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Christmas Countdown: 9 Weeks to Go

Welcome to the second of our Christmas Countdown posts. This week it’s Christmas Countdown 9 weeks to go.  I really hope you found it useful to get your budget sorted and make your present lists last week. I now have a spreadsheet set up, and a list on my phone of people I need to buy for. It’s great, as I’m looking even now.

This week’s tasks involve some actual buying. Yes, that’s right. Now you’ve set your budget, you can get spending!

Christmas Countdown 9 Weeks to Go

Task One: Decide on your Christmas Card list.

Over the last few years, I’ve noticed we’ve sent fewer cards (in my defence, last year I had a tiny baby) and have received fewer cards. I do think it’s lovely to send cards though, especially to family and friends that you don’t see often. Perhaps its strange, but I don’t often send them to people I do see frequently, most often because we tend to do something together.

Anyway, you will know who you want to send Christmas cards to. So your task for this week is to go through your list, check any addresses and put in any updates. You don’t have to start writing cards yet.

Task Two: Start Making Christmas Gifts

If you’re planning to make any Christmas gifts, you want to get started on them soon.

Some ideas for you:

Port, Orange and Cranberry Sauce – This would look amazing as part of a hamper.

Homemade Gift Jars

Mulled Wine Scented Candles – These look stunning, and I bet they would smell gorgeous too.

I love these Pressed Flowers. This article has lots of ideas from Country Living.

Finally, I Heart Naptime (a blog I kind of obsess over ) have a whole load of printables and gift ideas here. 

I am not arty or crafty, therefore I will not be making any gifts, but if you are, they make beautiful, unique presents. But crafts do take time, so get started this week.

Task Three: Buy your wrapping paper and gift tags.

I can spend hours looking at wrapping ideas. I love the idea of having beautifully co-ordinating wrapping in classy, stylish colours, with beautiful, on-trend embellishments.

The reality is that I buy the 3 for 2 rolls. I plan to allocate each person a style of wrapping paper (especially for stocking presents). Then I do some wrapping, Tim does some wrapping, and it gets mixed up.

So this year, grown ups are getting beautiful, embellished, stylish presents. Kids are getting kid-friendly wrapping paper. Stockings will be co-ordinated so the presents aren’t mixed up (and the paper must be different to their under-the-tree presents). I will make sure of this.

Task Four: Send out gift ideas

This is the optional task this week. In fact, I’ve already done this for some people. I find it’s really helpful to have a list of things that your family members would like, which you can give to other people (if they ask) for ideas. My mum is already asking, so I’ve sent our ideas for the boys already.

Thats it. If you spot the perfect present for someone on your list, get it. But have fun picking your wrapping paper, knowing that you’ve budgeted for it and that you’re spreading the cost of the spending out.

And pop back next week (or join my mailing list) for the next tasks!

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Learn a new skill

How often do we really give ourselves the opportunity to learn something new? When we were younger, we did it every day. Our whole lives seemed to be focused on learning. But as adults, do we every take the chance to learn a new skill?

In my real-life job, I’m a teacher. I see students learning every single day. I see my children learning. But it’s here, in my blog, where I’m the learner. Every single time I do something just out of my comfort zone, I push myself a little bit further. I learn something new.

Task 1: Decide what to learn

This week, I want you to think about what you’d like to learn. Is it a skill you currently have, but you’d like to improve? Or do you want to learn something from scratch?

Talk to your friends. Have a look online to see what’s available. Think about what you’ve enjoyed doing in the past. Go back to the questions you asked yourself in Skills and Strengths and Your Identity.

Task 2: Work out what you will do with your skill

When you’ve got your idea, think about what you will do with it. I’ve found that if we don’t have an idea of what we will do with our learning, we won’t learn it! Back in 2016, I set myself the challenge of learning a new piece to play on the piano. A worthwhile task, I suppose. But I had no reason for learning it, and would have had no purpose for playing it. So I never learned the piece. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I really sat down to play the piano. I have no real reason for it.

This task might actually shape what you want to learn. For example, you might choose to learn about gardening, but then you might refine your idea. So you might learn about a specific type of gardening in order to use it in your own garden.

Task 3: Find out how to learn a new skill

Now you need to do some research. Will you have to take a class or a course? Will you be able to borrow some library books? Are there videos on YouTube to get you started?

It’s amazing how little money you actually need to spend in order to gain some new skills. Take blogging, for example. You can set up a blog for free. It costs relatively little – in terms of hobbies – to get a really professional looking blog.

Task 4: Allocate some time

As we all know, we are absolutely time-starved. But by giving yourself some time to focus on your own learning, you are completely investing in yourself – your mental health, your wellbeing and your future.

So speak to your partner or husband. Look at your schedule. See if you can dedicate one evening a week to it, or a couple of hours at the weekend. You’ll be surprised how much you can learn in just an hour!

Task 5: Give it a go!

Hopefully, by now, you are completely ready and raring to go with your new skill. Don’t take it too seriously and remind yourself that learning is hard – that’s why it’s a challenge! Especially if this is a completely new skill and something you’ve never done before. It takes time. But enjoy the process, and see it as investing in yourself.

Most importantly, have fun.

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Christmas Countdown: 10 Weeks to Go!

The Christmas Countdown is on: 10 weeks on Sunday will be Christmas Day. This means we need to get planning and get organised.

This week’s tasks are all about planning: planning a budget and making lists.
christmas-countdown-1

Christmas Countdown Task 1: Make a Budget

Personally, as much as I’d like to be a saver, I’m not. I’ve always struggled with sticking to the idea of a budget, until I actually sat down and worked it all out, and then kept a note of what I spent.

There’s the truth: you have to set a budget, and then you have to record your spending so that you stick to it.

This is your chance to make sure your Christmas is affordable. You also have time to make sure you don’t spend a fortune on those last minute gifts – you know, the ones where you forgot to get them a present so you rush out in a panic and blow the budget.

As you’re starting your planning early, you’ve also got time to spread out the cost. Each week, I’ll suggest an item to stock up on, so that you spread the cost over the next few months.

As a guide, the average family spends £796 on Christmas. There’s a brilliant Christmas Budget Planner by the Money Advice Service, and the excellent Money Saving Expert has some good advice for cutting costs.

So, how do you do it?

  1. Work out how much you can afford.
  2. Work out your non-negotiables.
  3. Work out your negotiable costs. Set a budget for gifts, food (but don’t forget you’ll still have your usual food budget too), entertainment and travel, plus any other costs that you can think of.
  4. Set up a spreadsheet and track your spending so that you can make sure you stick to this.savings, finances, economy and home concept - close up of man with calculator counting money and making notes at home

Christmas Countdown Task 2: Make your lists

The most important list is your present list. No, the presents you want! You need to make a list of the people you plan to give presents to.

You’ll know who you give to amongst your family and friends, but it’s important to list everyone. So think about:

  • Your children’s teachers
  • Friends’ children
  • Workplace Colleagues (Secret Santa?)
  • Neighbours
  • Children’s friends

They are just a few suggestions… You might give to your hairdresser, babysitter, PA, boss, GP, bin man… It’s up to you. But get them on your list.

You don’t have to start buying presents now, but you will find that you’ll start thinking about it, and start looking out for things. If you see something that would be a brilliant present, snap it up!

You might also like to download a free app to keep track of your Christmas present buying too.

Female writing wish list in to notebook near christmas gifts

Christmas Countdown Task 3: Have a Clear Out

This is an optional task – Tasks 1 and 2 are essential. And, to be honest, you could do this task at any time.

But… This is a really good opportunity to have a clear out. Box up the outgrown clothes, pass on toys that aren’t played with and tidy up the cupboards.

This will help you achieve two things:

You’ll see what you need, or what your children need, and therefore this will give you ideas for gifts.

You’ll find space to store your gifts (before giving them).

Before the Christmas decorations come out, it feels good to have some clear surfaces, and some breathing space in the house. So I’ll definitely be doing this over the next week.

If you’d like to join in with the Christmas Countdown, and get yourself organised for Christmas, please join my mailing list.

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Please let me know how you get on in the comments, and do join us for the next challenges next week!

Identify your skills and strengths

This week, we’re looking at our skills and strengths. We’ll be identifying what we’re good at, what we enjoy doing and what we would like to do less of. Last week, we looked at discovering your identity.

Part of knowing yourself does involve knowing your skills and strengths. I’m not suggesting we do this CV-style, but it might help to think quite a lot about the jobs you’ve had and the activities you’ve enjoyed.

Like before, I’ve got 7 questions and tasks for you. Note down the answers and see if any patterns emerge.

7 questions to ask yourself to find your skills and strengths

  1. What are you very knowledgeable about? What are you an expert in?
  2. What aspects of your professional jobs have you really enjoyed?
  3. What hobbies or interests do you have where you feel you have a talent?
  4. What ‘role’ do you often take in a group of friends?
  5. Are you a details person or a big-picture person?
  6. What is your greatest strength?
  7. What gives you greatest joy?

Your Ideal Job

As an ‘extra’ task this week, spend some time thinking about the future. What is your ideal job? Are you in the right work now to be able to work towards it? Or what kind of work do you want to do?

Perhaps you don’t want to work; what steps do you need to take to make that happen? Perhaps you want to have your own business.

If you struggle with this, have a think about your ‘perfect’ working week. Would it be very routine and predictable, or would it have a lot of variety? Where would you work? Who with? What would you be doing?

Your other ‘ideals’

You may find this leads you on to thinking about other possibilities. Perhaps you’d rather work in school hours so that you can do the school run. Perhaps you’d like to live in a different area, or to retrain.

Perhaps you’d like to stay in the job you’ve got, and that’s absolutely fine. Just think about the whole world of possibility out there, and spend some time imagining what could be.

Remember this Anais Nin quote:

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

What do you need to risk?

Eve Week 5: Childbirth and Patriarchy

Last week, Rachel looked at the moment Eve eats the fruit of the tree of knowledge and brings sin into the world. Her thoughts were fascinating, and I really encourage you to head over to her post right after you’ve read this one.

This week we’re looking at the curse.

Eve’s curse.

It’s a big one. Right there between the curse on the snake and the man, God says to Eve:

“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;
    with painful labor you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
    and he will rule over you.”

Genesis 3:16

 

 

 

 

Let’s break this down a bit. First of all, let’s focus on the first part of God’s statement.

Childbirth

God says to Eve, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children.”

We talked about this in our Mummy Meditations group earlier this week. I asked out members to share their birth stories. Common themes emerged: not that the pain was so bad, but that the fear, the difficulty, the intervention, the exhaustion were just overwhelming. Then Rachel suggested putting ourselves in Eve’s shoes: pregnant, with God’s statement hanging over you. She must have been terrified – would she even have known how babies were born?

Think of that first birth. Alone apart from Adam, in the wilderness, knowing you had been cursed by God. Wow. It makes my fears pale in comparison.

But childbirth is still incredibly risky. It’s still one of the most dangerous things a woman in the developing world can do. The WHO estimates that 830 women die in childbirth every single day. So fear when you’re facing childbirth – and knowing that it will be painful – is completely understandable.

To get a bit personal, my first labour was LONG and exhausting. Yes, I was terrified. But I don’t really remember the pain itself.

My second labour was completely different. Yes, there was some pain… But it was pain with a purpose. Labour. It’s work. After giving birth, I ached all over – my shoulder, my back, I’d even given myself two black eyes from pushing so hard. But it was pain with a purpose.

Joanna at Mums. Kids. Jesus. has written a post about her experiences of Supernatural Childbirth which I found really interesting. The idea of a pain-free labour and birth will certainly be tempting for anyone who’s pregnant right now!

So pain in childbirth, I can cope with. I also found this article really interesting on evolution and childbirth. If you don’t subscribe to a creationist view, you might find it interesting too.

Desire

The second part of God’s statement concerns marriage: “Your desire will be for your husband.”

This word ‘desire’ is very much discussed in various commentaries. Most people seem to agree that it is a desire to dominate, rather than a good desire. The Hebrew word for ‘desire’ here is associated with sin.

So this is the break down of the equality we found when Adam and Eve were first created. Created to be equals, each others’ helper… Now, Eve wants to dominate.

But that’s not the most important thing. Now, her desire is for Adam – and not for God. Eve now looks to Adam for the provision and affirmation that only God can provide.

Not only that, but the next part says that, “He will rule over you.” Ah. Here we are. The patriarchy.

Patriarchy

The thing is, instead of this perfect, co-operative, interdependent, equal marriage, now the woman will want control. But the husband will also want control. They would both be fighting for the upper hand in the relationship.

But the man will have the rule. I really, really struggle with this. Many of the commentaries seem to really emphasise the woman’s subordination to men. We look back in history and we see that women were – and still are in many parts of the world – the property of their husband or father.

Can I really worship the God who makes women be the property of men?

Well, yes. I can. Because God intended women to be the equal of men. It was the sin of women and men that created the conflict within marriage.

I also can worship God because of Jesus. Jesus treated women as equals – look at how he treats Mary and Martha in Luke 10:34-42. Look at how he treats the woman at the well in John 4.

I can also worship God because of how He intends marriage to be, with the illustration of marriage as like the church and Christ – mutually sacrificial and mutually beneficial.

So yes, I can still worship God and call myself a feminist!

This has led me to pondering the future. As we move towards a more equal society, where women share more of the work (Adam’s part of the curse) and women are increasing seen as being equal to men, are we moving back towards God’s intended equality? Are we, in breaking away from the traditional roles of a male ‘provider’ and a female ‘servant’, actually moving towards Heaven here on Earth?

Next week

Big questions this week! Next week is our final week on Eve and we will be looking at Genesis 4:1: Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man.” Rachel will be writing up our thoughts and I think it will be a really interesting one.

 

 

 

The Mama Book: A review

A few months ago, an advert for The Mama Book popped up in my Facebook news feed. It’s creator, Zoe, was in some similar Facebook groups to me, and I guess this time, the algorithm got it exactly right.

A journal for mums? To celebrate and reflect on each season of motherhood? With the promise of helping me to ‘Find mental space in the season of motherhood,’ I was sold straight away. I preordered a copy and waited for it to arrive.

The truth was, I didn’t need another obligation. I am busy enough with running my home, looking after my boys, teaching three days a week, not to mention my blog and YouTube channel. The last thing I needed was something to feel guilty about.

I have to say, that hasn’t been my experience at all. To start with, The Mama Book is dateless. There is no expectation or requirement. Zoe writes in the introduction that The Mama Book was born out of a desire “to have a space to process, plan and reflect on life as a mother.” She encourages us to “Use your mama book in a way that works for you.” There’s no condemnation if you haven’t filled it in every day – or even every week if that doesn’t work for you.

The book itself is lovely. It has a simple, elegant design, and I love the way the pages are ring bound so it opens up completely and doesn’t close in on itself. Zoe is an illustrator – her illustrations can be found at Cheerfully Given, and I have one of her Bible quotes on my kitchen wall. The floral design on the front of The Mama Book is really beautiful and in keeping with the understated tone of the book itself.

I know this is a very specific thing to write about, but the style of the pages is lovely too. Clean, white pages with clear lines and elegant fonts. The whole book is really thoughtfully styled.

The front section is a ‘general’ section, with space to write your thoughts about your ‘Mama Mission’ – your hopes and dreams for your children, ‘What Matters Most’ and ‘I am…’ If you’re following my month on Self-Development, trying to define what ‘I am…’ will be really helpful.

After that, we move on to the Seasons. These are really versatile pages – a season could last a few weeks, a few months or longer. For each Season section, you have a Heart Check, Count the Joys (marking the positives), My Little Ones, ‘Define this Season’ a bucket list, a typical week, what I want to prioritise and focus on.

I started my journal in September, and in my ‘Heart Check,’ I basically wrote about how exhausted and drained I was. We’d been through months of very early wakings with Samuel, I’d had both boys at home every day throughout the Summer holidays and I’d found it really hard to cater to their very different needs, and it was the start of term.

Over the next section, where you reflect on your week, I can literally ‘see’ my energy returning. My enthusiasm for work, for parenting, for blogging is all returning, and Samuel is finally sleeping better. I honestly don’t think I’d have realised that if I hadn’t have been through the process of writing it down.

The other thing I really love about The Mama Book is that it’s not just about the children. There is so, so much more to mums than just their children. That’s why mums start blogs, isn’t it? The Mama Book allows you to explore your identity with your children and separate from them. It asks you every season, are you making time for work, rest and play? That’s with your children and separate from them. I am loving the chance and space to reflect on that.

I’m going to keep going with my Mama Book. I know it’s going to be a lovely thing to look back on in the years to come, and it’s a brilliant space to record my memories without sharing them publicly or feeling like I have to journal every day. I’ve also found the prompts really helpful too – when I have journalled in the past, it’s made me very introspective and quite pessimistic. In The Mama Book, the section for ‘The Joys’ is twice as long as the section for The Challenges!

The Mama Book really is fulfilling its promise for me. It really is helping me to find mental space in the season of motherhood, and I’m very, very glad that I clicked on that Facebook post in the first place. You can order a copy here. I’m not affiliated in any way with either The Mama Book or Cheerfully Given, but I whole-heartedly support them both, because they are brilliant.

What’s my identity? How to learn to know yourself

This month, we move on to Self Development in The Organised Life Project. We’ll take some time to really discover who we are, our strengths and skills, our goals, hopes and dreams – and we’ll start putting some things into place to help those dreams to come true. Sounds huge? Well, yes, it is. But how often do we really take time to think about this kind of thing?

When you become a parent, you undergo a huge shift in your identity. You stop being yourself, and for a few years, the role of ‘parent’ takes centre stage. It’s very easy to forget who we are when this happens. It’s even harder to try to remember who you are when you start to come out of the sleep deprivation.

What’s my identity?

There’s a quote which is attributed to Socrates: “To know theyself is the beginning of wisdom.” Honestly, I think that’s a very inward, almost self-obsessed way of looking at the world, but I also think there are huge advantages in knowing ourselves.

To know how you function best, to know your strengths and skills, and to be able to articulate your dreams will certainly help you to feel more in control. You’ll work out what you really want to do – and you’ll be able to put measures in place for when you feel out of your comfort zone.

Ultimately, you’ll be happier and you’ll be able to find purpose in your life. That’s pretty important!

How to learn to know yourself

I’ve put together 7 key areas which I want you to think about this week. I’d strongly suggest writing down your reflections as you may like to go back through them and even change them.

  1. What are the most important things in my life? Think about a typical week. What are the things that it is most important that you do? That you attend? That you participate in?
  2. What are my interests and talents? What are you passionate or curious about?
  3. What is your temperament or personality like? Are you an introvert or an extrovert? What makes you angry? What makes you happy? Do you need to plan, or are you happy to go with the flow?
  4. Think about a 24 hour period. When are you at your best? When do you need to be alone? Do you need time at home to recharge?
  5. What have been the highlights of your life? What did you learn about yourself through this?
  6. What have been the lowest points of your life? What did you learn about yourself?
  7. What are your core values? What are the most important ideas/purposes in your life? If you’d like a more detailed step-by-step guide, have a look at this one: Personal Core Values

I really hope you enjoy this month on The Organised Life Project. If you’d like to know more, please pop your email into the box below.

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7 ways to discover your true identity and purpose

 

The #EcoverLaundry Challenge: Do you have a laundry routine?

We all need a laundry routine.

There are few household tasks that are as thankless as the laundry. It’s a never-ending cycle (pun intended) and surely we all joke that we never see the bottom of the laundry basket. From sorting to washing to drying to ironing to putting away, it really is endless.

But it’s a fact of life. So we all need a laundry routine.

I’ve often joked that I shouldn’t have any more children as I can’t cope with the laundry. Babies bring a huge increase in the volume of washing. If you’re brave enough to use cloth nappies, that volume trebles.

After a while, the volume does reduce slightly, but if your children are anything like mine, everything they are wearing needs washing at the end of the day. Dinner ends up down the jumpers, trousers get grass-stained and let’s not even think about the pants.

Step 1: The pre-sort system

6 years ago, I started tacking our laundry system. We went from having 2 laundry hampers where we put everything, to a pre-sort system. I use the Algot from IKEA with three deep mesh baskets, which are still available and work really well. There are other laundry sorters, but they are more vertical, whereas I really like the baskets in the Algot. You can carry the load downstairs, and even out to the washing line in the same basket.

The system is really simple: white at the top, lighter colours in the middle and dark colours at the bottom. Everyone is responsible for putting their clothes in the correct basket. When the basket is fairly full, put a wash on.

I honestly couldn’t believe the difference this system made. Instead of guessing which colour washing I needed to do, or emptying out the laundry hamper and sorting the washing on the floor, it was already there. Tim started doing laundry once he saw that the basket was full.

Step 2: Wash daily

I’ve kept this system going and it’s worked really well. I have to do a load a day, sometimes more, but that does include towels, sheets etc. I iron twice a week – I have a fair amount of ironing as both Tim and Ben wear shirts for school, and I do keep on top of it.

Recently, I’ve been using Ecover laundry liquid. I was sent a sample of their Ecover Non-Bio Concentrated Laundry Detergent. I always use non-bio liquid, as I find it’s gentle enough on our skin. Both Ben and I really struggle with eczema, and it does get affected by different detergents.

Laundry Routine #EcoverChallenge

I have been really impressed by the laundry liquid. Firstly, you only need to use a tiny amount. I presume it’s really concentrated as it does seem to create a very thick foam. It goes straight in the drawer, which I actually prefer. I seem to collect the balls and caps from other laundry liquids and I don’t think they make any real difference to the laundry!

I’ve been using the Ecover Non-Bio Concentrated Laundry Detergent for 2 weeks, which is plenty of time to allow for a possible eczema flare-up. There really hasn’t been a change, so it’s definitely good for sensitive skin.

The laundry scent is really pleasant – Lavender and Sandalwood. I love the sandalwood in particular, and it comes through well. The lavender isn’t so strong, and it definitely doesn’t smell like old ladies, which is what I usually associate with lavender!

Step 3: Dry immediately

Our washing machine has an alarm which beeps once the washing has finished. It’s the most annoying noise in the world, but it is definitely a good trigger. As soon as the washing is finished, it either goes on the line or in the tumble drier.

You might like to avoid using a tumble drier, but it saves me so much time and hassle, it’s a no-brainer.

I do often use a fabric softener with my washing, especially if it is going to be line-dried, and I felt that the Ecover Non-Bio Concentrated Laundry Detergent needed a softener with it. I have to admit to always putting towels in the tumble drier – it’s the only way to keep them soft!

Step 4: Iron, fold and put away regularly

Some people fold their laundry and put it away as soon as it is dry. I confess that I’m not one of these people. I put it all into a big basket and sort it and iron anything that needs ironing twice a week. Once it’s ironed – and I do a lot of ironing as Tim and Ben both wear shirts – I put each person’s clothes into a small basket.

That basket gets taken upstairs and put away as soon as possible. As I usually iron when the boys are in bed, their baskets can be put just inside their bedroom doors and put away in the morning. Everything is tidy and easy to find – exactly how I like it.

I actually made a video about my laundry routine, so if you’d like to see the routine step by step, here you go:

Step 5: Shop carefully – and use the machine for hand washing

Since going through my wardrobe and defining my style, I’ve tried to avoid buying hand-wash only clothes. But last week, my toddler managed to get orange felt tip pen all over one of the cream cushions in the lounge. It took me a while to spot, and, like most hand-wash things, too me a few more days to get it into the machine on a hand-wash cycle. At 40 degrees with a small amount of Ecover Non-Bio Concentrated Laundry Detergent, the cushion cover came out spotlessly clean. I have to say, I wasn’t really expecting that.

Remember: Make it easy to wash things properly

I do think it makes a huge difference to the appearance of your clothes if you sort the washing first. Whites can be washed at 60 degrees, which definitely makes them look brighter, and by keeping darker colours separate, I preserve our clothes better. I also do have a range of products – including stain removers and disinfectant laundry cleanser – on a shelf above the washing machine so I can use the right product at the right time.

I will definitely be using Ecover Non-Bio Concentrated Laundry Detergent as part of my laundry routine.

This post is an entry for BritMums #EcoverLaundry Challenge, sponsored by Ecover.

If you’d like to read more posts about developing household routines, pop over to my routines section.

Create a Store Cupboard Essentials List

This is the final step in my series on meal planning. So far, we’ve created a Food Inventory, made lists of Meal Ideas and set up our Meal Planning templates. Our final step is to create a shopping system that works smoothly and efficiently.

You probably have some kind of idea of the food you like to keep in the house. The kinds of foods you use every week – or even every day. These are your Store Cupboard Essentials. They might not be kept in your Store Cupboard, but you like to keep them in.

Make a list of your Store Cupboard Essentials

You might like to have a real, physical list. You can have a look at mine: Store Cupboard Essentials

I do like to bake so I have quite a bit of baking ingredients there too. If you’re not a keen baker, you won’t need these.

(Almost) never run out of your Store Cupboard Essentials

These are the things that I find it so frustrating to run out of. If I’m half way through cooking a bolognese sauce and find we have no tinned tomatoes, that’s really annoying!

So I have a list of Store Cupboard essentials, and I also have a space on my hallway whiteboard with the title ‘We Need…’ It has taken a while, but Tim and I are now both in the habit of making a note if we run out of anything. We can easily pick it up next time we do an online shop.

I’ll be honest, this did take a while to get into, and we have had a few frustrations with it, but we’re getting better!

Use your phone camera to help you to shop

Finally, if you’re not doing an online shop (I often do my online shop next to the fridge so I can check what’s in it), use your phone camera. Take a quick snap of your fridge and cupboards so you can see what’s there and what you need. I usually photograph the list on the whiteboard too as it’s quicker than writing it down.

Do you have any meal planning tips? I’d love to hear them in the comments!

Eve Week 3: From Adam’s Rib

We’re in the third week of studying Eve as part of our Mummy Meditations, and it is already shaping up to be such a good series! You can find Part 1 here and Rachel’s write-up of Week 2 here. This week, I’m looking at Genesis 2: 22-23:

“Then the Lord made a woman from the rib he had taken out of man, and he brought her to the man. The man said “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called “woman” for she was taken out of man“. Genesis 2:22-23

Made from Adam’s rib?

We looked last week at how Eve was created to be the perfect equal to Adam – to stand side-by-side with him, caring for God’s creation and being a companion for him. We discussed the word ‘helper’ and it’s connotations of being an assistant… So here, does that fact that Eve was created from Adam’s rib make her weaker?

Absolutely not.

I personally really like the idea that Eve was created from Adam’s bone. They are from the same flesh: and this links to the idea of becoming ‘one flesh’ in marriage. What I hadn’t realised was that God took the bone away and built it up. The Hebrew word is literally ‘built up:’ God created the female form out of that bone.

Eve: With God First

Not only that, God then brought the woman back to Adam. In our Mummy Meditations Facebook Group, one lady put it: “Eve was with God before meeting Adam. I wonder what God would have said to Eve in those moments…his precious daughter, newly ‘born’ into his arms, the one he’d been thinking of from before all time. I can just imagine him as a proud new Father, so excited, pouring his love out on her.”

I have loved thinking about this. I know exactly how I have poured my love into my new babies, and how much more love does God have for us?!

Eve, meet Adam

Just imagine that first meeting between Adam and Eve. The sense of wonder and joy they must have felt. Was it love at first sight? I imagine so.

Adam says, “This is now.” The translation of this is interesting: one commentator puts it colloquially as ‘At last.’ At last, this is what Adam has been waiting for. And he gets to name her: woman. Again, commentaries seem to be really clear on this – the name is simply because she is ‘like man’ but different in gender. There is no sense of ownership or weakness in the word ‘woman,’ but just that she is ‘different to man.’

I like the ‘bone of my bone’ and ‘flesh of my flesh’ too. Bone for strength, and also for the word ‘self’ in Hebrew – so “She is part of my very own self.” “Flesh” gives the sense of tenderness and gentle qualities that they would have seen in each other.

The first couple

So there they are. The first man and woman. The first husband and wife. Loving, open, equal. Living with God, walking with him every day. Taking care of the things He has given them. That’s a pretty good image of a marriage, isn’t it? I know not all marriages are like that, of course, but it’s something to aim for!

Next week, we’re looking at Genesis 3:6: “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” Rachel will be writing up her thoughts over on Rachel Ridler: Mum on a Mission. I hope you can join us!