stop the problem of having to haul the books to the car and into the library, breaking my back. This has just about eliminated our hunting for a book that is due and it keeps the books out of the kid’s bedrooms.
I created two memory card boxes. I used the Simply Charlotte Mason Memory System and made one for our scripture verses and made one for the myriad of other things I wish my children to memorize. We have included everything from family members phone numbers to poems, science and history facts, songs and more. These boxes set atop our rolling school supply cart.
I still have to get the dining room chairs recovered so we can reclaim our dining room table. We are also looking for an effective storage solution for our canning jars, both full and empty. Both of these projects are likely going to take some cash, so I’m looking for the most workable solution that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.
KerryAnn Foster runs Cooking Traditional Foods, the longest running Traditional Foods Menu Mailer on the internet. KerryAnn has over nine years of traditional foods experience and is a former Weston A. Price Foundation chapter leader. Founded in 2005, CTF helps you feed your family nourishing foods they will love. Each mailer contains one soup, five dinners, one breakfast, on dessert and extras. You can learn more about our Menu Mailers at the CTF website. For a free sample Menu Mailer, join our mailing list. You can also join our forum to chat with other traditional foodists and learn more.