Thursday, February 28, 2013

Blog Planner REVIEW-

As a member of Mosaic Reviews, my first task was to get organized and plan my blog a bit more intentionally (still working on that part, in case you haven't noticed!).  We were all given a list of planners to choose from for our use and to review. 

Being a simple, practical, no fuss, no frills kind of gal, this was quite the challenge for me! I didn't need a planner, I was sure of it.  I would be wasting my time.  I don't need another planner.  Or do I?!?!

All of the options were beautiful, with so many great benefits.  I was, however, clearly able to decide on the one that fit me the best among the choices.  Erica over at Confessions of a Homeschooler "gets" me.   She doesn't know me, but she gets me, I know it!  (Yes, that is my attempt at humor, just go with it!)  She has 2 options to choose from, the lined version or the calendar version.   The 2013 Blog Planner FREE Printable is another of Erica's generous gifts to her readers.

 I am very visually oriented, so I opted for the calendar version.  Neat, simple, clean.  And those flowers and swirls on the cover?  WHIMSICAL!  It fit! I love having the simple, open up the planner and I can see my entire month in one quick visual "snapshot".  The simple style choices that were made in the design fit well to keep this planner on track.  I can't tell you how helpful it is to see the month on one side and the notes page on the other.

When I made mine, I had to go "official" and make it look nice as she suggested in her post. I am sure it is much more durable this way too, but I have been taking great care to protect mine.  It's pretty.  And it's mine!  I took it to an office place, had it printed there with card stock covers and the clear protective page and had it spiral bound...with those options, it made it "mine".  It made it more fun (work should always be as fun as you can make it, you know!).  I could have printed at home, but I will confess.  I tried.  I hated the print quality of my printer.  The graphics are too nice for a standard, plain, cheap ink jet printer to do them justice.  They would have been functional, but in this case, I wanted more than just function.  I wanted the appeal to go with it.

One of the features that I really appreciated is that each month has its own color.  As you can see, I haven't planned July just yet ;)  The month shows on the left, with boxes to check to indicate that you have posted/scheduled your blog post, to show that you have sent through your various social media outlets, and to have a bit of space to write anything pertinent for each date.  On the right, there are lines for reviews and giveaways, post ideas, and monthly statistics.
This one little part stuck out to me.  It *NEVER* occurred to me to start tracking my statistics.  Ok, I have been blogging for several years, but never intentionally to a general audience.  I've always had a captive audience and blogged for business purposes or for groups where I was acting as the news reporter.
The layout of this particular planner is neat, tidy, and to the point.  I pondered what I may use, and the reality is, I have had to train myself to just use the basics.  It isn't natural.  I am a fly by the seat of my pants kind of person more often than not, and it is hard work to plan.  I was wrong.  I DO need a planner.  Now I just need someone to remind me to use it and to actually plan more often until it becomes habit.

Did I happen to mention that she offers this planner for FREE?!?!  The only cost to you is the ink and the paper.  Unless you do as I did, and then you pay a bit more.  I upgraded the paper quality to be a bit more, and with double sided printing, binding, the extra plastic protectors, and covering the costs of some errors that the printing person made, it was still under $10.  To get your own planner, go to her page and download it.  You know you want to.  Find it right here. And while you are over there?  Take a look around, she has a TON of free printables that you could probably use and enjoy.  As well.  As I blog more, I may want more features in a planner, but I really do like this one just the way it is!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Taking the time to smell the...never mind! STAY WARM!

We can't really stop and smell the roses when it is -15f outside, but we sure can admire the beauty of things after the blizzard we had yesterday.  We just took a slow day today.  The little boys did reading lessons and the big people enjoyed a quiet day. 

We found these beautiful spider webs in the porch, covered with snow.  Nice, huh?  If we had swept them away, we'd not have been able to see their current beauty. 

And look at the snow clinging to the screen and the tree beyond.  I love this "aftermath" of a good blizzard!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Snow Day!

It was windy and cold outside, but today was warm and fuzzy inside.  While the blizzard piled the snow up high in the back yard, we worked on making memories.

 It all started with a yummy and colorful breakfast.  Green and orange bell peppers, tomatoes, onions and scrambled eggs.  Love on a plate on a gloomy day!

We made it through morning chores and spent the rest of our morning having free time.  We opted for a lunch of sandwiches and spent our afternoon watching documentaries on Frank Lloyd Wright.  We discussed the similarities of our house and many of the design elements that came to be his signature components.  We discussed how we'd like to have a dream house like Fallingwater or to go see Taliesin in Wisconsin.  We discussed our plans for snow forts and sledding.  Before we knew it, the daydreaming had used up most of our daylight!

Then came supper time and what better time to have a warm, "home made" soup than on a blustery winter day?!?!  Chicken noodle soup with vegetables.  And did I mention home made, FRESH noodles?  Yeah, we did.  They really are simple, why do we keep forgetting that and buying noodles from the store?  I don't know.  This was my daughter's first time making noodles, and what better way to learn than to just do it!

Our recipe was simple:
To make the noodles, crack 2 eggs in a bowl, sift one cup of flour over them and mix well.  Roll out on a floured surface and cut.  Simple, easy, rewarding.  And it took only 15 minutes. 

While the noodles were being made?  I boiled 3 quarts of chicken broth with 1 cup dehydrated mixed veggies, and about 2 tablespoons of dried onions and a cup and a half of chicken breast.  Once that was boiling well, we tossed in the noodles and cooked it until they floated. 
 Tomorrow, we dig out.  Maybe.  Or we might just find another old family tradition to pull out of our hats and share with the kiddos!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A place of peace and contemplation

 While spending time in Minnesota in the winter, it is easy to find yourself being dragged down by the weather.  On a day when this is what it looks like outside:

Along with snow and -20F temperatures at night, it is easy to find places inside that can warm the spirit.  A recent journey to the Mayo Clinic introduced me to one such place.  Among the various subway tunnels and art and historical displays, the powers that be at Mayo have created some spaces that are just relaxing and restful.  On this particular day, while it was barely safe to walk outside due to the freezing rain, I happened across this beautiful piece of stone:

 This lovely work of art was found in a beautifully large room full of many, many live plants and trees.  What a welcome sight this time of year!  What a relaxing place for a weary soul!

The skylights top it all off nicely, even on a gloomy rainy day.  While my photography skills are very amateur, the sentiment carried well for me.  In my time in that atrium, I spent some time reading.  Some time crocheting.  And even a bit of time watching others come and go and enjoy the quiet peace of this room.  Those who come and go at the Mayo Clinic tend to be there because of difficult things going on with themselves or a loved one.  Such is the case with my own family, but this place brings a special comfort.  Not just in this atrium, but in many of the various buildings and walk ways.  Over the years, we have found many favorite spots to sit and relax.  I hope to share more with you in the future.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Want to know about some great products?

Stay tuned to the blog and check in often!  There are several companies that I will be working with over the next several weeks.  I know many of my friends will LOVE some of these items or be glad to hear more!  Some of my reviews will be personal, some will be for Mosaic Reviews.  If you haven't heard me say it yet, Mosaic Reviews is still accepting applications for new team members.

The Application can be found on under the Team Applications tab at the top of the page.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Did you see it? Homeschool Mosaics published my article!

I was honored and humbled to be a guest poster over at Homeschool Mosaics today.  I have been writing and having articles published in various places and in print for more than 20 years, but the first time in each new place is always special.  Please, take the time to look and share your thoughts. 

I am a little late getting the word out to all of my friends, but you can find the article here: 
Homeschool Mosaics

I thank you all for your support and choosing to read my work.  It blesses me greatly to share with others!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

What better way to spend the day?

Than to spend it next to this lovely warm creature?!?!  Especially when you can snuggle with a giggly little one with a good book to read or movie to watch and your favorite warm drink.  During various conversations about the temperatures that we see in the winter, people will often ask how on earth I can survive the cold.  *THIS* is how I survive the cold.  Truth be told?  I *LIVE* for the cold for this very thing.  A day to stop the outside world, be close to those you love, to relax, and to soak it all in next to a warm fire.  Of course, today isn't that day, but I can always look at this wonderful stove and be happy and warm and fuzzy inside knowing that I will have a date with its glorious heat again one day very soon.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Winter Wonderland

I love looking at pictures that my kids take.  The views, the angles, the small things that I always seem to not notice around me until they point them out.  Somehow, they still see magical, curious things where I see tall grass that needs trimming, trees that need pruning, and brush that needs to be cleared.  They see "diamonds" on the ground with fresh, sparkly snow.  They see "crystal wands" on blades of frozen grass.  And oh, the sparkles from the ice coated trees!  They make prisms all over the place.  What beautiful things we see around us while we still have imagination and a care free mind!