Thursday, December 29, 2011

Setting goals for next year

Has anyone else been working on their goals for next year these past few days? I sure have. I've actually been working on designing a homemaking notebook to print & have bound, and some of the pages I'm including are lists of my goals for the year, and other detailed sheets related to my goals. There have been some really great blog posts floating around in the last couple days that I've found really helpful and timely.

Crystal at Moneysavingmom has written a series of great posts on time management which I have found helpful in the past, and this week she has written a couple more nice posts, one on how she decides her yearly goals which I found really useful as I was setting out my goals for 2012, and another one where she provided several useful goal-setting links, including a link to a post I really enjoyed on 7 habits of organized people. This evening I read another great post, and the bit that stuck with me was about not adding to your goals until you have finished what you started and done it well. This stuck with me because several of my goals for 2011 were met, but barely so. I'd already sort of started my 2012 goals to reflect a desire to become more proficcient at some of these barely met goals, but now I think I will go back through intentionally with that filter.

If you are thinking about intentionally setting some attainable goals for yourself for 2012, I really encourage you to check out these posts! I'll share more about my homemaking notebook in the days to come - I still need to finish up some final editing touches, print it all out, get some pages laminated, and have it bound!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Welcome back from the holidays!

Hello friends, we're just settling back into our regular routine after a great christmas break. I hope you all had great holidays too! I thought I would share some random pictures of the last week with you to give you a glimpse into our little life. Enjoy!

 My mother-in-law and I made cloth gift bags to use for our christmas gifts this year. Little M had to test them out with her Lizzy doll & sippy cup. They held up remarkably well (both for Lizzy & Christmas!). I'll share more about them later this week.

 The cloth bags all laid out.

 Little M got into some chocolate in Papa's stocking... her first toblerone experience!

 Playing with her keyboard from grammy.

 We've been playing 'tea' a lot lately, along with Scout & snowman, horsey & Lizzy doll.

 Setting out milk & cereal for Santa (cookies would have been too tempting for Little M right before bedtime!)

 Our tree & stockings.


Monday, December 19, 2011

Bookshelves at the end of the hall

So I was feeling a bit sluggish this weekend, and by the end of Saturday I had identified a possible reason: I really didn't have a good to-do list going. So Sunday morning rolled around, and I reluctantly sat down and ordered my to-do list and made sure to keep only 10 things on it, as I've been trying to do lately. I was doing pretty well on the list by around mid-day, too early for Little M's nap, but shortly after lunch and a very short walk attempt (Little M and I don't walk well lately, luckily a beautiful Harrier swooped along the hills beside us so her typical screaming breakdown on the way home was averted!).

But I still just felt off. I had started thinking earlier about what my next project would be, first trying to identify either the most problematic area or the area where improvements would make the most positive impact on me. So after I put Little M down for her nap (and sneakily turned a fan on across the hall from her door), I started measuring the space at the end of the hall for shelves!

When we first moved in and started decorating, the end of the hall was where we put the little shelves that my husband had had mounted in the entryway of our previous home when I met him. They were nice and all, but not really my taste back then, and as our decorating style has evolved over the last couple years,  not our style now. At first we thought a coat of paint over their plain white-ness would liven them up. But the more I thought about it, the more I fell in love with having a bookcase at the end of the hall.

Some more thinking and sketching out ideas led me to realize that unless I mounted full uprights to the existing side walls, so that shelves could be adjustable, there was no way I was going to get the built-in look I was going for with an actual bookshelf unit, based on the conflict with the trim of the adjacent doors. So I had put the idea on the back burner until the weekend, when I finally decided that just mounting little blocks of wood as supports on the side walls would be ok just mounted in the drywall (no studs to be found other than the ones covered by the door trim!).

After all, it wasn't like I was planning to put too many books or other heavy items up there, they were more meant to be decorative shelves with some books.

So in I dove.

First I measured the opening and decided that at the most I would want 5 shelves in the space. I went out to the garage and only had enough wood for 2 shelves, but I thought that was likely a good starting point, especially as I hadn't yet run the idea past my husband! I cut the 2 shelves to length from the 6x2 pine board I was going to use, and cut an additional 4 smaller chunks from the same board to be the supports.

I brought all the pieces of wood back to the house, checked that Little M was still sleeping soundly, and went to work on the sunporch sanding those boards down. I didn't want any sharp corners or edges. Once they were all smooth, I poked through my stash of screws and wall anchors and selected the right drill bit to pre-drill the support pieces. Around then Little M woke up, so she helped me with the rest of the project.

I decided based on the existing shelves where I wanted my lower shelf to go, and got that one set up. I was careful to keep checking that I was level, both front to back and side to side, as I installed that shelf.

I put some books and other items up on the shelf to see how it would look, and to get a feel for how much higher up the next shelf should go. Once I decided on about where I thought it should go, I put some other books up there to prop the next shelf up. That way I could step back a distance and see how it looked at that level. I then played around with the number of books until I got the right spot.

Then I installed the second shelf, again being very careful to install it level. I still will likely end up painting the shelves, and in fact have already tweaked the staging a bit since taking these pictures, so it will likely be a work in progress for a while. I also think I'll add one or two more shelves below these ones, to give more storage space and to make it look a bit more balanced. I'm really loving it, and no longer feeling 'off'! Next time I'll try to remember to do something creative that is small and simple enough to be done in the time I have :)

And even better - my husband likes it too!

Monday, December 12, 2011

This one's for GGma

Several weeks back, right in between two sets of friends visiting for week(plus)-long stays, I came home from work and walked through the hallway into the bathroom. Of course, there were stray toys underfoot, at least several (likely dirty) articles of clothes scattered in the bathroom, and I sat on the toilet and smiled to myself. This is what happiness is. A warm cozy home filled to the brim with all that family entails - complete with bath toys migrated out into the hallway past the bathroom, leftover kiddo pants on the floor from the last bath, and even a stray ball in the corner of the hallway bathroom.

Of course, a couple scant hours later I was remembering (and perhaps regretting!) those thoughts as I sat in the bathroom comforting a little girl getting (rather & repeatedly) sick for the first time in her life... Hmmf, I thought to myself, guess that shows me! She was a trooper throughout, and bounced back even the very next day, accompanying us out to do final cleanup in the fall garden, before she passed her sickness on to me, and I didn't bounce back quite so quickly!

Seriously though, this little family makes me so happy. Even with the occasional late night ER trips, snotty nose kisses, all night fussiness, and occasional puking episodes. Because throughout all of our everyday, this little family of mine makes me happy and content in that deep down warms your very soul sort of way. Not to say we don't argue and have bad days! We are only normal humans after all :)

Its things like random legos in the kitchen, hair clip flowers in the laundry machine, hair elastics on the back porch, that make me so happy for this little on in our lives that makes us more than just 2 people with too many dogs, but makes us a family. This little girl in our lives is the future, and today, and yesterday, she makes us so much more than the sum of our parts were before her. These are the things that keep us going even on the bad days, even when things happen before their time.

GGma, this one goes out to you. You read every post, and I often posted more regularly than I might have otherwise because I knew that these glimpses into Little M's life meant the world to you. I know this is a post you would have loved, because I know you felt the same joy to be with your family, and I'm sorry I didn't write it even a week ago, so that you could have read it. I consider myself lucky to have married into your loving family. We'll never forget the time we spent with you at duck camp this year, and are so glad that Little M got to spend as much time with you as she did. We miss you, and miss all that you were to our little family, and the larger clan that you were matriarch to. Gone but never forgotten.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Building chicken nesting boxes

As the time to when my little chickens would be all grown up approached, I started thinking more and more about the nest boxes I really needed to build for them. Luckily over the weekend before Thanksgiving I had enough time to build 4 boxes from plywood and scraps we had laying around the garage.

I did a bit of browsing around online for dimensions, and decided to build them approximately 11 inches deep & wide, and a bit taller - around 13 inches. Luckily I had just enough wood to build 2 nest box units, each having 2 nest boxes stacked on top of each other, with a deeper roof to provide a bit of an overhang. I cut the boards to the right dimensions on the table saw, then brought them in to the sunporch to assemble the boxes.

I used several clamps to hold the boxes square as I pre-drilled and then screwed the side boards on to the platform boards, and then carefully placed the nest area fronts on and pre-drilled and then screwed them onto the units too.

Right before we left for Thanksgiving weekend I ran out to the coop and installed one of the nest boxes, by pre-drilling through the side of the nest box and into a wall 2 by 4 and then putting a screw through. That way the plywood exterior wall of the coop would serve dual purpose as the back of the next box too! Just in case those sneaky little hens were waiting for a nice nest box to lay me some cute little eggs, they might be tempted to start while I was gone. No such luck, and still no eggs yet, but I'm ever hopeful :)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Our Backyard Chickens

It's been months since I last shared photos of our chickens with you, so I thought it was time for an update!

They are getting really big, and should be laying any day now. We haven't been supplementing with any heat or light, so that may delay the start of laying, but we're ok with that. We want to see which breeds do the best here without supplementation, so we're ok with getting eggs a bit later than we otherwise would.

Of our 8 breeds that we chose (2 each of Americauna, Ancona, Silver Laced Wyandotte, Speckled Sussex, Buff Orpington, Black Australorp, Barred Rock, and Rhode Island Red), only 2 have had deaths - an Americauna and an Ancona have died. The chickens are all in together, which right now means that our 3 remaining meat chickens are in with the layers. In the future, we'll never ever do this again unless we absolutely have no other choice. Those meat chickens are MEAN and really aggressive! When either my husband or I goes in to feed the birds, the meat chickens are the only birds who come right up and attack us for the food or water dish we are bringing in. The layers come up to us too, but have never pecked at us. I think the 2 dead layers got trampled by the meat chickens. Its hard to tell from a trampled chicken body what the cause of death was of course, but that's what I suspect.

The remaining 14 birds are doing really well though. They are loving all the scraps we feed them and have been learning to brave the snow and ice in their outdoor run. I've been pretty impressed with how they've been doing with the cold temperatures - we've had night temperatures down almost to zero degrees (and that's in Fahrenheit - so well below freezing!). Keep in mind their coop isn't insulated, and even when we close their door to the outside run there are obvious gaps in several places in the old, thin plywood walls.

While some days I wonder whether the chickens are worth it financially for the meat & eggs, they are a great pet-like addition to our property, and good experience for us going forward hoping to grow & raise more and more of our own food ourselves. I'm linking up to the homestead barn hop today - so head on over there and see what other homesteads have been up to in the past week!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...