Category Archives: Uncategorized

Couch Parenting

As much as I enjoy being a hands-on parent, there are times–sickness, or at the end of a particularly long day–when I just don’t have it in me to budge from my spot on the couch.

Fortunately, there are some activities that provide some enrichment and bonding opportunity for the kiddos, but also allows me to relax a bit on the couch without turning on a screen to entertain the kids.  Win!

unnamed-1Letter Game.  Although I have also used this with magazines, newspapers, and even junk mail, I recently located some fun simple word flashcards at the store for very cheap.  I have the kiddos look through the words in front of them, and ask them to find certain letters.  The kids have added a competitive flair to it, by seeing who can find the letter first.

Games.  I Spy is a particular favorite, but also a version of “Continue the Story”–where each person provides a sentence or two to a story.  These can turn pretty amusing very quickly!

Quiet Reading. Unless I am feeling ill, I enjoy reading quietly to the kids on the couch.  It keeps everyone entertained, calm, and fairly controlled.  If sick, I have found the best modification for this is to either have the kids read to each other (also an amusing time), or to read to themselves.  Just because they aren’t readers yet, doesn’t mean they can’t be readers of pictures!

Beauty Parlor.  This is one of my favorite couch parenting activities, though only one child really enjoys it.  Bean grabs some lotion and massages my feet and hands.  It is so simple, but so relaxing!

For those times when independent play is not a viable option, it is good to have some backup “couch parenting” activities at hand.  Let me know some of your favorites!

 

Family Mission Statement

IMG_0431With the move currently in progress, I have come to the conclusion that a big move is a great opportunity for fresh starts–an additional opportunity to create a sort of New Year’s Resolution.

One of the possible “resolutions” I have come across in my online browsing lately is the concept of a Family Mission Statement…and I definitely want to implement it as soon as we arrive in Texas.  As explained in detail at artofmanliness, a family mission statement is simply putting into writing what your family’s purpose and goals are.

While we will need to hold a family meeting once we are settled so all family members can have a say in the statement, I want to have some of the focus be on our goals and future–for example, what do we want our family to do?  Or what do we want our family to feel like?  What do we want our relationships with each other to look like?

These are questions I have not stopped to really consider before, but questions that deserve thoughtful answers.  What would you include in your family mission statement?

Apartment Modifications Part 2

Last week, I talked about how my striving stewardess ways were changed a bit while we spent time in the temporary corporate apartment as we transition to life in Texas. This week, I want to share a bit more about our modifications, because life in a two bedroom, two bathroom apartment is slightly different than living in a house with a yard.

unnamed (14)Appliances. Because we obviously didn’t get a say in the purchase of these, it was very easy to not consider the impact–both environmental and financial–of utilizing these.  I washed and dried a load of laundry daily, and freely used the detergent provided.  I didn’t change the “heat dry” setting on the dishwasher, because, hey, “it’s not mine!”

Although the appliances were lovely, they didn’t advertise their environmental friendliness, which leads me to assume they were not the greenest models out there.  Modification:  Short of picking out the greenest appliances out there (which unfortunately would likely cost quite a bit), I would need to be more mindful of my usage of apartment appliances–air-drying as Ronnica does, using the dishwasher only when completely full, etc.

TV.  Cable television came with the apartment.  Free! Having gone without cable for years, I was amazed at how easy it was to fall into the habit of channel surfing and mindless viewing.  Modification:  Many communities, be they apartment or otherwise, provide certain services, such as cable, for their residents.  Were the community we live in to ever offer free cable (or something similar), I would need to be very careful of falling into old ways, being mindful of good time management practices, and maybe even tossing the TV altogether!

I am so thankful to have had this opportunity to stay in an apartment.  As noted last week, it served as a good reminder to me to always be open to new ways of doing things, and also that there are several ways to live a life of stewardship!

A Month of Moving

11415768915_83a98098aa_mIt has officially been over a month since we made the decision to move from Kansas City to Dallas.  One month of blog posts about my thoughts on moving thus far.

Can I be frank with you?

Most of the time, I feel like this move was a mistake.  The house is not selling as quickly as anyone hoped, and the prospect of some time apart while Riley starts his new position in Texas and the kids and I wait in Kansas City for the house to sell is starting to become very real.  Getting everyone out of the house–two kids and two big dogs–during showings is taking its toll on me.  Oh, and we are buying that second car, much to my dismay (but I suppose it really is needed–four years with just one car isn’t too bad, I guess).  These are but a few of the items constantly on my mind these days.

It’s a lot of change in an incredibly short amount of time, with a whole lot of unknowns.   Still, I have to trust that this move is what is best for our family–that there are benefits out there that I have yet to see–so I have to keep plugging away “with grit and gumption.”

I need to remember that this move is a gift.  It’s just pretty wrapped up right now!

Photo by Mark Moz

The Simple Things

Though a key aspect of simple living is fewer possessions (and we are definitely proponents of that here on Striving Stewardess), I will readily admit that there are a few extras that help make our simple life a bit, well, simpler.

Aside from the obvious, like the library, Castile soap, and vinegar, permit me to share with you some items that help make my life a bit simpler.

1.  Amazon Prime.  This is a program that is relatively new to me, but enough of a priority that, when a special for new customers came along in January (incidentally our Buy Little Month), we paid the fee and signed up.  We order enough from Amazon that it should pay for itself in just a few short months.  We plan to also order diapers from there; with discounts from Prime, it should be even more of a money and sanity saver.  And apparently you can watch shows on there too…?? Very handy with no cable!IMG_1157

2.  Carpet Cleaner.  Yep, I’m eating my words here and joining the dark side:  I got a carpet cleaner for Christmas, and while I have only used it once, I am a complete convert.   Even if I only use it twice this year, it will save us over $300 this year alone.  Sure it’s a bit more work, but it is pretty easy to use.  And did I mention the financial savings?

3.  Slow Cooker.  I don’t know of any simple living adherent/frugal fan that doesn’t appreciate their slow cooker.  What is not to like about putting in the cheapest, toughest cuts of meat, vegetables, and some broth or water to make a hearty stew that will be ready in just a few hours?  Or the ability to toss in a can of fruit, some flour and some sugar to make a cobbler?  Seriously–this thing is brilliant and saves us countless hours in food preparation and in money (it even saves in energy costs!).

What gadgets have you found to make your simple life simpler?

Using Herbs

growing oregano and basil
Oregano and basil. These window boxes helped me make great use of my balcony space!

I’m pretty passionate about growing your own food. Ideally, I’d love to be able to grow at least half of my own food (or more??) and just have to supplement my garden with staples such as flour, rice and beans. To continue my dream, I would love to one day be able to barter for the things that I can’t grow with the things that I do grow.

Not only do I get great joy from growing my own food, I want to save money and be less dependent on foods shipped from far away (expending greenhouse gases into the air we breathe).

Obviously, I’m not there yet. I likely won’t be until I get a yard. But while I still have my balcony garden, there are many things I can grow in a small space, the easiest of which is likely herbs.

Before I go much further, I should admit that I’m not a gourmet cook. I have learned to use herbs based on my own personal tastes. My spice and herb vocabulary has grown from maybe a half dozen when I first started out on my own. I’m constantly expanding what I know how to use and experimenting to see what I like best.

This year I tried growing quite a few herbs but only got a few to successfully grow. It’s much harder to start seeds here since it’s so dry! I ended up with five: basil, oregano, sage, rosemary and parsley.

Picked these herbs to put in a breakfast casserole.
Picked these herbs to use in a breakfast casserole.

Those that I didn’t successfully grow: cilantro (though I got some from a friend!), dill and thyme. I’ll also be trying to grow garlic over the winter.

Now that I’ve gotten these going, how am I going to use them year-round?

1. Fresh. Obviously, this is the best way to use herbs. It’s such a change of pace from store-bought dried herbs so I’m still getting the proportions correct.

When the frost comes (early, here in Colorado), I’m going to try bringing my herbs inside to my sunny living room to see if I can keep them going year-round.

The latest oregano cuttings drying. Once dried, I crumble my leaves in a reused spice jar.
The latest oregano cuttings drying. Once dried, I crumble my leaves in a reused spice jar.

2. Frozen. As far as taste, frozen is as close to fresh. I froze cilantro (just stuck it in a Ziploc bag) and make my basil into pesto and freeze it in ice cube trays. I have also added a little olive oil to basil and pulsed it in my NutriBullet before also freezing it in ice cube trays.

3. Dried. So far, I’ve only dried oregano. At the pace it grows, I’ll be able to easily keep up with my taste for the herb so I’ll be soon sharing it with others.

What herbs have you tried growing? What have been your successes? What do you wish you could grow?