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November 2013
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January 2014

project life | 52


I DID IT! I completed this year-long project of documenting our life each week (minus one or two weeks). To say I am relieved is not enough. To say I am grateful is not enough. To say I am ecstatic and grateful and relieved is pretty close to my feelings of accomplishment.

Clean and simple, and lots of white space will be my watchwords for 2014 Project Life.

Yep, I'm continuing Project Life into 2014.

But, this week was about new recipes, Christmas, date night, movies at the theatre, Jeff and the boys making some surprise money from a yard job, finishing a project and just a relaxed week.

Jeff and the boys were working in the yard and the cats were 'around', mostly staying out of their way, but exploring the backyard too.

And so ends our year 2013, documented for all time. Such a wonderful feeling.


currents | december


currently I am...

reading Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver and Origins in Death by J.D. Robb.

wearing my favorite black jeans with my favorite turquoise sleeveless sweater top, and my favorite half-sleeve black sweater.

looking forward to 2014.

wanting that Cuisinart Food Processor I didn't get for Christmas. And the FitBIt too.

needing to put in a big photo printing order with Persnickity Prints: Project Life pages, and 52 Gratitudes album to finalize the year.

anticipating documenting 2014 with Project Life - again.

deciding on my One Little Word for 2014.

watching Season 3 of Justified in preparation for Season 4 on New Years Eve.

excited to keep our 'new' tradition of watching movies all night and munching on appetizers and snacks all night on New Years Eve.

thinking I'm in desperate need of a new hairstyle and coloring.

preparing mentally for returning to homeschool and homeschool co-op full-time.

planning and goal-setting for 2014.

celebrating the calm, relaxed holidays and loving that we are moving into 2014 calm and relaxed.

admiring my husband for spending hours visiting a dear friend in the hospital who is going through chemotherapy.

loved overhearing my husband tell a friend on the phone that he couldn't take on outside jobs until he tended to some jobs that needed done at home. I thanked God.


january 2014 menu plans.


I have been planning our meals each month and making a calendar of meals, and date nights for several years now that it is a habit of mine to peruse my Pinterest Food Love board and my stash of recipes in my Recipe folder on my flash drive, and previously created menus in order to prepare the next months menu.

In this case, January 2014 Menu Plan.

Nothing new for 2014. I will still schedule date nights for Jeff and I in which the boys fend for themselves, while Jeff and I share a meal out to eat. Homemade Pizza is included each month and is also a Family Movie Night. Once a month I prepare a Breakfast to share with the Elevate volunteers on Sunday morning. Boy Scout campouts are scheduled. Small group desserts are planned. Because I work Mon-Thu, 2pm-12am, the boys are responsible for dinner on those nights so I must schedule meals according to their level of cooking expertise which is growing exponentially every day.

A big change this year is the occasional addition of Tacos on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. For some reason, eating left over tacos has become a chore for me and I haven't enjoyed them one time these last couple of months. So, I thought if I made them, and I ate them freshly made, not left over, I might enjoy them again.

A couple new recipes this month:

Tacos de Carnitas with homemade roasted Salsa Verde. Really looking forward to finally preparing this meal.

One Pouch Feast. A pouch of meat, potatoes, and vegetables, individually-wrapped for each person. Super easy and I can prepare ahead of time. The boys will just have to bake.

A new steak recipe, a new crockpot recipe, a new breakfast recipe for Elevate, and a couple of new desserts to try out on small group are all on tap for January.

We love our menu plans, and while they do at times get modified, and meals get moved around from one week to the next these plans have made life so much easier, with the added benefit of scheduled date nights.

project life | 51


Project Life 2013 is coming down to the wire. This week is the last week of the year, which includes Christmas week. I'll begin the new Project Life 2014 beginning on the 30th of December as it begins a new week that encompasses the new year.

Did I lose you yet?

But, for now I'm still catching up with Project Life, and other yearly projects, and with the desire and focus to finish strong planted firmly in my motivation bank I bring Project LIfe   |   Week 51.

I'm already planning Project Life 2014, pinning tons of ideas to my Project Life Pinterest board and I've notice something in the most recent selections. White space. Simple. White space. I love it.

With white space on my creative mind, I used all Paislee Press (and Liz Tamanaha products) for my Week 51. Lots of white space + black. Phots + journaling. Done. And done.

And I love how it turned out.

Moving on to the last week of the year - week 52...

30 new books in my 50th year.


When I turn 51, I hope to have read 30 new books over the past year. This past birthday, when I turned 50 I made this list of 50 things I want to accomplish in my 50th year. Some are really simple. Like, laugh everyday. Check; going well. Some will take some effort. Find an accountability partner.

On my list is read 30 new books. Seems pretty easy. But, I tend to lean toward J.D. Robb, read her two new offerings each year and in the interim re-read the entire series (which is pretty lengthy). I might pick up a non-fiction Christian book here or there and maybe a fiction book from the library with the hopes that it will spur on a flood of new reads but it just hasn't happened.

I figured this year I would be purposeful. Focus on reading new books. Giving it a try. Broadening my horizons. And it isn't going to hurt that the boys and I are reading American Literature this year in school. Books like Up From Slavery, Uncle Tom's Cabin, To Kill a Mockingbird, etc. can be added to my list easily and without remorse, as they are quality novels of intrinsic value.

I created a scrapbooking page that I will use and continue to modify as I read more and more new books - hopefully 30 new books in my 50th year. In fact, I thought making this page will actually fuel focus on reading new. So far, it is working!

While I have re-read those J.D. Robb books and her In Death series, I have also read 3 new books in just a month:

1. At Risk by Patricia Cornwell. Ahh, I never said the books would be good. Cornwell has written many titles and when I was in the library the other day I picked up this title having no idea as to whether it was a best-seller or not and was very dissappointed, thinking, "what is all the fuss?" But, I know my mom has read quite a few of her 'series' titles and likes her writing so I'll probably give Ms. Cornwell another chance.

2. Beyond Band of Brothers by Major Winters. Fabulous memoir by Major Winters of his life during his time with Easy Company during WWII. I picked this on the throws of watching the series Band of Brothers with Jeff and the boys over a period of time.

3. The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis. Amazing allegory. C.S. Lewis is nothing but brilliant. His allegory had me questioning the current state of my walk with God - here on earth.

With three titles down, I am really excited that I can accomplish this task on my list. That sounds good to me.

homeschool | american history on the big screen



John and Jarrod seem to really like American History. I understand completely that using film to teach American History is a marginal endeavor at best, but what films on or about American History can do is spark discussion about the time in history in question. What is fact? What is fiction? Where is the filmaker taking theatrical liscense and what is truth in history? How did the people live during those times, their beliefs that help shape decisions and ultimately history?

I shared recently here an update on our American Literature and our American History supplement readers. The list included a small list of DVD/Audio historical documentaries and movies. Even more recently I was perusing our library system to see if some of those items were available for checking out. This led me to some internet browsing for historical type movies and documentaries that I could add to the small list - and wouldn't you know it I found a pretty extensive list that could very easily become unmanageable.

We were in the library last week and wouldn't you know it but I was in the DVD section of the library and there was the movie Lincoln, Dances with Wolves, and April Morning - three movies I recently added to my list. Score!

While we don't actually have a really big screen, just a small humble 32" television, we enjoy watching movies, and the boys will watch whatever I throw at them history-wise. I wanted to share our extensive list of movies and documentaries I'm having my sons watch to supplement their history curriculum (which by the way is a very good curriculum). I've striked-through those we've already watched so far with more from our library basket to watch.

The Crucible

John Adams (Ken Burns)

Drums Along the Mohawk

April Morning

Johnny Tremain

The Patriot


The Crossing

Liberty! The American Revolution

Thomas Jefferson (Ken Burns)

Lewis and Clark (Ken Burns)


Fort Apache

Trail of Tears - A Native American Documentary

The Sante Fe Trail


Dances with Wolves


Gods and Generals

Three Sovereigns for Sara

We Were Soldiers

Apollo 13

Black Hawk Down



Shoulder Arms

Dr. Strangelove

Air Force

The Grapes of Wrath

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

All the Kings Men

Sergeant York

The Long Walk Home

Band of Brothers

The Pacific

Saving Private Ryan


Hiroshima (2005)

Zero Dark Thirty

The Great Raid

13 Days

All the President's Men

The Civil War (Ken Burns)

The Help

The Right Stuff

Rebels and Redcoats - Why the British Lost the American Revolution

Honestly, I'm not sure my list is complete. I am still finding other movies I can add to the list. The boys look at these movies, even the documentaries, as easy schoolwork and they take to them easily. We'll get as many movies in as possible over Christmas break and then squeeze them in once a week or so when we need a break from the drudgery that is sometimes school.