Small and Ordinary ~ Notes

It’s an utterly lovely early fall morning here.  Aren’t these kinds of mornings inspiring?  Good thing – I have lots to do!  I decided to start journaling a few morning notes here.  Just ordinary stuff.  Nothing truly remarkable.  Some things journaled here I work hard for, and some I find joy in because of the smallness of the moment.  But, all of them are a joy to share.  Truthfully, I miss my Daybook posts.  I think they added a little color and vibrancy, and a fuller dimension.  I haven’t felt like doing one in a long time…but this morning, I’m inspired.  I haven’t really worked out a format yet, so I’ll just go with what inspires me in the moment, and maybe it will stick.  I have my warm cup of coffee, and for the moment, it is blissfully quiet.

~  Menus and Kitchen Work  ~

I’ve been sitting down with my recipe basket this morning to work out menus for the week.  I’m really beginning to get back to a sense of working with a good menu and getting back in the kitchen to make meals for my family.  It isn’t always easy, but it does feel good.

Last week I made one of our favorites, Chicago Style Pan Pizza, using a simple pizza dough recipe straight from my Zojirushi bread maker.  Goodness, that’s a time savings!  Then we just layer with all sorts of good stuff: pizza sauce, sausage, onions, olives, pineapple, and mozzarella cheese.  Bake at 350 for 30 min, and you’re done!  Satisfying and super easy!

This week, it’s taco salad, and I’m trying something new, Layered Turkey and Stuffing Bake with some cranberry sauce and probably some roasted asparagus.  And Fish with Dijon Sauce for Friday (I haven’t tried this recipe yet, but it’s been in my recipe basket for a couple of years.  sigh.  Do you have recipes like that….that you keep but haven’t made?  I’m resolved to try a few new things!).  And of course, it’s football season, so Saturdays are perfect for grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, and Rob is a master griller!   I love how he adds a little pat of butter, squished deep into the hamburger patty before they grill!!  And, he has tasked me with finding some ground pork to add to his burgers next week to give them a little more flavor depth.  Ah!  Fall!

~  Making Home  ~

I have been hard at work in my home these last few months.  We were due for a serious and thoughtful overhaul of spaces here!  I’ve been purging bags of stuff as I go, and have thus far purged countless bags (I so love reading about the # of bags y’all send away, but I’ve never been good at keeping up with the number…you’ll just have to take my word for it – a thrilling number of bags of stuff have left this home!).

I’ve finished my bedroom (ah!  bliss!), creating a little crafting and sewing corner which is absolutely beckoning and inviting!  And most recently, we emptied our entire walk-in pantry, painted it, and then re-organized it!  This task, far above others, has worked to help me with menus!  I know what I’ve got in there again!!!!  If you’re feeling a little uninspired in the menu department, might I suggest a little pantry re-org to lift your spirits and give you a good sense of the pantry staples you have?  Considering how to place them, so that goods are at hand when needed, is another help!

This week, I’m afraid I must focus on the not-so-glamorous.  {{sigh}} Ironing.  I’ve put it off far too long.  And then, I hope to accomplish the fall clothes switcheroo in the boys’ closet.  The girls’ switcheroo is DONE!

~  Education is a Life  ~

We are wrapping up our first term of work!  Next week, we’ll work on end of term examinations, and some wrap up work.  It has been a good start to our year, and the children have really enjoyed some great books so far!  Perhaps that is a post unto itself!

~  Wonders of Nature  ~

How could I not include a few notes on what’s going on out of doors?  It’s one of my favorite places!

My little gardens bring me such quiet joy right now.  Last week I started a few vinca cuttings in what I lovingly refer to as “the Bermuda Triangle”, so dubbed after my sister and mom helped me weed a forest of Bermuda grass rooted in the garden bed.  It is an awful corner for weeding.  I’m hoping my little vinca will take root and multiply and choke out the Bermuda weeds by next spring.  If I can get them rooted (and I think I have successfully rooted 3 cuttings), I’ll tuck them in with some mulch in a few weeks.  I hope to finish some early fall pruning soon and….I need to get to my little deck garden, which is completely over-run with invasive, awful, terrible, lamentable Bermuda grass due to total neglect on my part.

~  Something Small  ~ 

There is always something small to reflect on and be thankful for.  A moment, an image, a thought, a task, a snuggle…that gives me focus, that anchors my heart in the present through the gift of the small.  I sometimes think how, outside the walls and grounds of my little domestic monastery, life swirls and fosters the large, the big, the fancy, the loud.  But joy is most often found in the small moments.  And I think in our homes, we’re often beset by the big tasks, the ones that require so much of our time, time which must be managed in between our other duties.  Jobs like painting and re-organizing, which are good, but can be so ominous that they hang over our to-do list like a little black rain cloud.  So, a small task which can be completed in a few minutes is a joy for me.

This week, I did something small.  I took a little pack of post-it notes and added little tabs to all my Cooks Illustrated magazines (which I love!).  It took me 10 minutes to do, and now I can see at a glance all my resource reviews, which I refer to often, tabbed.  Small.  Useful.

What are you doing in the kitchen these days?  Got any menu facelifts to share with me?  How about around your home – how are you embracing the ordinary parts of your home that reflect the joy of time you put into it?  And something small?  Did you give yourself permission to do something small, finding joy in it?  Do share!  Hope you’re all having a lovely day!

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  1. Thanks, Jen, for inviting me to share your morning with a cup of coffee. It is an amazing Fall day here in my part of the mountains. The girls are riding bikes with their dad, and I am working my way to kitchen to bake bread. I am trying to figure out how to start preparing supper on Saturday for the rest of the week. Too often I buy food for recipes that never come to fruition because of the girls' afternoon and evening activities. Somehow I need to “prep” the meals on the weekend.But mostly I am alternating my gaze between blogs and the mountains! 😉

  2. Yes, enjoyed doing the small this weekend….
    We share a love of office supplies 🙂 and yesterday I purchased new pens of various colors.

    A little thing, but it brightened up the homeschool planning and notes I'm taking. Joy.

    Grace to your days…

  3. I miss your daybook posts too. I have been going through my cookbooks looking for old favorites like Turkey Chilli and new, like Applesauce Cake with Carmel Glaze. Fall is about the food.

  4. I have been a long time lurker, and you have inspired me in many ways! I have a question for you, if I may. How do you organize magazines? For instance, my mother passes on magazines with interesting historical articles to me. I think, 'wow, that'll come in handy some day for the kids.' But then it disappears into a stack, and I'm sure to find it just after we have studied whatever subject! Do you catalog the contents, or just pull the articles and file? I'm so organizationally challenged! Thanks! And yes, I have recipes I clipped years ago and have yet to try. Sigh.

  5. Wow! You have been busy. I am jealous of a walk-in pantry. I imagine how much easier life would be if all our food was in one place. 🙂 We have been trying new recipes lately too. Last week was a morning cake and pumpkin muffins, both were wonderful! However, I have recipes I've had for years (into decades) I have yet to try. {sigh} One day.

    My small thing this week was to read a book. I have not read since the spring. Well, not something I chose to read rather than needing to read.

  6. will you please post your “crafting space” in your bedroom?

    I have this vision about my bedroom and I really want a sewing corner, but I can't seem to figure one out. Perhaps if I see yours it will inspire me and give me some practical ideas.

  7. Oh, I love hearing all the small and meaningful things y'all are doing! And you're so right, Tammy!! Fall is about the food!

    Yes, Josette! I'll be happy to post my little crafting and sewing corner soon! It is a cheery delight to be in! I decorated with vintage sewing patterns I had! Love it!

  8. Answering Helen F's question re: organizing magazines:

    Well, I am pretty brutal about what periodicals I keep, having said that, I do keep a number of them!

    HISTORY MAGAZINES AND CONTENT (we enjoy magazines that focus on a historical perspective, especially old Cobblestone magazines):
    ** Some magazines are shelved with the period of history in they focus on. I organize all of my living history bookshelves by century, and if I have a magazine about Charles Dickens, it goes in with the 19th century books. Same for magazines about painters, naturalists, anything historical – I shelve it according to historical period.

    ** Some magazines don't revolve around one central period. An example of this would be National Geographic, which might contain a few articles about something of importance, like Christopher Columbus. I usually pull the article out and put them in a folder and…shelve them by historical period.

    ** Are usually kept in cardboard magazine holders and filed together. I keep all of my old Nature Friends because my children love those so much.

    ** I only keep the best of the best of these. They're kept in cardboard magazine holders with my religion and faith books.

    That's it for the magazines I keep in the learning room.

    Now, if you mean MY magazines…that's a whole different story, and depends a lot on the magazine!!! I USUALLY pass them along. I usually only keep articles that are inspiring, and for me, that means they're usually *making home inspiring*. In that case, I'd put the article in a sheet protector and keep it in my Home Design Notebook (

    Of course, as you see in this post, I don't part with my Cooks Illustrated, and keep them tidily on a kitchen shelf using a favorite plastic magazine file holder (I must have about 20 of these around my learning room and in my kitchen holding various things:

    Hope that helps, Helen!!!

  9. Thanks Jen! That does give me some direction. I think I just need to be a little more brutal about what I choose to keep as well! Thanks!

  10. The beautiful and soothing tone of your blog is always so peaceful. I, too, have been working on menus for the first time in my married life. *Cringe*. Between making a rotating 2 week schedule and a new cookbook “Make a Mix Cookery” – I can say that my cooking life has been absolutely transformed. It is such a relief to know what we are going to have for dinner at 10 o'clock in the morning. Even with a newborn, I am managing to get dinner on the table regularly, it is interesting and healthy food, and there are actual vegetables on the plate. 🙂 Keep up the inspiring blog. You have no idea the depth of your influence on other aspiring homemakers.

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