Slow Down and Make Your Home a Refuge 30 Day Challenge! Day 27

28 days. Roughly one month. This is what we discussed at the beginning, right? That is officially how many days it takes to make something a habit. To make something habitual. To make something a natural part of our lives. Tomorrow is day 28. Tomorrow marks 28 days of intentionally taking time each day to figure out how we can slow down and ways to make our home a loving, inviting place that we want to be! I am thrilled to have made it this far. And, I have practiced much. My heart is happy. Today’s challenge will make your heart happy, too.

Today’s challenge is to pick your favorite three things and redo them. (If you aren’t already doing just that.) I can tell you that I’m lighting a candle, playing uplifting music, and meditating on a scripture that I will place in my pocket. Um. Also, I’m playing inside today. 5:45 Zumba class. Pray for me! And, I’m recleaning out that closet we talked about early in the month. That. Is. All.

Slow Down and Make Your Home a Refuge 30 Day Challenge. Day 26

adult animal beautiful cold
Photo by Daniel Frank on Pexels.com

Happy Monday to you all! And, as we head toward the end of the month, I truly do hope you have a HAPPY Monday. I hope that as you have found ways to slow down and cherish your time and love your home that you are actually happier. I am for leading these shenanigans. I’ve truly been having a good time. My favorite part is hearing from you. I love hearing what scriptures you’re meditating on. I love seeing before and after pictures of your closets and hallways and bedrooms and storage areas. It’s been so fun, and it’s not yet over. We still have a few more days to cherish.

Today’s challenge is to PLAY! I want you to take at least 15 minutes and do something FUN! Anything that you love. Read. Go outside. Give your kids 15 minutes in the snow. (If you have snow where you are!) Play a game with your family. Go for a walk. Spend at least 15 minutes playing. Tell us what you decide to do, and have fun!

Slow Down and Make Your Home a Refuge 30 Day Challenge! Day 25

It’s the last week of November. Already! Honestly, I can’t believe it. We have come a long way, haven’t we? This week I’m just going to remind you of a few things that we’ve been talking about. We’re going to revisit the need to be outside, to look around us, to be present, to unplug, and ways to make our home a lovely place to be. We’re going to keep this week super simple. I’ve already seen some of your calendars for the month of December, and I realize that we need to have an attitude that reflects our need to slow down. So, today I’m giving you permission to say no.

Today’s challenge is to look over your proposed calendar for December and pick something that you really don’t want to do. And then, just say no. Like, no. Really say it. Let the powers that be know that you will not be participating in said activity.

Guess what? It’s all going to be ok. The world will go on without you. No need to feel bad or fear the response of others. If it doesn’t work for you or your family, scratch it. Done. Need encouragement? Comment below and our little community here will help you out.

Slow Down and Make Your Home a Refuge 30 Day Challenge! Day 24

Happy Saturday to you! I love holiday weekends, don’t you? We have just a little extra time to sleep, time to chat, time to hang out, and time to relax. Use it, friends.

I am so glad to have spent nearly a month alongside you practicing some great ways to slow down. In slowing down, I’ve also been able to find ways to make my home a refuge for myself and my family. This week’s challenge of cooking ahead has gotten me really excited for actually using the time I’m saving to BREATHE. And sit. And relax. And giggle over a real live home cooked meal with all of my children actually sitting at the table. You can do that as well. If you’re single, maybe it’s your chance to invite others over without the stress. If you work a lot, maybe it’s your chance to have your spouse be in charge of dinner because all they need to do is put your prepared meal straight into the oven! Hallelujah!

Today’s challenge is to use your time wisely! And by wisely you KNOW by now that I don’t mean cramming more stuff into your day. I mean lingering over that hot coffee, staying in your PJs a little longer, or sitting outside for a few minutes. And smile! And breathe. I’m serious. Use your time wisely today.

Slow Down and Make Your Home a Refuge 30 Day Challenge! Day 23

It’s Black Friday! That notorious day when Americans begin their holiday shopping. Or some (like my family) begin their Christmas decorating. Although this year we are far from home, so we probably won’t be doing much of either.

How have you come along with your freezer cooking plans? Let’s execute some of that today, shall we? Give it some time, maybe an hour or two, and get a few things done. Let me leave you with five tips.

1. Plan Ahead

Ok. We’ve been talking about this for a few days now, so I’m guessing that you have been planning ahead. You need to make sure that you have your recipes ready. Also, make yourself a list of the supplies that you need. You may also want to have a prep sheet ready giving yourself an order in which you want to work. And, make sure that you start with a clean kitchen or you’ll just get frustrated. Planning ahead is key to your success.

2. Don’t Grocery Shop and Cook on the Same Day

I want this to be as simple for you as possible. You might think I’m kidding, but don’t overdo it.

3. Learn How to Flash Freeze

This is really important. Flash freezing is freezing things individually before putting them together in packaging or freezer bags. There are plenty of instructional videos and articles online. This would be done for things like waffles, muffins, cookies, fruit, breads, and many other individual items. The last thing I want is for all of my hard work to be ruined by everything being gooey and smashed together.

4. Label Everything Really Well

You might think that you’ll remember everything. Or that it will be obvious. But, trust me, this is important. Write clearly on all of your bags and containers. I like to write the contents, date and time, and thawing/cooking instructions. Even if I think it’s easy and super self explanatory. Do it anyway. Trust me. Plus, you can easily give things away if someone needs a meal or some encouragement, and they will understand the cooking instructions.

5. Don’t Be Intimidated

Seriously. Don’t worry about getting it perfect or getting everything right. In the grand scheme of things, this is to help you, not to stress you out or keep you busy and unsuccessful. You got this.

Slow Down and Make Your Home a Refuge 30 Day Challenge! Day 21

Well, did you do it? Did you get started on some recipes? Did you find a few simple things among your treasures? If not, that’s ok too. I’m here to help.

If I were to do a small first timer freezer cooking session, I would tell you to not have too many rules. If you have 5 recipes, and you get 2 things accomplished, that’s great! Good for you! I’m serious. We are just starting to carve out some time to do this, so don’t worry. No rules. No freaking out.

Over the next few days, I want you to plan and execute at least one freezer cooking session. Now, it’s hard for me to tell you exactly what to do because some of you may have food restrictions or sensitivities. You’ll have to adapt. And, I’m sure you’re used to that. But for those of you who are new to this, I’m giving you a guideline. These are my favorite things to prep and freeze. Here’s what I would do:

1. Waffles 2. Lasagne 3. Banana Muffins 4. Sausage and Potatoes

The waffles can be any recipe you choose. I do a whole wheat one, my dh has a recipe with vinegar that he loves to use. (Really) You can use a box, if you want, I don’t care. I trust your judgement. For the lasagne, I left you a recipe on yesterday’s post. The banana muffins can be any banana bread recipe that you love. (We all have one, right?) Now, the sausage and potatoes is my recipe, and I’m super lame at recipes. But, I’ll leave it at the end.

Today’s challenge: Yesterday you compiled recipes and started to shop the cupboards. Today, nail down your menu and make sure you have all of the right ingredients. Then, plan out your time. Even one hour works. Really. Set everything out where you can see it to remind yourself that you need to do this soon. Formulate your plan and it will be easier to execute.

I welcome your questions! Let’s do this together.

P.S. Sausage and Potatoes Recipe

Mild Italian or Polish Sausage

Potatoes

Olive oil

Rosemary

Using kitchen shears, cut the sausage into one inch pieces. Chop the potatoes into small pieces. Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray and fill the pan with the potatoes and sausage. Drizzle with olive oil and place fresh rosemary over the top. This can be baked for about an hour at 350 degrees. For freezing, you can bake and then freeze OR freeze without baking. I generally freeze without baking, knowing that it may take longer than an hour to thaw/bake.

Slow Down and Make Your Home a Refuge 30 Day Challenge! Day 20

Hello friends! What a great 19 days, right? We have been putting some emphasis on getting our lives in perspective and slowing down a bit. We have also worked through some ways to make our home comforting, a haven if you will. Next, I want to get super practical. I want to share with you some of my favorite time savers. Here’s why. By saving time in these ways, you will free up extra time for yourselves and your family. This time is not intended to use to cram more stuff in, but instead you are freeing up time in your life to CREATE MARGIN. Yes, you are freeing up time so that you can slow down and do nothing! Or invite some friends over to play games. Or spend an evening on the couch snuggling with your kids. Or watching a movie and feeling zero guilt.

We are going to start with one of our biggest uses of time in the home. The kitchen. This could be one of your favorite places (like me) or a place that is totally loathsome (several of my dear friends). If you have a family, it might take up a lot of time and you may absolutely dread the 6:00 hour. If you’re single, you might hate the fact that Hot Pockets are just so much easier than real food. If you’re busy. . .well, you get it. No matter who you are, we can work at this. I honestly can’t wait to share some of my favorite ideas!

When my kids were younger, I was really into meal planning and freezer cooking. I would also do a lot of batch cooking, as well. This saves time, money, AND is good for the environment because it uses less packaging. And, if you get the hang of it, it’s fun. I really think that you can do this no matter who you are or what your household looks like. It will help, trust me.

So, today’s challenge is this: Start to compile your favorite recipes. Now, I’m not asking you to go crazy or anything. We are going to cook ahead a little and freeze some meals. So many things can go in the freezer. Like this lasagne. You can literally make one for dinner and at the very same time make another one to put in the freezer.  Baked oatmeal is also something that is really great to make ahead and keep in the freezer. Most breads freeze well, and you can freeze single items like burritos. I’ll provide some of my favorite recipes, but I also want you to feel comfortable in the kitchen. So, use your own recipes if you wish. That works for me.

After you have compiled and printed a few recipes, shop your cupboards. People, we buy so much stuff that we don’t need and sometimes already have. Look around to see if you have the ingredients necessary for some of your favorites. Then, begin to make a list of what you will need to buy. If you are feeling really adventurous, I’ll share a piece of info with you. Today all of the grocery ads come out for the sales that start tomorrow. You could shop the ads, see what’s really cheap, and build your menu around that. For example, if tomato sauce is really cheap, you could make chili or pasta sauce or something of that nature. Same with meats. It’s often good to see what meats you can get on sale. But, that’s not for the weak! 🙂 It takes a little practice to shop the sales and begin to build your menu.

Start to think about when you might have a couple of hours to freezer cook in the coming days. Maybe even tomorrow. It really doesn’t take long to get a little bit ahead. In fact, if you give me even an hour, I’ll take it. I’ll show you how to use that hour.

Take the challenge. Do your homework. Tomorrow, we’re going to build on this.

 

Slow Down and Make Your Home a Refuge 30 Day Challenge! Day 19

I have to admit, I couldn’t wait to light my candle this morning. Funny, too, because often my husband will wake up and blow it out. He a little sensitive to the scent, I guess. But for just a little while, it’s on the table and I can see it’s flicker from where I’m seated on the chair reading. And I can feel the warmth it brings. (Not literally, friends, it’s just a regular sized candle.😀) Also, I love keeping uplifting music in the background with my youngest as we get ready in the morning. It definitely helps our mood. The overall morning makeover things we worked on last week have stuck with me. Then came our weekend challenges.

I’m guessing you’ve spent time thinking over some things like who we can share our refuge with and how we can be hospitable to them. Maybe you’ve thought of ways that you can create a little margin in order to invite someone new into your space? Or, like me, maybe you’ve thought of people that can just enter into your space without fanfare. Just because. This makes the most sense to me. It is the most natural. Hey, friend, we’re having tacos tonight for dinner. Want to come by? Hey, friend, I get off of work at 1:30 today and really need a pick me up. Want to meet me at the cafe? Let’s have a coffee. If you are already cooking something or are already planning to watch a movie, why not ask someone to join you? And remember, it doesn’t matter if it’s frozen pizza on paper plates. No one cares about that stuff. That’s entertaining. We’re aiming for hospitality.

I’m not the boss of you. I can’t make you do anything. These things are only important to you if you want them to be. But, I see us as a society of fast paced people involved in too many things who work too hard to obtain things that no longer give them joy. Our kids are in too many activities and barely know what it even means when we say use your imagination. And our health is steadily suffering because we don’t take time to enjoy our meals but instead hit the drive through several times a week because we don’t plan ahead. I see “slowing down” as something that encompasses all aspects of our lives. We need to stop doing so much and enjoy the things that we are doing. We need to learn or relearn ways to take time to really see the world around us and value it for what it is. I see making our home a haven and a refuge as a way to have a safe and calm and secure retreat from the world. And, a place to make our families (and others) feel at home.  This is why we are challenging ourselves this month! I want you to feel more relaxed headed into the holidays. I want you to have a peace in your home that is palpable. A calm that even outsiders want to know.

So because I’m not the boss of you and I can’t make you put these weekend challenges into place, I’m going to throw it out there and trust you to follow through. Take these few days of thinking, planning, and meditation and act on them. Plan to share your refuge with others, even if it’s a hot chocolate with the neighbor kids on the next snow day. Just keep the ideas rolling around in your head. How can you slow down enough to relish in the joy of including others in your life?

Tomorrow we are going to begin to discuss very, very practical ways to help us slow down. From calendar tips to meal planning to just plain saying no, we will get down to the very practical side of things in our quest to slow down.

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