Blissful and Domestic - Creating a Beautiful Life on Less

Friday, September 4, 2015

DIY Menu Planner.....

Last month I saw a simple DIY planning project over Free Homeschool Deals, but it was originally posted at Large Family Mothering (one of my new blog crushes). I couldn't believe I had never thought of making a cute little calendar in those notebooks I get during school supply stock up time. Sherry used hers as a homeschool planner, but I thought I would try mine out for menu planning. It was so nice having my menu plan all gussied up and looking nice. I love it when things look pretty. It entices me to use it more.

This calendar was a simple thing to make. I pulled out a notebook from my stash, some markers, and headed to the library. Heading to the library was for the kids. They had a hankering for some computer time there. So while they got in some much needed tech time, I worked on my calendar. It was so simple to make. Use a ruler to measure out how many sections you want. You could totally do this as a weekly planner as well! 

Once you have all your squares made and filled in with your dates, start doodling around the border to make it fancy or's really up to you. I am a constant doodler, so this was right up my alley.

Easy peasy right?

XO Danielle 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Why I Meal Plan...

Today I am talking about meal planning and why I do it. It is probably one of the most requested questions lately, so I thought I would take a few minutes to chat with you about it today.

I was not always a meal planner. If you've read my book, then you know all about the hours I wasted each day standing in front of my pantry, without a clue as what to make. I would stare at row after row of ingredients, without a morsel of an idea as how to put them together. I would search through cookbooks each night, but by the time I came up with something, it was late...the children were whining...tummies were grumbling....and I was throwing in the towel and just heating up chicken nuggets again. It was a vicious that I stayed in for far too long.

Finally I decided to try this meal planning thing out that I had heard so much about....oh gosh ladies it was a game changer. All of a sudden I had more time, because I wasn't spending forever and a day in front of my open fridge....I was finally serving my family hot...well rounded meals. It was a hallelujah moment when chicken nuggets was not on the menu. Woot! Woot! I had finally made grown up food. It was a true celebratory day lovelies!

You see meal planning is a sanity saver. I don't know about you, but my days can get crazy with a capital C. The last thing I need is stress during that dinner hour. Because I meal plan, I am able to save some of my Mama sanity and not have to stress when dinner time rolls around. The night before I look at my menu plan, take out any items that need to be thawed for the next day and I'm prepped. This literally takes five minutes y'all!

When I follow that meal plan, we also save money. No food is going wasted. You wouldn't throw twenty bucks in the trash, so don't do it in food form. Thrown away food, is exactly like throwing away money. Just don't do it! :) It also saves you because if you have leftovers, you can use them for lunch the next day. Using leftovers is like getting something for free. We all love that word right? I know I do!

The key to meal planning is to keep it simple. Look at what season of life you are in and what you can realistically do. If you have a crazy month coming up, choose simple meals that can be thrown together in a matter of minutes or make some freezer meals ahead of time. Look at what your schedule looks like for the week...month...etc and plan accordingly.... and above all else give yourself a little grace. There may be times you slip and get off that meal plan, but the important thing is to get right back at it the next day.

Meal planning will become your saving grace if you only allow it :)

XO Danielle

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Cleaning Out The Freezer.....

At the end of each month I like to clean out my freezer, so I can see what things are hiding in the depths below. One of the biggest concerns I hear about freezer chests  is the worry that things will get buried way down deep and go unused. By cleaning out your freezer each month and taking stock of what you have on hand, you can eliminate this worry. 

The kids and Hubby get in on the action, pulling things out and placing them in baskets. They then clean off any frost buildup, while I make a tally sheet of everything we already have one hand. 

If I notice something needs to be used, I put it to the side and make sure it is placed on the top in the freezer, so that it may be used in the upcoming month.

When I put things back, I also have a system to how I organize everything. I keep meat on the bottom, then follow with frozen veggies and fruits. Next is dairy and bread. I end with whatever items I will be using in the next week or so on top. If I have room in my freezer (the one above the fridge), I will place any need to use items in there as well.

Doing this simple task just once a month really helps me to keep our food rotated and make sure nothing gets lost in the deep frozen abyss that can become my freezer chest.

This month, while cleaning out and taking stock, I decided to use up a lot of our food to prepare freezer meals. It has been way too long since I have made some freezer meals to stock my freezer with and this mama needs a good ole' sanity saver right about here I am creating as many freezer meals with whatever I find in our pantry, fridge, and freezer. It has become my labor of love this week. I have already made quite a few things, which you can see here on instagram. I've been taking pictures of the process, so I can share all the good stuff here on the blog. Hopefully I finish up my freezer cooking later this week. I've been doing it in short bursts when time allows.

What are some of your favorite (easy peasy) freezer meals?

I hope this day greets you with a smile and you know how truly awesome you are. Have a wonderful day lovelies!!

XO Danielle 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

A Little Bit of Post-It Math...

I love Pinterest.....I'm sure we all do right? We all probably have boards upon boards..full of ideas...some we have done and a lot some we have not...we all aspire to do all those things we pinned right? Well I am excited because I actually put some action to one of my pins. Hallelujah right?

I had seen a fun post-it math idea over at Miss Giraffe's Class and it inspired me to do a bit of post-it math with my own kiddos. I am tempting to be more fun this year in our math studies (I'm constantly under construction people...for reals). We are trying to channel a more living learning approach. For all you Charlotte Mason fans you will know what I'm talking about. It's a learning process for this mama:)

Anyways I snagged this dry erase posterboard at Lakeshore Learning a few weeks back (it was only a few dollars! Score!) and finally put it to use this week. I wrote multiplication facts for 2's, 3's, 4's, and 5's. Our goal is to eventually be able to recall these facts right away. We've been working hard and they are definitely getting there. Some facts are easier than others...understandably.

Anyways I place post-it notes on top of the answers (which I wrote on the dry erase posterboard). The kids took turns picking a fact and sharing the answer. If they were right they got a point. We do our points in tally form, so that they are always working on their grouping and counting.

This type of game has so many possibilities......imagine doing something similar for language arts, spelling, etc. I love when games are simple, are DIY, and can roll over into other subjects. It makes this mama happy!

Hope your Tuesday is going well! Have a wonderful day lovelies!!

XO Danielle 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

An Impromptu Science Experiment...

I've been trying to let go....trying to let those red heads of mine lead our school day....and let me tell ya friend it has been a challenge. Going off the agenda is so not in my code. I am an organizer at heart and like things in their place and in a certain way....but God knows my children's hearts so much better than I do.... and He has placed the idea in my own heart that I need to loosen the reins a that is what I am doing. I am in fact letting Jesus take the wheel. 

When first thing in the morning the boy comes to me with an impromptu science experiment, I go with the flow and say "heck yes...let's do it"...well not exactly those words but you get my drift :) We are exploring together and taking things slow.....and guess what? It actually feels pretty good! Those kiddos are learning and doing so much cool stuff....which means I get to do cool stuff with them. Win! Win! God is at the helm of our homeschooling ship and he is steering us to some amazing places. I am thankful for that knowledge and the guidance He is providing us with. He truly is amazing!

Science experiment from - 150 Science Experiments 

XO Danielle 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Why We Teach Our Children to Work...

One thing that has been very important to teach our children is the value of work. We want them to know that hard work always pays off. We want them to always put action into their words when it comes to serving others and helping out around the house. It is up to myself and my hubby, as their parents to teach them. We don't want them to ever feel entitled, we want them to know that you must work hard for the things you want to accomplish in this life.

One important thing we try to drive home to our children and ourselves, is that God has designed us to work and to work hard. Even in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were told to work the garden. Once they left the garden, they continued to work to provide for their family's spiritual and physical well being. Work is a hard thing. We have to use our physical strength...our muscles. We also must use our brains to accomplish a variety of tasks.

Although working is not always what we want to do, it is something that as adults we have learned is necessary. If we do not teach our children this, we are doing them a great disservice. We tell our children that work is not always something we will enjoy. Sometimes it is really hard and leaves us not wanting to smile at all. We've all had times in our life, when hard work was required. We try to remind them of what happens after the work is done. Sometimes when we've worked really hard on a family project, and we sit back and look at all we've done, something happens....A sense of pride is felt because of all the work that was had. Working hard gives us a good feeling about ourselves :)

Sometimes it is the fun we get to have after the work is done as well that keeps us motivated. We have daily chores that are required in our home. We believe that everyone contributes to the mess, so we must all help clean the mess. We have a simple blackboard, which I write out daily chores. Everyone does chores. I pick chores that are appropriate for their age and a few that are bit beyond. This allows them to do things they can do with out much effort and then a few that stretch them. This allows them to continue learning those life skills they will need when they get older.

Oh and everyone has a turn doing different jobs. No one is above taking out the trash or cleaning out the cats litter box.

When these chores are finished, that is when fun things like a field trip or tech time can take place. These become great motivation as well to get the work done.

Now I know that we all do chores differently in our homes, so I'd to love hear what you guys do. I believe we can all learn so much from each other. Let's share a bit about how chores work in our own family and how we are raising this next generation to work hard and do their best :) 

XO Danielle

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

What Homeschooling Looks Like For Us....

Homeschool looks different for every family. There is no right or wrong way to homeschool, only finding what works best for your family and enjoying that process with your kids. We've been homeschooling since day 1. It wasn't something I had set out to do, but as preschool years came around, I felt God leading us to homeschool. After that first year, which we called our trial year, we were hooked. Hubby and I saw how our kids had flourished and knew that this is where God wanted our family. I have had that prayer of question reaffirmed over and over again as we homeschool.

Throughout the years, our homeschool picture has changed. We have over the years found a rhythm that works for our family. I've learned quite a few things along the way as well. The first thing I've learned is that I am not in control of our homeschool, God is. He knows my children's hearts far better than I do, so I include Him in every thought I have about our schooling. There have been many occasions where a problem will arise, with me knowing not how to solve it or how to get through to one of my kids. Once I take it to Him in prayer, it is amazing the inspiration I receive. I am thankful for His constant guidance over our homeschool. He is truly looking out for my littles and myself, as we continue on our homeschooling journey.

Each day our schedule is a bit different. I try to have plenty of opportunity for free play and learning. This is not something I always strived to incorporate throughout our day. I use to be very rigid with my scheduling of our school days, but since adding in more free play/learning time, I have seen a huge change in my children. They are exploring books more, they are asking questions more, and they are thinking more deep. These are things that both Hubby and I wanted to come out of this new year of schooling, so I am beyond excited to see some of those wishes coming into play.

Some days we start with a formal lesson on the dry erase board. We also may stick around in pajamas far longer than is socially acceptable. I'm ok with that :)

Some days we spend hours reading from books or listening to audio books, diving deeper and deeper into the stories. We just finished The Indian in the Cupboard. The kids didn't want to stop listening to that book. They loved the fun antics between the Indian, the cowboy and the two little boys that brought them to life. Reading this book also gave us time to dive into Native Americans and some of their customs. We utilize our libraries massive collection to get in as much reading as possible.

Some days we spend having Harry Potter marathons because Mr. Keagan just finished reading the entire book series. I am so proud of this boy. When he started he couldn't imagine reading the whole's a lot of pages, but he stuck with it and read an amazing story, which he is now obsessed with. I am super proud to have another Potter nerd in the family :)

and other days are spent learning life skills and heading out to the pool for some much needed recreation time. This particular pool day was full of a first for Miss Libby. She finally worked up the courage to jump off the diving board. She now is hooked and finally believes me that diving boards are like the best thing to happen to pool time. They're too fun!

and other times we spend the day with our co-op group, learning a new technique in art.

or we spend our day having some baking time and talking about geography as we make the continents out of sugar cookie dough...of course when that happens we have to make some simple circle cookies for Dad too. He loves my sugar cookie recipe :)

Then other days are full of art classes, field trips, ballet lessons, and soccer practices. Our goal is not to teach our children in one subject or just a few, but in a wide range of topics (isn't that what we all want for our kiddos?) We want to create learning opportunities for them to grow and hopefully light a fire for further curiosity to flourish and thrive. As I have loosened the reigns, and allowed God to more fully lead our homeschool, I have seen a HUGE shift in our days. We have more calm and more love...we still have sibling disagreements and days when mama is dog tired, but that's ok....that's normal. We are not perfect, but we are trying to more fully live after Christ's example. 

I hope this gave you just a little peek into how our days are laid out and how I have chosen to not be a slave to the's a process for me and one I am striving to be better at.....I am striving to allow time for inspiration and fun. Homeschooling is such a blessing to my family. I know it is not for everyone, but for our family it is something we know God has asked us to do and I am thankful for the opportunity I have to be home with my red heads and see them grow.

XO Danielle

Friday, August 21, 2015

Freezing Bananas....

We are HUGE banana eaters in my house. To me, a smoothie just isn't complete if it doesn't have a banana in it. Well this can be pretty tricky when you are trying to not go back to the store during the month or in between planned shopping trips. I am notorious for heading to the store for bananas and vowing to only put those yellow gems in my basket and then it happens....I see an end cap display or I see those grapes on sell, catch my drift. Even the most experienced budgeting mamas can fall prey to the end cap display or that item at a rock bottom price. Because of that, I have had to come up with a way to keep myself away from that grocery store as much as possible. Enter the frozen banana...I have been doing this for a bit and it has seriously changed my life....for reals people! When I do my once a month grocery shopping I buy about five bunches of bananas. I leave one bunch out for munching and freeze the rest. I break them into small pieces and place them on an ungreased baking tray. I then place them in the freezer for a few hours. Once frozen I remove them from the tray and place them in a freezer bag. 

Freezing bananas at the beginning of the month for smoothies helps me stretch my grocery budget and stay away from the grocery store more...thus saving me money. 

I still leave money in our grocery budget after my monthly sopping, for any extra produce we may need during the month. I always wait till my fridge is bare though and I remind myself that the less time I spend in that store during the month, the more I am able to save and stick with my grocery budget.

What grocery hacks save you money?

XO Danielle
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