Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A New Blog

This year, 2008, I'm following my interests more and allowing myself to do what I love to do so very much...create pretty things and photograph pretty things.

If you'd like to see what I'm up to, come visit me here: my new Just Pure Lovely blog.

Please visit!

Lori Seaborg

Saturday, February 18, 2006

New Blog Address

I have been Simulcast-Blogging between this blog (my first) and my newer (and prettier) blog at HomeschoolBlogger. To tell you the truth, I am tired of copy and pasting every post to each blog. In fact, that's the reason why you never got the end of the Decluttering series!

Do you mind just reading the other blog from now on?

Here is the link: Keeping the Home

and here is the address in case you need it: (the blog is the same as this one; just because it is hosted at homeschool blogger does not mean I only post hs stuff!)

I'd love it if you stuck with me!

Lori Seaborg

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Day Thirteen: Declutter Your Home Series: The Home Manager

In today's post by Mrs. Cat, well worth a read today (click here), she urges us to think of five blessings. Even when things are going rough, as they have been for me lately, I can always think of five blessings, because there are five members of my family besides me! :)

Here are my blessings, right off the top of my head:

  • After a decade of asking for it, I am so grateful to God that we live in the countryside (on good old American soil!).
  • I am thankful for Tim, who works hard to provide for us, and who gives me anything I ask, especially when I look at him in just the right way (how else do you think I got him to agree to the goats?).
  • I am thankful for our four children. Not only did we get four blessings, but we were double-blessed by having two boys and two girls.
  • I am thankful for this house that I get to work in daily.
  • I am most thankful that I get to stay at home with our children. They are a treat that I would not miss!

What are your five blessings?

by Lori Seaborg

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Day Twelve: Declutter Your Home Series: Mrs. Cat's Story

Today we have a personal story to read from Mrs. Cat (click here to read it). For those of you who are just now joining, we are decluttering our homes for 21 days on this blog, with the help of Mrs. Cat's blog posts.

I have had a great amount of clutter in my home in the past, too, and could write you a long story to read about it. But for now, read Mrs. Cat's story, and I'll write mine another time. I am experiencing great back pain (not great as in "good," of course!) and just want to lie down for a while!

I hope you've had a good day today!

by Lori Seaborg

Day Eleven: Declutter Your Home Series: Food Tips

Today's post by Mrs.Cat is about saving money and time in the kitchen. Click here to view the post.

If you'd like more advice on saving money in the kitchen, go visit the advice of Laine at Laine's Letters (click here to view it).

by Lori Seaborg

Monday, January 30, 2006

Day Ten: Declutter Your Home Series: The Kitchen

I wrote this blog to you earlier, but it deleted before it posted. That is so frustrating!

Here you go again, much later....

This is the link to Mrs. Catherine's post on decluttering the kitchen (click here).

I just want to add a note to you moms of young children, like I have....

I don't think we need to feel guilty or burden-pressed by the idea of the Dinner Hour. It is a goal for us to work toward, and of course, we would love to have a beautiful ritual of a Dinner Hour, with well-behaved children, adoring husband, and pretty things surrounding us, but we are in a stage....just a phase....of years in which our children are young. It won't be long at all until they grow up and we can have our pretty Dinner Hour with their help.

Right now, let's give our Mommy Guilt a break by just taking baby steps. We can begin by concentrating on getting a nutritious meal into our youngsters while teaching them the basics of manners.

by Lori Seaborg

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Day Nine: Declutter Your Home Series: The Dining Room

Today's focus is on decluttering the Dining Room. In our house, our dining room not only looks like a School Room, but it really is the School Room! We don't have a set-aside dining area, as we do school much more often than we entertain!

Here is the link to Mrs. Cat's post on decluttering the Dining Room (click here).

by Lori Seaborg

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Day Eight: Decluttering Our Homes: The Master Bedroom

Just a few days ago, I said I felt like I'd been taken off the hook because Mrs. Cat's* focus was on the Family Room and I (pat, pat) have that room in ORDER.

Today, our focus is on the Master Bedroom and I have not only been placed on the hook again, but I have also been placed under a spotlight for all to see the fraud that I am!

Mrs. Cat says of the master bedroom (this is painful to write!), "This room should take precedence over all the others. This room over all the others shows where you place your marriage in your priority list. This room shows how we are feeling and exactly what we are thinking in regard to our spouse."

Is there anyone else who has sore toes from being stepped on by Mrs. Cat??

Recently, I did get our bathroom and our closets cleaned out. Tim was happy to come home to an organized closet one day! I told him that I will maintain it as long as he doesn't purposely (lazily, I meant) mess it up. He has held his end of the bargain, throwing dirty clothes in the laundry basket instead of on the closet floor, and I have kept the closet clean by peeking in there daily and putting clean laundry where it belongs.

In our master bedroom, we have had boxes to be sorted stacked against a wall. They were there for months, so I moved them to the garage last week. The boxes still have to be sorted -- I didn't really fix the problem -- but they don't need to be in our master bedroom while waiting for me to get to them!

If you are overwhelmed by the work to be done, just set a timer for 15 minutes and only work that long. You will be so surprised by how much you got done in 15 minutes!

Here is the post for you to read today (click here)! I am off to work on the master bedroom!

* To those who are just joining in, Mrs. Cat is a blogger who has great ideas on getting the house in order. We are reading her posts for 21 days as we work to declutter our homes.

by Lori Seaborg

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Day Seven: Decluttering Your Home

All I have for you today is Mrs. Cat's post on the challenge she presented (to not spend extra money for these 21 days). Click here to see the post.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Day Six Decluttering Our Home: The Office

It is so easy for papers to get out of hand, isn't it? I have a computer-paper box just full of papers that I need to sort through. At least there is only that one box to do. I've had a dozen at a time in the past.

The #1 thing that helped me cut down on paper clutter is to take care of the mail the minute it enters the house. I don't even open junk mail, unless it is from a company with which I already do business (I open those because I've been surprised in the past to have a refund check or an important note in what was disguised as junk mail).

We also subscribe to few magazines now. I wasn't taking the time to read them anyway, and then I'd feel guilty about throwing away something I hadn't read! When you get rid of your magazines, take them to your doctor or dentist office. Have you ever noticed how old their magazines are? Ugh!

About the bills.....

What works well for us is a very simple system that we created after years of frustration:

In a three-ring binder (mine is RED so I won't lose it), I have:

several page protectors
college-ruled paper
a pencil case (or use the binder's front pocket)

On the page protectors, I wrote in permanent marker:
"To Do"
"Bills To Be Paid 1-15th"
"Bills to Be Paid 16-31st"
"Paid Bills"

The college-ruled paper is kept behind the page protectors.

The pencil case is kept in the front of the binder. It holds a credit card for paying bills online, a checkbook, envelopes, stamps, and a pen.

Now that I have the binder set up, here is the system:

One sheet of paper is labeled with the current month. "January 2006" is our current paper. It is placed in front of all of the page protectors.

When a bill comes in, I write simple information on my "January 2006" paper, such as:


For example, when a bill comes from my phone company, I write:


The bill with its envelope wrapped over it is then placed in the page protector pocket of the date range where it belongs, which in this case is "Bills to Be Paid 1-15th."

When I pay a bill, I simply write the following on the (January 2006) sheet of paper:

1/08---Bellsouth---$47.00---OL 1/01 CC (or PH Lisa 1/01 CK)

My codes:

OL=online; SNAIL=post office mailed; PH=phone-try to get the name of who took the info; TELLER=in person

CC=credit card or bank card; CK=check; CA=cash

I pay almost all of my bills online, and my email program saves the email from the company saying that they received my payment, so I don't usually write down a confirmation number on my paper.

I then write OL 1/01 CC on the paid bill, in case I find it loose later and wonder if I've paid it (this step is not at all necessary, but since we have a mischievous toddler, it is nice). The paid bill is then placed in the PAID BILLS folder.

At the same time, I remove the last paid (Bellsouth) bill, because I know that they received the payment or the balance would have been off. (I do keep medical bills longer if they have itemized information on the bill, because I've had disputes with the hospitals before, and have been double-billed for items. If your credit card company does not have good online records, you might want to keep this bill for record-keeping, too).

The "To Do" pocket is used for things like bills that come in too early to be put in the To Be Paid pockets, such as our Auto Registration Bill which comes too soon. It is also used for forms that we need to sign or offers that we may want to accept. Rather than taking time to do them when they come in, I let the offers or forms wait until our Bill Paying Day, around the 1st or 15th. This pocket is always cleaned out on the 1st or 15th, keeping its clutter down.

A couple of notes:

I like to pay our bills on the FRIDAY before the 1st of the month and the 15th of the month (but making sure there is enough time for a snail-mail bill to get there). Why Friday? Because paychecks often come on Fridays, but also because creating a day of the week to think of bills helped me to form a habit of remembering to do them. If it is not the Friday before the 1st or 15th, I am then happy to ignore my mind's reminder.

I used "I" in the above, but actually Tim and I have found it more pleasant to do our unpleasant Bill Paying task together. Usually, he takes care of any phone calls and I take care of online payments. He does the math, and I am the record keeper.

p.s. Here is the link to Mrs. Cat's post on Decluttering the Office.

by Lori Seaborg

Monday, January 23, 2006

DAY FIVE Decluttering Your Home: Family Room

I feel like I've been let off the hook today. Our focus, in Mrs. Cat's posts, is the Family Room, and that is the one room that I keep continually picked up and clutter-free.

That wasn't the case in our smaller home, and I think it had something to do with the plethora of magazines I used to keep and the toys that I'd store in the room and the plants that were forever being tipped over by clumsy toddlers.

In our current living room, there is lots of furniture: big fluffy chairs and couches to sit on and a big screen television. There is only one basket in the room, and that is the one that holds the pine cones for fire starters. It is set near the fireplace. Next to the t.v. is the DVD player and the XBox -- they are just on the floor. A guitar and a drum are near the t.v., and there is a rug in the center of the room. That's it! It's a large space, but we haven't filled it with knick-knacks and tables and lamps and plants, etc. At our childrens' ages, empty space is something they enjoy more than anything. They love to set up the train track or build Lego creatures on the big rug in the Family Room.

No coffee table, no extra bookcases, no plants . We use t.v. trays when we snack in the room (adults only, except in special cases when we lay a sheet on the floor for the children).

The simplicity of the room allows everyone to enter it feeling calm and relaxed. It tends to be everyone's favorite room to hang out, and I think that has to do with the lack of clutter in the room.

If your kids are also young like mine (we have four under age 10), you might want to consider keeping your Family Room more empty than full, too. This not only gives the kids room to play, but you'll find yourself less frustrated as you don't have to worry about them breaking things or spilling potting soil on your carpet!

Here is the link to Mrs. Cat's post (click here).

by Lori Seaborg

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Day FOUR Decluttering Challenge: The Bathroom

Today's focus is on the bathroom. You can read today's advice in Mrs. Cat's entry, which we have been reading daily (click on this last sentence to go there).

Here are a few of my own bathroom tips:

  • Wipe the bathroom every day with a Clorox (or whatever brand) antibacterial wipe. I usually use one wipe; sometimes two. Wipe in this order, so that you are going from cleanest to dirtiest, as far as germs are concerned: the doorknob, the light switch, the sink handles, the countertop, the sink, the toilet top, the toilet seat, and the base of the toilet. If you do this daily, you will never have to face cleaning a dirty bathroom again. It will always be maintained and company-ready. Another plus: your kids can do this easy job for you!
  • Change the hand towel daily. This cuts down on germ-spreading and is a minimal amount of extra laundry to do.
  • The push-up Aquafresh for Kids toothpaste is a good one to give the kids, as it only allows them to pump up the right amount each time. No toothpaste messes and no waste!
  • Keep extra toilet paper in the bathroom, preferably within reach of the toilet. This seems like common sense, but I've been guilty of only storing it in the hallway closet!
  • Have the kids sponge the bathtub and shower area while they are bathing (or before they get out). Just let them use one of those scrunchies (I dedicate an old one to this job) and let them use plain old soap. It does a fine job and isn't toxic for your little ones. When the shower and tub are soaped-up, turn on the shower to rinse.
  • Recently, I found trashcans at BigLots that are perfect for a bathroom. They are plastic and have a hinge lid, the kind that swing back and forth like a big trashcan at a park or a stadium. They were only $1.99 each and nestle right next to my toilet nicely. I put a plastic grocery bag in mine as a liner. These trash cans are very nice for your used Kleenexes and for your "monthly visitor", as they hide the trash. (I've also seen stainless steel trash cans like these at Tuesday Morning. Of course, they were much pricier, but very chic!)

I'll keep us going on our decluttering again, starting Monday. Have a wonderful weekend!

by Lori Seaborg

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Mary Jane's Ideabook, Cookbook, Lifebook

Well, it was finally time to remove the Christmas book that I had on the left column on this blog! I mean, how long after Christmas must you wait for me to update my blog? So sorry about that!

I've replaced the Christmas book with the book that I am currently reading, called Mary Jane's Ideabook, Cookbook, Lifebook. I like to be sure of a few things before buying a pricey book like this one:

Is it full of useful content?
Is it pretty to look at?
Is it big?
Yes to all of those regarding this book! It is full of useful content such as recipes and craft projects and many little reads that make my heart feel warm and fuzzy.

It is pretty to look, make that breathtaking. Mary Jane's farm is in Moscow, Idaho, which is very near Gold Hill, Idaho, where my father grew up. I love to visit the family's homestead site, with the nearby one-room schoolhouse and tiny church. Mary Jane's photographs bring me back to Gold Hill each time I look at them.

And, yep, the book is big, with 416 pages of 8-1/2 by 11" paper.

I've only had the book for a few days but already I am loving it. It will make a wonderful gift for the women in my life who love the home and garden as I do.

by Lori Seaborg

DAY THREE Decluttering Challenge: Children's Bedrooms

Honestly, I'd rather skip the focus of today -- the Children's Rooms! Tim and I were blessed greatly with one little one who cleans spectacularly and organizes her room daily. ...... And then we have boys....two that don't want to pick up and don't seem to be able to organize. I have them do daily chores, but they just don't see the messes! Or so they say...

I've removed quite a few of their toys, but I've never done the drastic measure that Mrs. Cat suggests. I'll take things away for a little while, then feel bad about it and return it to the culprit. Mrs. Cat is much stronger than that.

Read her entry for today and let me know what you think!

Lori Seaborg

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

DAY TWO Decluttering our Front Entrances

Tim and I spent the afternoon in the back yard, decluttering it. We picked up lumber and stacked it, put branches in the burn pile, and Tim even shingled the roofs for our goats and chickens. Now I want it to rain, so we can test it out!

We also moved the bunnies to be near the goats' pen. This keeps all the animals (except the dog, Toby) in one place. The goat pen adjoins the chicken aviary and the rabbits are attached to the wall of the goats' pen. I hope they enjoy one another's company! I think that moving the animals like this is a form of decluttering, as it allows me to be more efficient in the mornings when I feed the animals.

Today's challenge from Mrs. Cat is our Front Porch area. We didn't get to that at our house today, as we had our 2-year-old outside with us and didn't want her near the front road. Feel free to adjust the challenges to suit your day, also.

Here is your reading for today! Be sure to read what Mrs. Cat says about our goal of not spending extra money for these 21 days. Enjoy!

(a note: I apologize for not getting this up this morning! Tim is off work today, so I plumb forgot to blog it!)

by Lori Seaborg

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Decluttering Challenge -- DAY ONE

Today is our first day to work on decluttering our houses! Are you as ready as I am?

If you missed the Introduction to this topic, please scroll down to read yesterday's post. You are not behind! Especially not yet - we haven't really begun yet.

Your first task today is to read Mrs. Cat's Day One post. Your first assignment is to create a layout of your house.

My layout looks like this:

Front Porch
Foyer and Foyer Closet
Laundry Room
Living Room
Back Porch
Hallway and Hall Closet
Main Bathroom
Boys' Room and Closet
Girls' Room and Closet
Master Bedroom
Master Bathroom and Closets
(I'm leaving the Garage Monster out of the 21 Day Plan for this time around!)

For the rest of the day, as you wander through your house, pay attention to things that you may want to get rid of when you delcutter. Do you love the item? Does it bring back happy memories, or at least not sad/mad ones? Ask those questions as you decide what really deserve a place of honor in your home.

We are all working together for these 21 days, but since all of us have different rooms to tackle, and different messes in different rooms (for example, my Living Room is already clutter-free, but the Boys ' Room is a mess), we will work independently on each room. So, as Mrs. Cat suggests, and as FlyLady does as well, work for 45 minutes then take a 15 minute break, working as you can on each area. If you don't have a full 45 minutes free today, then just work 15 minutes each day in an area that needs it.

We will focus on certain areas each day as we keep reading Mrs. Cat's posts.

Are you ready? Create your Layout then start your timer and declutter a little today!

I'm with you!

See you tomorrow as we start on the Front Porch area!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Who Is With Me? Declutter Your House in 21 Days

I know we all have the excuse of the recent holidays, oh, and since today is Martin Luther King's Day, we also have the excuse of a current holiday.....but, whew!, is your house in as much need for a holiday break as mine is??

In this blog at some time or another I've written out our family's daily schedule and a homeschooling schedule, and who-knows-what other seemingly wise advice, but in reality, I'm just a gal spinning her wheels like you are. I have grand plans, but life, and four kids under age ten, somehow keeps me off balance!

Our problem, I can see clearly by the stack of boxes in my bedroom as I type, is CLUTTER. I think it was FlyLady who said, "If you have too much laundry to do, you have too many clothes!" Well, I am guilty of that 100%!

I hope I'm not disappointing you who regularly read this blog, but I think you need a dose of reality! Several of you have written me and commented on how together I seem to have it, or that I am intimidating to you, since you don't have it together quite yet. Well, like I say right on the Home Page of this blog, I am just the girl right beside you, not in front of or behind you. I'm learning right along with you. So often, we tell ourselves that others know all the secrets we don't know, and that everyone else has all her ducks in a row. I've found that is just not true! We are all struggling in one area or another.

I'm committing to getting my clutter under control. A clutter-free house is an easy house to keep clean. I know, because I've had that once, when we moved to this house two years ago. We didn't have any clutter inside (the garage did) and the house was a breeze to keep clean and company-ready. Somehow we collected too much stuff in the two years since our move. I want to have my decluttered house back!

I've sought out the counsel of others who are wiser than I am. I have been helped by FlyLady in the past, and she has some great advice. But for this decluttering, I'd like to try Mrs. Catherine's (a.k.a. Cat) series entitled "It Takes 21 Days."

Are you in this with me? 21 days to a clutter-free house?

If so, read Mrs. Cat's first entry, called "Who is With Me?"

And then let me know who is with me!

We're starting tomorrow, Tuesday, January 17th, 2006!

by Lori Seaborg

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year

Computer problems still plague us at home. I am praying daily for a little Divine Intervention! But on the bright side....

not having a computer gives me extra time in my day. I've been cleaning and organizing and crafting. It's the crafting that makes me smile. These have been fun days, even without a computer.

Still, I miss you all! I'm at my parent's computer in Florida right now for the holidays. I'll let you know when God answers our prayers and we are blessed with a working computer!

Have a wonderful holiday!

by Lori Seaborg

Thursday, December 22, 2005

St. Lucia's Day - December 13th

We are going to do a little something on St. Lucia's Day this year. My husband is 25% Swedish and our last name is Seaborg, so it is fitting that St. Lucia's Day is celebrated in our home. The thing is, he is so American that he doesn't know anything about Sweden or Swedish customs, so basically I'm just using that as an excuse to celebrate St. Lucia's Day. Why not add another fun day to keep the holiday season rolling along?

I don't know enough yet about St. Lucia's Day to explain the holiday to you. But I do know that there is a custom of the eldest daughter serving her parents breakfast in bed on the morning of St. Lucia's Day. I am all over that! I hope 8 years old is old enough!

I'll let other sites tell you more about St. Lucia's Day:

Here is a little history on St. Lucia's Day

This is a photograph of a little girl in a white dress with a red sash. She has battery-operated candles on her head and is carrying a serving tray for her parents.

How to celebrate St. Lucia's Day.

by Lori Seaborg

Merry Christmas

We are having computer problems at home (I'm using my parent's computer tonight). I wanted to let you know I"m still around, thinking about you, and will get back to blogging as soon as I can!

Have a wonderful Christmas!

Lori Seaborg

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

In the Spirit of Giving...

In the spirit of giving this Christmas, consider going to and finding a group in your area.

Freecycle groups are people in your area who want to give away and receive free items from each other. Our family has given away clothing, toys and shoes mostly. And we have received a basketball goal and a pile of rough-cut lumber.

I can tell you from experience that when you are generous, the blessings come right back at you. They don't usually come from the person to whom you gave (this is an important point to remember when helping out relatives - don't expect them to help you out later, or you may be disappointed).

One lady who is coming by today for girls' clothing, said she knew our street well because back when she first moved here, Farmer Bishop gave her some furniture. Later, she gave Brandy - the mom up the street with the blond 2-year-old - her extra dryer. Now, she is picking up items from me to take to her grandchildren who lost their home in Biloxi, Mississippi during Hurricane Katrina. See? The blessings continue.

by Lori Seaborg

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

It's St. Nicholas Day!

It's St. Nicholas Day!

We are going to have a pizza party (any excuse for a pizza party is a good thing in our house!), bake cookies from Sweden (from a recipe at the St. Nicholas Center, and have a Christmas tea while reading "Santa, Are You For Real?" by Harold Myra.

Because we were out last night, the kids are going to fill their shoes tonight with hay for St. Nicholas' white horse (or on a sleigh). I guess we were supposed to do this last night, but hopefully St. Nicholas will still come! (I can assure you, he will!). In return, the children will have a candy cane and a little gift in their shoes in the morning.

What is your family doing to celebrate Santa Claus (a.k.a. St. Nicholas) today?

Sunday, December 04, 2005

St. Nicholas Day ~ December 6th

Several years ago, when Tim and I were new parents, Tim and I needed to decide what Christmas traditions we wanted to pass on to our children. We definitely wanted our child and future children to celebrate Christmas as Jesus’ birthday, because that’s why there is even a Christmas Day, after all. But could we also fit the magical fun of Santa Claus into Christmas without taking anything away from Jesus?

For a while, we just opened our gifts on Christmas Eve and had our feast and a cake for Jesus on Christmas Day. That’s it. No Santa Claus. But as our children grew older, they started asking about the jolly red fellow they saw in the mall, and they kept seeing his image on nearly every sign in sight. There’s something cozy about believing in a magical reward for doing good. I could tell that the kids wanted to believe in Santa Claus.

It was a happy day when I read about St. Nicholas and realized that I could have both – a special, set-aside day for Jesus, and a celebration of Santa Claus, too. And I was also happy – no, delighted – to read that St. Nicholas’ day is December 6th. This gave me a way to extend the holiday season.

Who is St. Nicholas, Santa Claus?

Nicholas was Bishop of Asia Minor in AD 325. He was known for being an all-around great guy, very generous and kind to all. The story goes that Nicholas once threw bags of gold into a window one night, to help pay the dowry of a poor man’s daughter so she could be married. When he threw the bags of gold, they landed into the daughter’s stockings which were hung to dry near the fireplace.

(This is where we get hung stockings near the fireplace)

The Santa Claus that we Americans have grown up knowing – the one who comes down the chimney, wears a red robe, and says, “Ho, ho, ho,” originated in 1822 when Reverend Clement Clarke Moore wrote a poem to his daughters. This Santa Claus is a fictional character, but one that many Americans love.

You’ll have to decide which Santa you want to celebrate – the American version of 1822 or the real St. Nicholas of 325. I think you can figure out ways to mix the two, if you like, and celebrate them both on St. Nicholas Day on December 6th each year.

You can read a lot more about the history of St. Nicholas at the website that I’ll mention at the end of this article.

How can we celebrate St. Nicholas Day, December 6th?

This is only our third year celebrating St. Nicholas Day, so I don’t have a lot of traditions established. You will want to visit the website mentioned below for more on how to celebrate St. Nicholas Day. Here is what we have planned for December 6th this year:

On the night of December 5th, the children place carrots and/or hay in their shoes. Legend has it that if a child leaves a treat for St. Nicholas’ white horse, he will leave a gift of candy and a present for the child. I don’t tell my kids that the real St. Nicholas will be coming down from Heaven to do this, but I tell them that since St. Nicholas was such a kind person, he has inspired others to do kind deeds like he did. The kids then get all twinkly-eyed trying to guess who would do a “St. Nicholas deed.”
We like to bake, so this year we will try the St. Nicholas Breads at the St. Nicholas Center website (below), and maybe some cookies from Germany or Switzerland.
Since St. Nicholas was known for giving to the poor and needy, we are going to go through our belongings in the next few days, and have them ready to give away on St. Nicholas Day.
After our trip into town to give away items, we will have an afternoon tea (with our baked items front and center, of course!)

You can read a lot more about St. Nicholas Day at this website devoted to the day: . The site is full of recipes from around the world, traditions from other countries, a kids page and much more. I love to visit this site!

by Lori Seaborg

Friday, December 02, 2005

Christmas All Season Long

”Can you not see it is clear folly to crowd Christmas into twelve very
full hours of one day and expect everyone to enjoy themselves?
Christmastide is, after all, not just a day but a season.
Let us make the most of it. By spreading out the gifts, parties,
and special treats over an extended period, parents quiet down
the choruses of ‘I can’t wait,’ as our little ones discover that
they can indeed learn to wait –
as long as they don’t have to wait very long.” ~

Mrs. Sharp's Traditions

A few Christmases ago, I decided that Christmas was becoming more of a burden than a good time. The day after Christmas, I was faced with a huge mess – wrapping paper scrunched up across the floor; a new toy already broken; greedy, grouchy and over-sugared children; leftovers to deal with; the tree’s needles scattered across the carpet; decorations to pack up; and a few store returns, the thought of which created a migraine. Yes, Christmas had become a burden.

Memory-making is terribly important to me. I determined to figure this holiday thing out before the kids had a childhood-full of grumpy Christmas memories.

I absolutely believe in what Mrs. Sharp is saying in the above quote. Can’t we see that it is crazy (she says folly) to celebrate all in one day? What great expectations we are putting on one little day! We think we are supposed to enjoy family, invite friends, sing carols, open perfectly chosen and perfectly wrapped gifts, enjoy a dinner as large as Thanksgiving, give at least a thought if not a basket of fruit to someone else, and have a tray of goodies to equal all the sweets eaten all year long, plus much more – all in one day.

Are we absolutely crazy??

Well, I was.

So with the reminder in my heart of the true meaning of Christmas, and with the help of Mrs. Sharp in the book above, I decided to change.

Over this next week, I will write you a series of articles about holiday traditions that we have observed in our home. Instead of celebrating Christmas all in one day, we celebrate a holiday season that stretches from Thanksgiving Day through February’s Mardi Gras celebrations. I will focus, in my articles, on December’s traditions.

I will share my ideas with you, but honestly, I’m as eager as you are for new ideas. So please feel free to share your family’s traditions in the comments.

Let’s extend the Christmas spirit throughout the month of December, starting today, December 1st !

Coming Articles (blog posts):

St. Nicholas Day
St. Lucia’s Day
Christmas Eve
Boxing Day
New Years
Twelfth Night

Monday, November 28, 2005

A Little Extra Cash

If you want to make a little extra cash, and if you enjoy blogging and don't mind copying and pasting your blog posts from Blogger to another site every day...... might want to check out Writing Up, a blogging community which was started by two computer and marketing guys. It's free (as is just about everything I do online), and isn't any kind of "sign up," really. You're just creating a blog, just like you did here at Blogger.

How will you make money, then? Google Ads will be placed on your blog there. That's something I've been doing here for a couple of months (see mine on the right column, scroll down -- oh, and click on them so I get a few pennies!). You'll get the revenue from the ads.

What ads will be on your site? I was worried about this when I first signed up to place Google ads on this site. But the ads are based on content. In other words, the ads change all the time based on what you wrote. I have gotten ads from the American Red Cross and Martha White flour and Super Target. Usually, the ads are so great that I find myself visiting the sites! Your ads will not be on the shady side, unless you are writing that way. I once got an ad for meeting singles. I didn't want that ad on my site, so I simply went to Google Adsense and blocked that ad from being on my site.

I'm a huge skeptic when it comes to "make money from home" opportunities, because there are too many scammers out there. But I did create a simulcast blog at Writing Up, because I already know that Google Ads are a fine way to make a few dollars each month (I'm getting around $50 a month between Writing Up and this blog's ads but I've just started, so that should really increase), and because all I have to do is write a blog here at Blogger, like normal, and then copy and paste it at the Writing Up site.

A no-brainer way to make a passive income. That is sooo my style!

How do you get started?

1. Click on my Google Adsense banner (in the right column) and create a Google Adsense account. This is easy to do and - of course - free.

2. Go to Writing Up (click on the name anywhere in this blog) and create a blog there. It's free and very quick to do.

3. Blog every day and wait a little while for it all to kick in. Once it does, you should be getting a little revenue each month (note: Google pays you each time you reach $100, so you'll have to wait until you get to that point before you get your first payment).

by Lori Seaborg

Use the links above to check it out and let me know what you think.

by Lori Seaborg

Sunday, November 27, 2005

How to Get More Readers to Your Blog

Someone recently asked me how to get more readers to their blog. Here is what I suggested:

1. The best way to keep others visiting your blog is to blog! Silly-sounding, but it works! Blog every day if possible (that's something I preach but don't practice), but at least a few times a week. Readers will stop coming to your blog if they don't see new posts.

2. Visit others' blogs and leave comments there. This is my #1 way of promoting my own blog. Don't say, "Come visit my blog" - that' s not in good taste. Instead, comment on the blog post that you just read, or you may say, "I was just writing about this on my blog, too....". Out of curiosity, people will click through to your blog (always, always sign in before commenting or your comment will be "anonymous," and then there won't be a link to click).

3. Add a few friends to your blog. When people see that they are your "friend" they will often add you, too, and they'll be curious about your blog, so will visit it. You can add friends in the maintenance page (where you add new posts). Click on "Manage Friends."

4. When you write a post, now and then end it with a question. In your post on Managing School Time, you might ask, at the end of the article, "So how do you manage your school time?" This encourages commenters.

5. You need to have your blog in your email signature. Write it in its full form, such as . By adding the http://www, you are making the link clickable. Anyone who reads your emails will then know about your blog.

Does anyone else have any other suggestions?

by Lori Seaborg

Friday, November 25, 2005

Turkey Carcass Soup

Wait! You didn't toss out the turkey bones yet, did you? If not, you have the chance to try out this Turkey Carcass Soup!

Thanksgiving Night (tonight is fine):

Toss the turkey bones, skin, yuckies, and all, into a big stock pot and cover the turkey carcass with water.

Add 1-2 whole, unpeeled onions and about a tablespoon of peppercorns and a few garlic cloves, if you have them. (all of these added ingredients are optional. Other options are 2-3 bay leaves, leeks (washed, but toss in all of it), and whole fresh herbs like oregano, chives, thyme).

Turn this pot on low and let simmer all night long (if you have less time, boil the water, then reduce to low and simmer for at least four hours. The longer time, the more rich the stock, though.

The next morning:

Strain all of the whole ingredients from the stock. You are left with rich, brown turkey stock (especially if you had a deep-fried turkey this year!). You can either boil this stock to reduce it (this will strengthen the flavor even further), or - this is what I do - you can freeze some of the stock for later soups (any time a recipe asks for chicken or turkey stock, use your own!).

Keep enough stock in the pot for your Turkey Soup: 8 cups worth, or so?

Later in the day, about 1-2 hours before dinner:

To the stock, add the following leftovers and ingredients:

a Tablespoon of salt (I use Kosher)
Thanksgiving leftover veggies (green beans, carrots, whatever sounds good in soup)
Thanksgiving leftover mashed potatoes (these help thicken the soup)
Thanksgiving leftover turkey meat
chopped onion and garlic (if you'd like)
other Thanksgiving leftovers that would be good in a soup

Let this soup simmer for 1/2 hour to 2 hours (or all day, like I do, but add the veggies - carrots, beans - at the last 1/2 hour so they won't be too mushy).

A 1/2 hour before dinner:

Add some noodles - homemade or purchased, or some biscuits to the soup and cook/simmer until they are done. Or, use serve leftover Thanksgiving dinner rolls with the Turkey Carcass Soup.

This is one of my husband's favorite meals, with homemade noodles or dumplings in it. Mmmmm!

by Lori Seaborg

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Creating Herbal Pillows

In our house, there is always an herbal pillow in the freezer, one under each pillow, and an extra one in a kitchen drawer. Our children (ages 2-10) love their herbal pillows, especially the “Owie Pillow,” which is stored in the freezer.

To make soothing herbal pillows to heat or freeze, you need only three basic items: a grain, an herb, and the pillow.

The Grains:

Grains are used in pillows to retain heat or cold and to give the weight desired. Choose one of the following grains for your pillow:

Flax Seed: Flax seed contains linseed oil, so it retains heat and cold remarkably well. It has a wonderful "weight" to it, making it ideal for eye pillows or for muscular aches (the pressure of the weight is soothing). You'll get only one 6"x 6" pillow from one pound of flax (it's that heavy!). You can find flax seed at your local health food store, but I think the prices online are better.

Buckwheat: Buckwheat has a light weight. It retains cold and heat, although not nearly as well as flax. We like to use buckwheat for a pillow that needs to be lightweight, or for a less expensive pillow that can be tossed around the house. Buckwheat makes great traveling pillows for the neck. You get around 16 cups of buckwheat per pound, so you can make a few pillows with that. You can purchase buckwheat online, also at the above links.

Rice: Just use any grocery store rice! Rice is inexpensive. It retains heat and cold fairly well.

Beans: Look at the grocery store for this one as well. Choose any beans or lentils. They retain heat, not through oils, but just through their density (like a brick would). Inferior to flax and buckwheat, beans still have their uses when you want to save money!

The Herbs:

Herbs that are good for pillows are the soothing and relaxing herbs, like chamomile, rose petals and lavender. Herbs that help with breathing are the mints or lemon grass. You can mix any combination of herbs that you like.

Some excellent blends are peppermint & chamomile (relaxing; helps with breathing and sleeping); lavender & rose petals (soothing; romantic); and lemon grass & spearmint (helps with breathing; invigorating).

The Pillow:

Create pillows in any shape you like, but be sure to use a “breathable” fabric, such as cotton. Herb pillows are often sold in the shape of neck pillows, baby's tummy squares, and "log" shapes for the lower back, to mention only a few. Create your pillow in any shape. If you dislike sewing, use a tube sock or a small muslin pouch.

The Technique:

1. Mix your selected herbs and grains at a 2:1 ratio (eg. 2 cups grains to 1 cup herbs - feel free to change this ratio).

2. Fill the pillow with the herb/grain mixture.

3. Close the pillow securely so the herbs won't slip out.

4. To use for cool therapy, freeze the pillow and use when needed. For warm therapy, microwave the pillow carefully in 30-second increments until it is at the desired heat.

Most pillows retain their herbal scent for about a year.

Some Ideas for Your Herbal Pillows:

· Owie Pillow: Use any of the grains listed and keep this pillow in the freezer for kids’ “owies” (non-bleeding, of course!). This has cured MANY an “owie” in our house!

· Dream Pillow: Create a pillow with any or all of the following: chamomile, lavender, peppermint, rose petals, hops, spearmint, eucalyptus... This pillow will aid in sleeping better. Keep it under your pillow (use a 1:1 ratio on this pillow).

· Labor/New Mom Pillow: I have not been without my rice and herb pillow in all four of our babies' births. Tim used the hospital's microwave to warm up my pillow each time I needed its warm therapy. I placed it on my back during labor for our first child, and on my stomach after Cesearean section for the last two children.

· Headache Pillow: Shape this pillow to fit over your eyes or forehead for headaches. Warm therapy is nice for a headache.

· Travel Pillow: Create a pillow in the shape of a neck roll for traveling. Buckwheat is the best herb for this pillow, as it is lightweight and moves freely.

· Baby's Tummy Pillow: For our colicky infants, a rice-filled square pillow has worked nicely. I warm up the pillow, place it on my arm, and place my baby upside-down with her tummy on the pillow. Or, I place the pillow in her crib and lay the baby on it. Be sure to test this pillow for the proper heat before using. The mints are excellent for babies.

Herbal pillows make wonderful gifts for baby showers, holidays, and birthdays. Be sure to create a few for yourself, too!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

A Few Favorite Books

I just love reading book lists from others. I don’t like to buy a book unless I already know it is good, or at least was recommended from a trusted source. Below are a few of the books that I most adore. Click on the links to see the book online:

This is a beautiful book, full of beautiful photographs. I think this book may be directly responsible for my deep desire to one day have goats (a dream that came true only last week when I acquired two angora does). I love the simple living of Tasha Tudor, who insists on living as if it is still the 19th Century.

Mrs. Sharp’s Traditions is full of Victorian-style traditions and rituals that a family may do for holidays or special days. I pull out the book and browse through it at least once a month, looking for new ideas to make days special. Because of this book, our family now celebrates St. Nicholas Day in early December, which leaves Christmas Day all to Jesus.

I’ve found this book easy to understand. I was able to teach myself how to knit through the book. When I saw a fellow homeschooler knitting one day, I asked her to make sure I was doing it right. I was! With this book, one starts out learning to knit and progresses into more difficult projects through the book. By the end, you’ll be designing your own knitted project.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Our Days

Hello, all! Thank you for being patient with me last week. We had Tim's sister, her husband and their four kids visiting for eight days. We had EIGHT kids ages TEN AND UNDER for eight days! Can you imagine what our noise level was?

We had a great time, letting the kids run through the splash pad fountain at the mall, visiting the National Museum of Naval Aviation (worth a trip to Pensacola, Florida to see!), seeing more family in Mobile, Alabama, deep-frying a turkey for dinner, barbequeing a few dozen hot dogs, eating s'mores, drinking strawberry and pina colada homemade slushies (a.k.a. non-alcoholic daquirris), ordering steak dinners to go (just us adults, after the eight kids were in bed), playing Rook every night, creating beaded earrings, shopping in our adorable downtown Fairhope, watching the men play basketball, and so much more. Part of "so much more" includes chasing our two angora goats, who escaped their pen on Sunday. That is not fun!!

I'll get back to blogging again now. I've missed you!

by Lori Seaborg

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Propagating Mints

A student in the landscaping class that I teach brought me aPennyroyal cutting this week and a cutting of Spearmint. As most gardeners do, he expected a trade, so I was happy to give him cuttings of my Mountain Mint and Lemon Thyme.

A cutting is a little slip of a plant about 6-10" long that can be placed in a medium until it grows roots. That "medium" might be water, soil, vermiculite, sand, or peat. Propagation is a fancy word for rooting cuttings of plants.To root mints (including pennyroyal and the thymes), your job is veryeasy. Just use your fingers to pinch off a piece of the plant, about6" long. Place the cutting, cut side down, into some soil or anothermedium mentioned above (my favorite is vermiculite, as it holds itsmoisture and is lightweight). You don't need to worry about addingrooting hormone to these cuttings -- they are a natural at rootingall by themselves. Keep the cutting moist, but do be sure that extrawater is able to drain away.

After a couple of weeks, if you are antsy, you may check on your cutting by gently lifting up on the stem. If it is tight, you probably have roots ready. If it pulls up, wait longer.If you have the self-control needed, as I do not, leave the cutting alone for 3-8 weeks (depending on how warm the soil has been) so that you don't damage the little roots by checking on them. When the cuttinghas a nice supply of roots (several at more than 1-1/2" long), youmay put it into a prepared pot with potting soil or into the garden.
Trading cuttings not only saves you money, but also allows you toexperience the gift of sharing!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Contentment, from 2003

I was searching for an article to send to an editor as a "clip" (example of my writing) today, and bumped into the following, so I thought I'd share it with you all. The "baby" in the post is now 2-1/2 years old. At the time, we were living in a 1290 sq. ft. house in Florida.

These are baby days in our household. Our little girl, Alyssa Belle,was born on February 22, 2003. She's about 7 weeks old now and sucha cutie! We are so busy with her. I have had a hard time with beingcontent with the lack of work I can get done in a day. But time will fly and Alyssa Belle will one day have as long of legs as her 7-year-old big brother. Maybe I'll long for these colicky-cuddly days then, so I'm reminding myself to cherish these days now.

Now that Alyssa Belle is 7 weeks old (tomorrow), already things are getting easier than they were just a few weeks ago. So, today Iplanted my herb garden. Of course, it was planted in little peatpots rather than in the garden. I'll transplant the little darlings once they germinate. There's not a chance to go out and hoe for the plant babies when I have my human baby to tend!

Life these days is all about learning contentment. Either I can moan and rage at my little, overflowing home and its sandy-soil yard andthe lack of time on my hands -- OR, I can thank God for these four children blessing my life and make trade-offs in my mind. "Okay," I say, "no garden in the ground? Let's use pots." "The floors in the house are almost never clean? Let's make a game of clearing as much as we can." All day long, I pray for serenity and think of ways tomake this life of mine spin less crazily.

As I tell my children, "Do all things without murmuring and disputing." (a Biblical Proverb)

Now, that's easier said than done!

~ April 11, 2003

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

God's Vessels

I was given a gift today.   Our garage and master bathroom, and even my bedroom have been flooded with Hurricane Katrina donations for the past couple of months.  The boxes get moved, some get emptied, but then others arrive to take their place.  It’s been a lot of extra work.  Worthy of our time and space, I know, but sometimes it almost seems too much…

So two days ago, I offered some of the boxes on Freecycle, a really neat program where you give and take free items within your area.  I was a little worried that we wouldn’t be really helping any hurricane victims, which was the point of the boxes coming here in the first place.  But I mentioned that in the note, and added that the point is that the donations help people, so I’d like them to go out to whoever needs them.  

In response, I met the most wonderful people, and my life is richer for it:  

First, there was Misti, whose husband just offered a week of his time in Waveland, Mississippi.  He took a week without pay, leaving pregnant Misti and their four-year-old daughter.  They are glad he volunteered his time, but they are noticing the pinch of the lost paycheck.  Misti took two boxes, a case of Huggies, and a dozen outfits for her four-year-old.

Then Brandy came.  Her sister lost all of her belongings when her college flooded in the hurricane.  She had moved into the dorms just two weeks before.  Now, she lives in a “dumpy trailer” as Brandy calls it, in a location that seems a little shady.  But it was given to her rent-free, and there are no other options.  Brandy is the older sister, so she tries to look out for her younger sister.  But she says she can only do so much – they have a baby to care for, too.  I gave Brandy two boxes for her sister.

Natalie emailed me, asking if I had any extra toiletries.  I did, so she drove 40 miles round-trip to pick them up.  She is volunteering at the homeless shelter in Mobile, Alabama this weekend and will create packages of toiletries for them. Natalie was so grateful for the donations; they were running low because most items are being donated to Hurricane Katrina evacuees.  Natalie took eight boxes of donated hotel-sized toiletries.  

All of the people touched my heart, but it was Grace who melted it.  Grace emailed that she was “financially spent.” She’s been helping three families who lost much in the hurricane.  Her grown daughter, a mother of two in her twenties, came with Grace to my house.  The daughter’s home was in Ocean Springs, Mississippi and all was lost, even her only transportation.  Grace’s daughter nearly started crying when she talked of the past two months of hardship.  Clearly, she is not over the trauma yet.   I gave Grace three family boxes for the three families she is helping, including her daughter’s.  I also gave her six children’s goodie bags, full of toys, books, and candy for the children.  

This is the note I got from Grace soon after she got home:



And now it is my turn to thank God’s vessel – you - all of you who donated cash and items for us to share.  And I especially thank God’s vessels who still remember the Hurricane Katrina survivors in your prayers and in your thoughts every day.

Life is not easy for them yet.  

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Useful and Useless TidBits of Information

A Laundry Tip:

Folding and putting away laundry are the hardest part of the laundry cycle for me. So I've found that at the times when I have LOTS of laundry to do (almost always), it is less overwhelming if I do linens (towels, sheets) in every other load. Since linens are easier to fold and put away than the clothing of six different people, doing laundry this way gives me reason to procrastinate and grumble about only half of the laundry.

A Kitchen Tip:

Clear counters make the kitchen look cleaner, which makes them seem to collect less mess. I have found places for even my Kitchen Aid, toaster, bread machine, and crockpot in cupboards. When we had a smaller house, I kept a few of those items in the laundry room. This makes the slightly less convenient to pull out when needed, but I think that inconvenience is minimal compared to the time saved cleaning around the appliances. Try it and see what you think.

A Bathroom Tip:

I've mentioned this before, but it's worth repeating: If you clean your bathroom every day, you'll never have to clean it! I buy Clorox (or non-brand) wipes. Using just one wipe each day (two, sometimes), I start with the light switch and doorknob to the bathroom, then the sink faucet, I wipe the counter and the sink bowl, then the top of the toilet, then the seat cover, then the toilet seat, and finally - if the cloth is not too disgusting at this point (we do have boys) - I'll wipe the base of the toilet and the floor around it. I've mentioned each area because I want you to remember something I learned in nursing school (yep, I pursued nursing for three years - but, no, I'm not a nurse): go from clean to dirty, wiping from the cleanest area (the light switch) and ending at the dirtiest (under the toilet seat).

A Mopping Tip:

Tim thinks that one of my most endearing qualities is my ingenuity (resourcefulness). I think he only likes it because of the money saved, but as long as I'm endeared, who cares why! Yesterday, he caught me rubber-banding a rag towel around my flat mop head (the kind that is often used for dusting, and comes with a microfiber cloth that attaches to it with elastic). The extra cloths cost $5 each at the store, so I thought I may as well make my own. I walked around with a spray bottle of cleaner in my hand, sprayed the floor, then mopped it with my towel-rigged-mop. It worked like a charm, and the towel can then be washed in the laundry.

An Attitude Tip:

My housecleaning attitude has perked up somewhat ever since I realized that I really do have household servants like the woman in Proverbs 31. My servants are: the washer, the dryer, the dishwasher, the breadmachine, the microwave, the stove, the hot water heater, the mixer, and all the other electronic items that make my life easier. Why, even the toilet is a modern-day servant! All that my servants require is constant management. They are quite lazy without management. Each day I have to hand my servants their workload, and I have to keep up with them to make sure they are doing it well. Some servants require less of me, like the Water Heater, who is such a reliable old gal. She doesn't require all that the Dishwasher does, bless her!

Do you have any household tips to share? If so, comment them below!

by Lori Seaborg

Friday, October 21, 2005

Wow! Look!

I got an email today, saying I'd won in a category for the Juggling with Hamsters contest that was held at Now, isn't that the most fun kind of email? Read the winners' posts at the above link - they are really great! - and then send an email to Spunky with your choice for the grand prize winner.

By the way: This is the article that I entered in the contest: Feeling Overwhelmed?

Another cool thing is that The Old Schoolhouse magazine asked to publish two of my Hurricane Katrina photos from our Katrina website. Of course, I said, "Sure!" So when you get your next magazine, look for my itty bitty name under two hurricane photos. Now I'm a published professional photographer -- the 3 "P's"! That sounds great!

by Lori Seaborg

Saturday, October 15, 2005

October 2005 Keeping the Home Newsletter is Up!

Keeping the Home Newsletter
October 2005

My latest newsletter was sent out today!

* My Latest Obsession: Pine Needle Basketry
* Living Simply, by Crystal Miller
* An Invitation to
* Links I am Enjoying
* What's Happening in My House

The newsletter is sent out monthly. If you'd like a copy, sign up with one of the following links: (ads, but you can view my newsletter along with your other Yahoo! subscriptions) (no ads, and a Christian-run, family-oriented subcription service)

by Lori Seaborg

As Heard in Our House

"I think I finally realized how a lullaby works." ~ 10-year old son, after listening to me sing to our baby

"Hows that?" ~ me

"It bores her to sleep. It almost bored me to sleep!" ~ 10-year-old

by Lori Seaborg

Monday, October 10, 2005

One of the Three Things: Waiting

Waiting for a little brother or sister to emerge.
Lori Seaborg 2005

Sometimes a snooze makes the wait go by faster.
Lori Seaborg 2005

Ahhh, it's nice to have someone share life with you.
Lori Seaborg 2005

One of the Three Things: My Attempt at Pine Needle Basketry

A messy attempt, but yielding a strong and joy-causing result. I am definitely hooked on this free and useful art form! (at least until the next craft comes to mind...)
Lori Seaborg 2005

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Three Things

I've been doing three things lately.  Just three, because when you're a mama of four, all the other "things" you do are entirely taken for granted by your brood.  I hear that one day I will wish for grimy fingerprints on the walls, and floors to mop, and mouths to feed.  But for now, I am not wishing any of that; I am living it!  Daily.  So this is what I've been doing when I'm not doing Mom stuff:
1.  Hatching baby chicks.  Technically, God is hatching them, but I'm watching it happen (every 10 minutes or less, admittedly).  This is our third hatch of chicks since we got our chickens a year-and-a-half ago, but it is our first hatching without the help of a mama hen.  She decided to quit being a mother just as they started to hatch, spreading the eggs around (breaking one, sadly), and giving up on the whole agonizing mess.  I know how to sound like a mama hen, at least I think I sound like one, so I make noises at the baby chicks every ten minutes as I stare at them hatching.  Did you know it takes an entire day for them to pop fully out of their shell?  Quite slow, indeed!
2.  Making my first Pine Needle Basket.  There is something about our first break from the hot summer that makes me crafty (this usually happens in September, not October!).  We have Long Leaf Southern Pines on our property and the needles are falling in plentiful supply.   So, I thought I'd take up the Native American craft of pine needle basketry.  I can't believe how easy it is.   Here are the instructions I am using. 
3.  Starting a Prayer Journal.  Honestly, this journal dates back to 2001, but only has a few entries in it.  This week, though, I have been faithful to use my prayer journal for seven days now.  It only takes 21 days to create a habit, right?  I'm 1/3 there.  Prayer is the hardest thing for me to do each day.  I'm talking about the sit-down-with-Jesus kind of prayers, not the fleeting ones that are in my head all day long.  It seems that the kids have a mom-needs-to-be-alone radar.  Well, I can't entirely blame the kids.  I am also a complete scatter brain, so my prayers easily turn into thoughts about what to do that day, or what needs to be done, and Oh! I need to return the library books, better get them ready....  So the prayers don't get to the heart-to-heart level that they ought.  Enter prayer journaling, which for me is a natural fit.  I can write my heart out and keep focused.  When I do get sidetracked (I always do), I just jot down my bright idea, then get back to my journal.  And when the kids interrupt, I lift my pen, answer them sweetly, and start writing again. 
I'll keep you updated on these three things.  Hope you are having a great weekend!
by Lori Seaborg

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

A Scrap of Lemon

I had a scrap of a lemon this morning .... that sounds like a great beginning sentence for a novel, but I don't write those, so you're going to get something a bit more practical out of this... It was the hollowed shell of a lemon, I should really say, although that sounds much less poetic. I'd squeezed the lemon, and the hollowed shell was left.

Anyway, I picked it up at lunch time and scrubbed the sink with the lemon scrap. It shined up my stainless steel sink beautifully, and I think it might have shined the brass drain (which has not been looking so brassy.

My now-smooshed lemon scrap still smelled good, so I plopped it into a pot of water and added some dried ginger and cinnamon pieces. I turned the stove on med-high to get it boiling, then lowered the heat to low (You could just start yours on low to simmer, but I was preparing lunch nearby, so thought I'd get a jump on it).

My kitchen is smelling so good right now. It smells like October!

....All from the scrap of a lemon.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Goals in Baby Steps

Thought I'd check in with you all and say hello.  I haven't forgotten about you; I've just needed a little time to step back and reassess.  We've been helping the Hurricane Katrina survivors full-time for a month now (with Hurricane Rita thrown into the mix).  Since the need for our help is lessening, as more federal and corporate aid has been arriving in the area, we are slowing down our efforts. 
I've been operating with hurricane, hurricane, hurricane on my mind, and all of a sudden I have to remember what I used to do, pre-hurricanes.  Oh, yeah, I used to be a mom, a wife, and a writer!
Because it's easier to be goal-oriented when you have a buddy, I convinced Tim to create a list of goals, too.  We chose what we want to be doing, or have done, by December 31, 2005. 
When creating our goals, to get us thinking straight, we thought of what we'd like to improve physically, spiritually, mentally, professionally, and family.  For example, under Physically and Professionally, I wrote:
Physically, by the end of the year, I want to be:
- eating healthily
- exercising regularly
- sleeping regularly
- helping the family choose healthier eating choices
Professionally, by the end of the year, I want to be:
- submitting articles regularly
- writing daily
- working with Celebrate Moms
- done with my web site, so it is ready to go live by New Years
- have a publication or ebook done and ready for sale
Then, to make certain that our goals have a chance of being accomplished, we each wrote down a Plan.  On paper, I wrote down:
How to Achieve Goals: 
1.  Eat breakfast, and eat every four hours (I tend to skip meals).
2.  Menu plan; keep pantry and fridge full of healthy options.
3.  Walk or do other exercise every day.
4.  Balance proteins and carbohydrates, and eat veggies and fruits daily.
5.  Read in bed by 10:30pm nightly (this is so I will hopefully fall asleep earlier than my normal 1-2am!)
1.  Write daily.
2.  Work on web site so it will be done by December 31, 2005.
3.  Submit articles weekly.
4.  Work on Celebrate Moms weekly assignments
Because I am a scatterbrain, and it takes only one pretty butterfly passing across the window before I am outside and chasing it, or one little baby who looks too cute for words and simply must have her photo taken that moment, I broke down my plan into Baby Steps.  I looked at my list of "How to Achieve Goals," above, and wrote down something I could do every day.  This is what I wrote:
"Each morning (or the night before), write down:
1.   What to eat every 4 hours for the day.
2.   When to fit in exercise.
3.   Writing assignment of the day.
4.   When to spend special time with one family member that day.
5.   When to fit in 15 minutes of extra cleaning.
6.  What we will do in homeschool, and when.
7.   When to fit in writing time.
8.   When to fit in website design.
9.   When to read.
10.   When to work on special assignments or special tasks.
11. When to go to any meetings or errands, if there are any.  "
So, last night, I looked at the above Baby Steps List, and wrote down a time for each thing on the list.  And that is why I am here, blogging, at 12:35pm.  Otherwise, I'd be off chasing the blue-tailed skink that just walked across my windowsill outside. 
by Lori Seaborg

Sunday, September 25, 2005

One Thought at a Time

This morning I was attracted to the view out the French doors of our river and our back yard. It has been days since we’ve seen sunshine, due to Hurricane Rita’s cloud cover. The sun was shining through the oak and cedar and birch trees, the river was sparkling, the wind was gusting, and the chickens looked as lovely as can be as they roamed among the jungle called “lawn” that needs to be . . .

. . . mowed. Badly. And there are broken limbs that need to be cut out of the trees. The logs that are stuck in the river from the hurricanes, what will we do about those? We can’t canoe until we get their massive selves out of the way. More tropical systems may come our way, like Rita. Oh, just great, look, Rita knocked over the lawn chairs and the tarp is in the neighbor’s yard again. And it is so blasted hot! When is it ever going to feel like late September? . . .

In the middle of those unlovely thoughts came an unexpected one:

Never complain about anything. Not even the weather.”*

I remembered something that I read a long time ago: We can only haveone thought at a time.That seems impossible for us multi-tasking moms, but it is true.We can only think one thought at a time. That means I can eitherdwell on our hard times, and negative things, or thank God for what I can find that is good.

Once I was reminded of my choice, I decided to again look at the good in the yard, and I thanked God that we are healthy and can do all of those big jobs we need to do. We will have months of lovely weather soon. And . . . I thought with a smile, if it wasn’t “so blasted hot,” I wouldn’t have lemons and tangerines to pick from my trees!

Now, I know that all of you do not have lemons to cheer you up, but you have something!

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite sayings:

“Two women looked through prison bars; one saw mud, the other saw stars.”

Lori Seaborg

p.s. *Both of today’s quotes are from my favorite nonfiction book, Calm My Anxious Heart, by Linda Dillow.
Click here to view the book on Amazon. Or, click here to view it at Christian Book Distributors.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Today September 23, 2005

Watching...the wind gusts blow tropical - hot and sticky - air across our trees and yard. see where Hurricane Rita will land. We will not be affected in any major way, except our beachfronts and maybe a few tornadoes (hopefully not!).

Trying...again, and again, to get our Florida house ready to sell. Hurricanes Ivan and Dennis have hit it this year, so Tim's over there all week fixing the last storm's damage and getting the house on the market, while hoping that Rita doesn't come East.

Knowing...that sometimes when things don't happen in our timing, God's timing is usually better. The hurricanes slowed down our plans for selling the house, but increased the market price and demand. We got a blessing out of a bad thing.

Smiling...when I saw that I'll be one of the Team Members for Celebrate Moms . Click on the name to sign up to get an email when the site goes live. I'm looking forward to working with the talented women who were selected for the team. I'm the only dork among them, I assure you! I'll try hard to act like I know what I'm doing.

Watching...(when I wasnt' watching the wind gusts) Martha Stewart's new t.v. show this morning. But it's not the same as the old one, and I'm not sure I like it as much. What do you think?

Sorting...through all of the donations that were sent for the Hurricane Katrina survivors. It has been a big job! But we are delighted to help them. house thoroughly. With all the boxes of donations, the house has gotten completely out of hand. I am here to rein it all in!

Reading...Marriage Undercover by Audrey and Bob Meisner. I thought I was just going to skim the book when I picked it up the other day. It had been in a pile of unread books I'd gotten from a publishing conference I attended last Februrary. A couple of hours after starting to "skim" the book, the children had to remind me that they were starving for lunch. I am amazed at the transparency of the Meisner's as they share how difficult it was for them to go through Audrey's marital affair, her resulting pregnancy, and how God helped them through it all. (Note: The above link takes you to Amazon, click on this one for Christian Book Distributors: Marriage Undercover .

by Lori Seaborg (for photos and updates on our Katrina efforts!)

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Feeling Overwhelmed?

Yesterday, I blogged about priorities and someone emailed, asking me to repost the following which I last posted in July:

Over a year and a half ago, I was teaching children's choir, teaching adult education classes two nights a week, singing in the adult choir at church, homeschooling two children with two babies underfoot, taking the children two full days a week to extra classes, preparing to move to a new location for dh's job, and running a website as a business. I was overwhelmed!Knowing that I was reaching my sanity's limit, I prayed for God to help me, with a please!

One night soon after my prayer, I walked into our six-year-old daughter's room and saw a basket hanging from her bunkbed with a stuffed animal and a note in it. I remembered that Brittany had told me she had a surprise for me, and to please come and look at it, but I was too busy filling an order for my business. Later, after I sent her to bed, she called me again to see her surprise, but I said was still too busy and I'd come when I could.Much later in the evening, I remembered that I had never gone back to see Britty's surprise. Feeling a little saddened that I was seeing it after she was asleep, I opened the note.

On it was written: "I want to do 100 things for you."For Brittany, a brand-new 6 year old who had four ear surgeries, writing that note would have been very difficult. It touched me to the core. In tears, I said aloud, "I want to do 100 things for you, too."It was as if a light turned on in that moment as I saw how busy I had made my life. Each activity was noble, of course, and worthy of someone's time, but it was not to be my time that was used. That night, in my little girl's room, I felt God's whisper. I heard Him whisper that I am to be first a wife, then a mother for this moment. He reminded me how quickly children grow up. It is only for a blink of time that they live with us. With my focus cleared, I immediately closed my website. I had always given it to God, so I didn't question that he could provide for us financially without my side business. Since we were moving for dh's new job, I was able to gracefully bow out of choir, children's choir, the extra classes, and teaching committments.

My husband became a top priority. I started caring whether or not he had clean clothes. I began greeting him as he walked in the door from work. Our children also became a higher priority. I started reading to them at night and singing with them in the day. I focused on their little faces and the fun we could create together. The house also became a priority. With practice, it became a joy to create meals and decorate and surprise my husband while teaching our children how to manage a home happily.

It has been over a year since Brittany's note and God's whisper. Lately, I have felt God's nudge to write again, as a ministry and as a home business. It is good to help others outside the family. It is good to make a little extra income. But I know that my ministry, business, or activity must never be more important than my family and my home.

If we young mothers talked to older mothers more often, they'd tell us that children grow up quickly. We already know that, but do we realize it? We fill our days to overflowing with activities; we run after ways that we can serve in the church; we start new businesses or keep old jobs; we agree to be the room mother or the leader of a group; we seek to minister to others.

Meanwhile, our families, the very ones that God specifically gave us to minister to, are set aside.

Are you feeling overwhelmed? Ask God to help you, with a please. He just might whisper in your ear, too.

by Lori Seaborg

Monday, September 19, 2005

Priorities (in Order of Priority)

I regularly forget my order of priorities, but when I remember them again, my days run smoothly. I wish I would stay on the right track all the time!

I first learned the order that I use from author Linda Dillow in her book, Creative Counterpart, a book that I very, very highly recommend for anyone who is a wife and a mom! My copy is worn from reading it over and over through the years. Just today, I had my copy of Creative Counterpart out during my "God Time". Some things, always the most important things, it seems, have to be repeated over and over to me, or I'll slip back into my old ways of selfishness. Does that happen to you, too? It seems that my brain has a leak when it comes to all things important. Ah, well, at least we have books to read (such as the Bible!) to keep us on track.

Here is the list of priorities, in order of first priority to last:






Others, which includes anything outside the home, even church activities and ministry

In Creative Counterpart, there is a study section in the back that I am working through (for the umpteenth time). Today's section suggested that we write a specific thing that we can do in the area of each priority.

This is what I wrote today:

For God: Be absolutely committed to a daily time with Him; no excuses, and no skipping! Make prayer a bigger priority.

For Tim (dh): Don't argue; don't complain; each morning, think of one thing that I can do for him that day.

For the Children: Spend time with each of them individually each week. My schedule for this, is: 2yo: Monday; 5yo: Tuesday; 8yo: Thursday; 10yo Friday. I learned this from a dorm mom I had in boarding school. Even though she had 22 kids to be "mother" to, she spent individual time with each child once a week for half an hour. I'm not telling my kids that I am doing this, in case the schedule needs to be flexible, but I will keep it in mind.

For the Home: Right now, I need to work on Menu Planning and making meal prep an easier task. Next, I want to work on decorating by visiting yard sales, and by doing what I can with what we have (scrubbing the walls is free to do!).

For Me: Give myself permission to work on my crafts or reading (or long baths!) daily, without guilt of what housework I think I "should" be doing. Permission granted! Also, walk daily.

For Others: Continue to blog (here!) and keep working on opening a website for other moms. Minister through the Internet, as that helps keep my family first while the children are so small. Also, right now I am helping the survivors of Hurricane Katrina through .

I encourage you to also write down your list of priorities, and think of what you can do in each area. Think of something that is pretty simple, so that you will know success.

by Lori Seaborg

Friday, September 16, 2005

Housekeeping like Nature's Example

Feeling discouraged about my house’s current messiness, I sighed this afternoon, and looked outside the window to the woods nearby.

But instead of a relaxing and orderly view, I thought, “Well, it’s a mess, too!”

I mean, there are all sorts of different types of plants there in the woods, with no rhyme or matching to them, except for their common green color.  The plants grow every which way, tangling themselves together with the help of fast-growing vines.  Some plants’ green leaves have turned brown; some are now yellow.  There is pine straw dangling from most leaves.  Even the birds can’t fly through these woods.  Rather, they tend to dive to their nests.  

I often think that in homemaking we should follow God’s example of creation.  Just as nature has seasons: rainy, dry, winter, summer; our home can have seasons: canning season, candle making season, attic-cleaning season, outside-all-day season.  Just as nature makes use of everything, without waste, so also can we learn to be frugal and careful by making the most of our income, by learning natural health care, and by mulching and composting our gardens.

Could we then follow nature’s example of my messy forest?  Well, we can at least learn from it.  

Some of us keep a messy house with little decoration.  We are like my forest in Alabama and Florida, where there is plenty of scrub brush, and you cannot walk a straight line without becoming tangled by the vines. Maybe once in a while, but you really have to look, you might find a bit of decoration in a blooming plant.  If we are like the Deep South forests, we need to work on cleaning our homes more efficiently, so our family will feel relaxed and guests will feel welcome.  We also need to work on adding a little decoration and scent to our homes.  

Some of us, on the other hand, keep a house so clean that nobody feels welcome in it, not even our own family.  We are like the desert, sparse and neat.  There is beauty in the desert, in occasional flowers or in painted rocks.  We will not get sick here, and we will enjoy the beauty of the house, but we will not feel like we can relax here.  If we are like the desert, we need to work on being more welcoming, by allowing a little more of the forest into our homes.  We’re doing a great job with decorating and cleaning, but we need to remind ourselves not to be obsessed about it.  

The forests of British Columbia and the forests of North Carolina offer excellent examples of good housekeeping to us.  One forest is more majestic, with huge trees and tall mountains, while the other is simpler, with bushes and small trees and large hills, yet each gives us a good idea of what would make a cozy home.  In these forests, you will find neatly kept forest floors, strewn with occasional flowers and scented leaves.  The forest is clean enough to walk through, yet decorated enough to be two of the most beautiful of nature’s Cathedrals.  We feel welcome here.  

I first started writing this article to say, “Choose what type you are, then be happy with that.”  But now that I’ve thought more about it, I think we should not be content to say, “Oh, that’s the way I am.”  What’s the point of a home?  A home is to shelter and nurture and serve your family, and to welcome guests.   If our home is not performing that way, we need to think about what we can do to change that.

Look outside your window.  What example is God teaching you through nature?  

While you’re looking out the window, I’ve got some cleaning to do!

Lori Seaborg (visit often for updates and new photos!)