Friday, September 25, 2009

Fall Cleaning/the bedrooms/other tips for moving into fall

Hello, everyone:

We're moving into fall. For your book of days, here are some ideas:

1) Take photos of your yard each week through the fall season and paste in your book. Or, take one a month for the next three months.
2) Jot down sights and smells of fall that delight you.
3) Write about how it feels to have accomplished a fall project.
4) Record anything sweet, cute, funny, or inspiring that your husband and children say.

For your home economics book, here's some ideas:

Continue to work out your plan for the fall. Jot down some fall recipes. Study what produce is available in your area during the autumn and make a menu plan that incorporates those foods.

The holidays are coming. Inventory your gift wrapping supplies. Do you have holiday papers? Do you need tape, labels, mailing paper, boxes, gift bags, ribbon, gift tags, etc.? Now's a great time to make sure that your holiday gift wrapping supplies are in order. Later on, when the holidays are nearer, bring out the materials you have put together this week and set up a holiday gift wrapping station. Be sure it's out of reach of little hands and pet. (I put my supplies in the corner of our bonus room.) Visit the dollar store for inexpensive wrapping supplies. Also, if you bought holiday papers or ribbons at an after-Christmas sale last year, make sure you know where you stored them!! Sometimes, Christmas items bought at after-Christmas sales don't make it into your regular Christmas storage, especially if you buy them after you have already cleaned up all of your holiday stuff.

Don't forget about Thanksgiving cards or Christmas cards if you use them.

If you plan to write a Christmas letter, start thinking of ideas.

The earlier you can be prepared, the smoother the holiday season will be. Fall is a busy, busy time for most keepers at home, so do the best you can with the time you have.

Are you still doing your fall cleaning? Now's a great time to reorganize and thoroughly clean your bedrooms.

Let's start with the master bedroom. This is either the room you share with your beloved spouse or the room where you sleep. A cluttered bedroom isn't conducive to either rest or romance. Yet, so often, we let the master bedroom become the catchall room. We've talked about that before, but now that we're moving into fall, it's time to take another look at this important room.

Here is a sample deep-cleaning plan for the master bedroom. You can either take a couple of intense days to do this or you can break it down into steps and spread those steps over a longer period of time. You can also adapt it to your needs. Everyone will have her own unique priorities for the bedroom.

1) Pick up any items that are out of place. Check the dresser, the floor, the nightstands, the bed, under the bed, etc. Throw away things that you do not use anymore. Throw away those little bits of trash that seem to collect on the floor of a bedroom and in little nooks. Put things that you want to use, but that either do not belong in the bedroom or that you want to move to another location in a box. Now's not the time to run all over the house to put those things away; you can do it when you are finished with the room. Put away clean clothes; wash any dirty items you may have found.
2) Dust down the ceiling, walls, corners, and baseboards of the room. If you have a ceiling fan in your room, dust that as well.
3) Rotate and/or flip your mattress so that it will wear evenly and not just in certain spots. This will prolong the life of your mattress. Vacuum your mattress. Wash all the bedding while you have everything off. If you haven't already switched to fall bedding, do that. For some of us, that simply means adding one extra blanket -- even a thin one. For those who live on cold climes, you may have a completely different set of bedding for fall than you do for winter.
4) Take down curtains or drapes and clean them or else vacuum them in place.
5) Dust all surfaces, furniture, etc. Polish furniture if desired. Repair any knicks or spots on furniture. Wash and iron and replace dresser scarves, etc.
6) Dust and clean knickknacks.
7) Make a note to turn the master bedroom clocks when the daylight savings time deadline arrives.
8) Clean the flooring in your bedroom according to what type it is. (hardwood, carpet, etc.)
9) Go through your lingerie. Toss out anything that doesn't look fresh anymore. Replace what you need to replace. Think ahead to cool weather. Do you need tights? Warm undergarments? A pretty nightie in a beautiful fall color?
10) Check hats, gloves, etc. If you store your coats in your closet, see if they need cleaning or any repair.
11) Do you wear jewelry? If you do, this is a good time to inventory it. Toss out or give away anything you don't wear anymore. Clean items that need cleaning. Does your wedding ring or engagement ring need maintenance? If so, take it in. Do you need to have any necklaces restrung? Do you need to untangle chains, get rid of that odd earring that no longer has a mate, etc.? Tip: Old costume jewelry can be a fun thing for your daughters to play with as is age appropriate.
12) We already talked about changing your wardrobe for fall. For those of us who are still in hot weather, that might mean simply putting away our most summery things right now. A good many people in the U.S. live in areas where three-season clothing can be worn almost year round. Some people like to dress in fall colors in the autumn. Others prefer to wear the colors that look best on them or are their favorites year round. It is your choice.
13) Polish fall shoes and handbags.
14) If you need to alter or mend autumn/winter clothing, now is a good time to do it or have it done. Do it before cold weather sets in! You may also want to have this chore out of the way before the holidays come, as well.
15) Do you want to paint your bedroom? Do you want to update it in any way? Make a list of things you'd like to do for your master bedroom and work it into your budget and into your calendar. It's probably best to do small things right now, as you might not want to be in the middle of a big painting job when the holidays roll around.
16) Do you have a master bathroom attached to your bedroom? Inventory towels and other needs. Add what you need. Throw away anything you don't want. Clean out all of the drawers and cabinets in your bathroom.
17) Polish or paint cabinets to freshen them, if you like.
18) Give your bathroom a thorough cleaning.
19) If you have bathroom curtains, clean them.
20) Replace shower curtain liner if appropriate.
21) Does your master shower or bath need re-caulking?
22) Clean bath mats
23) Clean tile. Do you need to re-grout the tile or clean the grout?
24) After cleaning thoroughly, polish translucent shower doors with something like Turtle Wax. This will prevent soapy build-up and make them easier to clean.
25) Clean and polish baseboards.
26) Do you have plants in bed or bathroom? Do they need re-potting?
27) Clean brushes, combs, hair tools, hair accessories

If you need to use your master bedroom for a double purpose, find creative ways to organize so that the purpose of your bedroom -- rest, relaxation, and, if you are married, romance -- is still the focus. Many people can't find any office or sewing or exercise space anywhere but in their master bedroom. If this is the case for you, do the best you can to keep your office/sewing materials neat so that they don't add clutter to the bedroom. Perhaps, you could make a screen or a curtain of some kind to partition off the area of your bedroom used for another purpose.

Follow the same cleaning method above for the other bedrooms in your home. Assign chores to children who are old enough to participate in this fall cleaning/re-organization.
If children have some ideas for creatively making their room their own, work with them to carry their ideas out as is appropriate for your budget and time.

If you are lucky enough to have a guest bedroom, be sure to include items that your guests will need. Also put out some interesting reading material or even pretty coffee-table style books. Provide a few sheets of stationary and some envelopes, as well as a pen. Make sure there is some space in a closet for hanging clothing and in a drawer for placing folded clothing.

Many of us use our guest rooms for a double purpose. It is probably better to do this with a guest room than your master bedroom, if at all possible. Again, be creative with storage ideas so that the room has a restful, rather than busy or cluttered, feeling.

Here are a few videos that give tips and ideas for bedrooms. Please note that just because I have put the video on here doesn't mean that I necessarily endorse everything in the video. These do, however, give some tips which you can use according to your discretion.

How to organize clothing drawers, especially when you share space with your husband.

How to organize kid's room:

How to fold hoodies so you can put them in drawers:

How to fold socks so that they fit well in drawers:

Woman who organized her closet to look like a boutique:

Ideas for organizing accessories:

Idea for a teenaged girl's room:

Another idea for a teenaged girl's room:

How to fold towels for bathroom:

Another method of folding towels:

How to fold your bedsheets:

How to make a bed:

How to turn a mattress:

How to put on a heavy blanket:

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Fall cleaning/laundry organization/carpet terms

Here are a few more terms for our home economics glossary. These are related to carpets:

Berber -- a type of loop-pile carpet style. It is tufted with thick yarn such as wool or nylon or olefin. The Berber carpet may have random specks of color which contrast with the base hue. Berber carpeting gives an informal and casual look, yet it has a full and comfortable feel.
Luster -- brightness or sheen of carpets, fibers, yarns, or fabrics.
Pile -- the visible surface of a carpet -- It is made of yarn tufts in looped or cut fashion. Synonyms are nap or face.
Pile crush -- This is when the pile falls due to heavy traffic or wear. The pile loses thickness because the the tufts collapse into the air space between them. Sometimes, this is irreversible. However, regular vacuuming can help to keep the pile lifted so that the pile either does not crush to begin with or perhaps fluff up pile which has fallen.
Plush - Plush carpeting has a luxurious and smooth-textured curface. The individual tufts are only slightly visible. The overall appearance looks like a single level of yarn ends. This is usually a cut pile carpet, rather than a looped one.
Looped pile -- carpet pile made of uncut loops. This may be tufted or woven.
Tufted -- carpet made by pushing tufts of yarn through a carpet backing fabric.
Twist -- the twisting of yarn around itself. The twist should be neat and well-defined. A tighter twist increases the durability of the carpet.

On with fall cleaning --

How's your fall cleaning coming? This week, turn some attention to your laundry area. Make sure it's neat. Throw away any old products that you know you won't use. Clean washer and dryer. Clean the floor. Sweep between and around washer/dryer. Take a week or so to make your laundry area shine.

You will spend a lot of time in your laundry area. Make it as pleasant as you possibly can. Some will find it easy, as they have large laundry rooms that have the possibility for organizing and decorating beautifully. Other may find that their washer and dryer are tucked away in a less than pretty area. Even if you can't think of many ways to make your laundry area a lovely and inspiring place, try hanging up one painting, cross-stitch, or other cheerful item just to have a pretty focal point.

Try out these links for some laundry room inspiration:

Real Simple

Personal Organizing

Home and Garden

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Fall Cleaning

It's time to move on in our quest to organize our home for fall.

1) How are your recipes? Are they organized or scattered? Do you have a system for keeping recipes that aren't in cookbooks? Most people today like to keep them on their computers. However, if you, like me, don't care to lug your laptop to the kitchen or don't have a computer in your kitchen already, you might want to come up with another system. We discussed some ways to keep recipes and meal plans earlier in the course, but it's probably time to check again to make sure that things haven't gotten out of order.

2) How's your coat closet? Is it ready for fall wear? Do you have a boot or shoe mat for rainy days? Do you need one?

3) How's your car? Do you need to clean out junk? Is the interior clean? How about the exterior? A warm fall day is a great time to wash your car yourself. Do you need to add a trash sack to your car? How about an organizer for stuff that you usually carry? In what condition is the glove compartment? While you're at it, what about car maintenance? If your husband normally does the car maintenance, is there anything you need to ask him or tell him about how your car has been running?

My father in law was in the hospital over the holiday weekend suffering greatly from an infection he caught while in the hospital earlier for surgery. I've learned a lot about hospital-related infections, which have generally become strong and resistant to both antibiotics and cleaners. Be sure when visiting someone in the hospital to sanitize your hands -- both for the patient's sake and your own. Be aware that sinks, water fountains, and other moist places can harbor some of these hospital infections. There's no need to be freaked out about that, but do clean your hands as is appropriate and follow other precautions for avoiding disease.

In a time of illness, it's so nice to have a hand-sewing, knitting, or crocheting project to take along with you. My mother-in-law crocheted some cute hats to donate to chemo patients while she was sitting with my father-in-law. Sometimes, illnesses involve long periods of waiting, and it's helpful to have something for your hands to do.

Happy Home Keeping!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Labor Day

Don't forget that we will pass the Labor Day milestone this weekend. If you are of a traditional mindset, as I am, you will put away your brightest, lightest summer whites no matter what the outdoor temperature is. That especially includes bright summer white shoes, sandals, and purses. You will probably also put away your most summery looking prints, particularly if those prints show a lot of white background. True white blouses and T-shirts are appropriate any time of year, particularly if they have a bit longer sleeve, so you don't need to be concerned about those.

Of course, this is a cultural norm and a changing one at that, so no one's going to turn you into the fashion police if you prefer to keep wearing your whites. It is entirely a personal decision.

There is, however, some merit to the idea of dressing with seasonal colors in mind, even if you live in areas where the seasons don't really change that much. The fact is, bright white sandals and shoes do not look fresh with our more fall colored items -- even if those items are of a lightweight fabric. Even if you dress in your favorite colors year-round, as I do, you may still find that you look and feel fresher if you put away your brightest, lightest whites for the season.

Note that soft white, winter white, ivory, buff, oyster, champagne white, eggshell, and the like are lovely year round. However, even at that, you might want to pair these with slightly darker shoes, though, of course, it all depends on the overall look of the outfit. These soft or off whites are as flattering -- if not more so -- to the complexion as true bright white is. If you like the wonderful effect of wearing white, use these whites instead of bright white in the fall and winter months. Again, note that you can always wear a true white blouse with any outfit, provided that the cut of the blouse is appropriate to the outfit. However, unless you are one of the lucky 1/4 of the population that wears white well, you might consider using soft white even for blouses. This is particularly true during the cooler months, when you might not have as much sun-kissed color in your cheeks

When should you break out your summer whites again? Miss Manners would tell you that you should not don them one minute before next Memorial Day. She would tell you to wear bone shoes or a bone purse in the spring. I, on the other hand, side with the tradition of Easter as being fair game for wearing summer white -- weather permitting.

So, one of the first things to consider when looking at your wardrobe during our 12 week mission is whether or not you'd like to put away your most summery items for the time being.

Some summer clothing has a season-less look and can be worn until the weather turns too cold to wear your lightest weight items. You can extend your summer wear by pairing summer items with fall-weight or fall-colored items. For example, some summer skirts and blouses look lovely when paired with a light-weight sweater or jacket. Though this year may be the exception to the rule, we usually have a long, long fall here, and people can usually wear short sleeves, summer weight fabrics, summer capris, etc., for weeks and weeks to come. Even so, I stop wearing the most summery looking items of clothing after Labor Day. For example, I will put away my white capris, but continue to wear my khaki ones for a while.

Don't forget to clean your white clothing, white shoes, and white purses before retiring them for the season. Even if you continue to keep them in your regular closet, rather than storing them away, be sure that you leave them fresh and clean. You don't want to reach for them on a beautiful spring day next year, only to find that stains have set in and the item is no longer wearable. You should also take care of any raveling, missing buttons, etc. Tending to that now means that your wardrobe will be spring-ready. Also, if you clean your summer items thoroughly now that will keep these items smelling sweeter, which also makes for a sweeter smelling closet and/or storage area.


Moving right along --

I'm going to post a lot to make up for not having blogged as much during the summer. Remember our motto: Work at your own pace!! Don't feel obliged to keep up with my posts.

If you read my last post, you know that we've embarked on a 12-week fall cleaning plan. The first step was to go through the house and identify all of the things you would like to accomplish during these 12 weeks (or however many weeks you would like to devote to this.)

Here's our second step: We're going to deal with surface clutter before we get started on deeper organizing and cleaning. The neaties among us are asking, "What surface clutter?" The mostly efficient look around and see a few things to put away in their otherwise orderly house. The overwhelmed might be thinking, "Where on earth do I start to clear away all that clutter."

It doesn't matter where you're starting from. Set a timer for an hour and work at your own pace to clear away clutter and put things back in their place. If all you can find is one little scrap of paper that's fallen at the back of your closet, throw that away and enjoy the rest of the hour doing whatever you'd like. If you work for an hour and you don't feel as if you've even made a dent in things, that's okay. Stop and take a break. Whether your house is perfect or out of control or somewhere in between, limit this exercise to an hour. After the hour is up, either rest for a few minutes or move on to the other activities of your day. If you have children in the home who are old enough to help, enlist them in doing an hour with you. Think how much all of you will accomplish in one hour!

Concentrate first on the visual clutter -- the things that you can obviously see are out of place. If your house has no visual clutter, jump to suggestion number 4 in the list below.

If you like, you can carry a basket with you as you move about the house. You can put stuff in it that needs to go into another room. Work one room at a time, if you like. Then, when you reach a room, glance inside your basket to see if you have any items in there that need to go in their place in this room.

The point of this exercise is not to think too much about it, but to get as much as you can done in one hour. If you need trouble deciding where to put your priorities, here are a few suggestions:

1) How's your laundry situation? Now's not the time to start a new load. But, if you have a load folded and ready to put away, put it away. Also, if there are worn clothes that didn't make it into the dirty hamper, either get those into the hamper or have the person who wore them do this.
2) How's your entry way? Have you and others dropped keys, papers, books, shoes, etc. here? Tidy up anything that's out of order.
3) Take one surface at a time -- a dresser top, a counter top, a nightstand, the top shelf of a bookshelf, your mantel, etc. Tidy that surface and then move on to the next. For those who are organizationally challenged, concentrating on smaller visual areas is easier than sizing up a whole room or house. Count a room's floor as a surface, as well. You can even break down a floor into smaller visual areas: the floor on your side of your bed, the floor at the bottom of the bed, the floor underneath the bed, etc.
4) If your house is already fairly orderly and you'd like to get the jump on our fall cleaning project, here are some ideas: neaten out a jewelry box. Or, go through your unmentionables and toss anything that is too worn to be pretty any more. Or, send off a few of those cards and letters you've been meaning to get to. Any light organizing that you can do now will help you prepare for a thorough fall cleaning. Even cleaning a purse or going through your coupons counts.
5) How are your bathrooms? Are the towels crumpled or tidy? Are they clean or fresh? Have people left grooming aids out on the surfaces?

Remember, if your house has gotten away from you in the past few weeks or months, concentrate on the things that are visibly out of place. Unless your house is visually tidy, this is not the time to organize a closet or re-arrange your kitchen.

Taking care of visible clutter gives us peace of mind, and it also cuts down on a feeling of being overwhelmed. Starting out with some visually tidy and appealing surfaces will energize us as we go on to other projects.

Would you like to help teach the Home Economics Project? Here's how you can participate.

1) Do a craft project, photographing each step in your process. Post it on your blog, and leave me a note about it in the comments section of this article. I will then post a link to your site so that we can all visit and learn from you.
2) Cook a favorite recipe. Either list the recipe and ingredients in the comment section or post photos of you preparing the dish on your site. Again, I can post a link to your site so that we can all visit you.
3) Show us before and after photos of a space in your home, garage, or yard that you have organized, tidied, or otherwise beautified.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Back at Class -- Renewing our Home Economics Project for the Fall

Can you believe it's September first already? It's time to get back to our Home Economics classes. We'll finish up projects we started during the spring and summer and move on to new heights in our strive to be excellent home keepers.

First, here's a link to an interesting article about how younger Australian women are largely yearning to be home keepers, while older Australian women see this a bit differently. A great exercise for our home economics notebooks would be to watch the video or read the transcript and ponder what your own goals in life are. You might also think about what cultural influences factor into your outlook. Take an honest appraisal of whether or not you see being a keeper at home your full time or part time occupation and whether you see it as drudgery or as a joy. There's not a write or wrong answer here. Just think about where you are in this spectrum and why. Note: The views in this article are just a snapshot, and the people who are interviewed are just representative of different views. The particulars might be vastly different for different people. Also, no mention of faith is mentioned in the decision making process for any of the women. So, write out what your own personal convictions are.

On to organization: It's time to do a fall cleaning!
Of course, you may live in a place like I do, where cold weather is still a long way off. Where I live, even in the winter, we have many mild days when its still possible to air rooms, dry items outside, and clean windows. However, September is still a great to get a jump on getting things in order before the season changes and before the string of fall holidays arrives.

Why do a fall cleaning?

Here are some reasons why fall is an important time to start a week by week sprucing up of your home. I've listed them roughly according to what your geographic situation might be:

For everyone:

1) Twice a year, it's a good idea to take inventory of your pantries, utility closets, and items in your storage areas. This doesn't have to be a written inventory, though it can be. You just need to make sure that items in these areas are clean, neatly organized, and that you have refreshed your memory about items in storage. Closets have a way of getting out of order, so some twice yearly tweaking is a good thing.

2) Twice a year, it's good to evaluate your family's health and nutritional needs. Does anyone need a checkup? If you live in an area with very defined seasons, will you be moving from heavier, warmer foods to lighter, cooler foods or vice versa? What foods are in season in your area? What about things like eye wear, dental care, etc.?

3) Do you need to start now to prepare for upcoming holiday festivities, especially if you will be hosting large gatherings at your house or having company in? Some of us have more fun during the holidays if we get a lot done ahead of time.

4) Twice a year, it's great to clean or vacuum curtains and draperies to cut down on dust, pet dander, etc. It's also good to pay a little extra attention to carpets, rugs, etc. Also, rotate mattresses, vacuum mattresses, and, when appropriate, change bedding to what is appropriate for the season. If you have been using a lightweight spread during the summer for example and you live where the winters are hard, you need to select a time when you will change to warmer bedding.

5) Do you have a schedule for maintenance during the next few months? Do you need to have your air system serviced and checked? Will you be closing down a garden or starting one, depending on where you live. Does your car need maintenance.

6) I consider this to be the most important item that needs attention: Twice a year, it's good to take stock of your household's clothing, as well as your own. What needs mending? What needs a once a year dry cleaning? Is something so faded or worn that it needs to be eliminated from your closet? What about socks, underwear, etc. Have your children grown out of their clothing in the past six months? Have you lost or gained weight? Are your closets and drawers organized and clean? Of course, you tend to these things on a year round basis, but taking a twice a year look at your family's clothing inventory helps you stay on top of your family's clothing needs.

Note: You do not have to accomplish all of these tasks right away. Break down your fall to-do list into small tasks and spread them out on your calendar so that you do not become overwhelmed. Allow yourself ten to twelve weeks to accomplish everything on your list. I'll be posting weekly action items that you can use as inspiration for your own ideas.

She extends her hand to the poor, And she stretches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of the snow for her household, For all her household are clothed with scarlet.
She makes coverings for herself; Her clothing is fine linen and purple. Proverbs 31

A) Northern Hemisphere -- from coldest clime down to the sub-tropical areas that have at least a slight seasonal variation. In the northern hemisphere, we move from our warmest to our coolest temperatures over the next six months. For some of us, we are headed for an early, long, consistent winter while others of us may experience only a cool snap here and there.

In Great-grandma's day spring cleaning was the most important cleaning season of the household. This was because the methods of heating and cooling, as well as cooking, used back then created soot, grime, and a stale feeling during the winter. Now, if you live in a modern home or a modernized home and you clean well all year long, you might or might not experience the winter staleness that Great-grandma had to battle. The harder your winters are, the more likely you are to need an old fashioned house cleaning in the spring.

Nowadays, however, fall can be the time when our house most needs attention. All summer long, our families have been tracking in dust, pollen, etc. Our pets have shed down to their lightest coat. We might have spent more time outdoors doing fun things or gardening or, if we live on a farm, helping with farm chores. Plus, during late summer and early fall, extra pollens are in the air, which might irritate allergies in susceptible family members or even in pets. Our lawns have been mowed frequently, which can add to the stuff tracked inside. Windows may have become streaked from summer dust and summer rains. Even clean looking curtains might be harboring dust, dust mites, pet hairs, and pollens. All of this adds up to the fact that our homes might be less than fresh now that the summer bustle is settling down. Even if you have kept on top of your cleaning all summer long, you might want to do some extra, deep cleaning now before heading into a colder season.

The cleaning expert Don Aslett maintains that a fall cleaning is actually more important nowadays than a spring cleaning.

B) Tropical climes in both northern and southern hemispheres. You do not experience a change of seasons. Perhaps, you have rainy times and dry times. The rainy times bring their own home keeping challenges. Perhaps, your weather is pretty much the same all year round. Still, you might think in terms of breaking down deep cleaning tasks into quarterly or semi-annual times of evaluation and action. Or, you might simply work deep cleaning into your year-round schedule.

C) Southern hemisphere -- from coldest clime to semi-tropical areas with slight seasonal variations. Those who live in the southern hemisphere are moving from colder to warmer. Fall cleaning in the southern hemisphere prepares the home for warm weather, just as a spring cleaning does in the northern hemisphere. The tasks of deep cleaning and organizing are similar, though, not matter what the weather is like. So, if you are in the southern hemisphere, follow along with us. Just know that when we move from lighter clothing to heavier and cooler bedding to warmer, you will be doing the opposite. You will be celebrating many of the same fall and winter holidays, so you can follow along as we prepare for these festivities.

Week I -- task one: Walk through your home. Make a list of all the things you need to do to winterize/summerize your home. Jot down cleaning projects you've been meaning to get to, but haven't done. Take an evaluation of what you'd like to accomplish in the next six months. Keep up with your regular cleaning.

Spiritual, emotional, physical/appearance inventory: Don't forget to jot down the joys of home keeping in your keepsake book. Maybe, write a page or two about the happenings in your family for the last few months are so. In your home economics book, spend a little time evaluating what's going on with you. As a busy wife and mother, you might not have taken much time to reflect on this. Surrender anything in prayer that you need to. Set some goals, if you like. Don't overdo this. Too much focus on self is one way to end up in the pits. However, the opposite extreme of forgetting to be a good steward of your own soul, mind, and body is not healthy, either.

Remember, in our Book of Days keepsake notebook, we are concentrating on making wonderful memories. In this book, we write about the things that make us happy and thankful. This is a book we want to be able to pick up and read on a rainy day and find that it lifts our spirits.

In our home economics notebook, we look at both sides of life -- the happy and the sad, the hard and the easy, the blessings, and the trials. As you overcome a particular trial, that might turn into something you'd like to also record in your keepsake book: This period of time was hard because ______________, but this is how the Lord delivered me______________ or this is how I overcame _______________. Often the things that seem darkest in our lives at the time become the greatest blessings in our lives. However, it may take some time for us to be able to look back and see the jewels that were formed in the flames. So, once you do see blessings arising out of ashes, record that in your Book of Days.