Sharpening the Axe

Sharpen the Axe“If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I would spend four hours sharpening the axe” Abraham Lincoln never said these words, but they’re great words to live by.

Another step completed! The Fill the Freezer project is my tree, and this whole phase of planning every detail before we board the plane is my four hours of axe sharpening. My assistants and I took a few minutes to assign each of them their prep work per day. I thought it was going to take longer to discuss and I expected that there would be a lot more work per person per day. I was surprised when we got to the end and I was thinking, that’s it? That’s everything?

All of the mind-numbing planning that I’ve done up to this point cleared the way and this was the smoothest job yet. There is still a lot of work for each of us. We’ll be working for two solid weeks without any days off, but hard work that runs smoothly is somehow more enjoyable. It’s what allows you to whistle while you work!

This axe is getting so sharp it’s almost gleaming!

Posted in A Full, Homeschooling, Just a Thought..., Kids & Parenting, Organization | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Call Me Streamline!

Another goal met! It’s a small one, but one I don’t typically find easy to do because it throws me off my groove. Because I didn’t want to co-mingle the fundraiser money with our personal finances, I opened a new account just for Fill the Freezer. As small a step as that is, it’s still exciting to me. I actually took the time to do it! That’s a bigger victory than most people realize.

How Time appears to me: distant and in a blur

How Time appears to me: distant and in a blur

Anyone who knows me even a little knows that I have no comprehension of Time. I have no idea exactly what or who Time is. It’s a total mystery to me. Other than that, I’m just like any normal human worm baby.

Specific weaknesses that could bushwhack this project? One, I don’t know how to delegate. Two, I can’t multitask under pressure. Solution? My Master Skills at Streamlining, Organizing, and Making Lists! I discovered this superpower while battling the everyday trials of raising the most awesome kids in the world.

I’ve already shared with you my discovery that I am a project girl. My superpowered experience taught me that the secret to any major project is streamlining. There are a couple definitions for streamlining, and they both fit how I go about my life.

1. To make something more efficient, especially by simplifying or modernizing it.
2. To design or build something with a smooth shape so that it moves with minimum resistance.

How Time appears to me when someone asks me when something is going to occur: STICKS & MATH!

How Time appears to me when someone asks me when something is going to occur: STICKS & MATH!

In my world, Time is the enemy of simplification and minimum resistance. It’s like this; I’m minding my own business, throwing things together, creating delicious, nutritious magic. Then someone comes along and asks how long until dinner. The answer could be five minutes or an hour; there’s no way to tell. Suddenly everything I’m doing to present this fine 7-course meal is thrown into a tizzy and they don’t know whether to comfort me, back away slowly, or call an ambulance. See what I mean? Everything is fine until you add Time to the equation.

What it takes to bring about streamlining of a large project is a bumpy road because it’s all about tricking Time into not sabotaging your big event. I thought organizing and tallying all of the recipe ingredients was tough, but the job that is taking the most brain power is the daily planning.

How Time appears when planning a project

How Time appears when planning a project

In order to simplify this segment, I’m first plotting out each day’s prepping and cooking. The plan is to complete the prep for each recipe at least one day before it’s scheduled to be done. I’m hoping this preparation will overcome my lack of ability to delegate.

By having my assistants do the prep work before the day I complete the recipe, I can get to cooking first thing in the morning when I have the most energy. (No, Mom and Dad, I won’t be clattering around in the kitchen at 4:30 in the morning. I’ll wait until 5!) I’ll get my stuff done and the kids can begin their prep work for the next day’s recipes. At least, that’s the plan.

Which brings me to… I’m not a great multi-tasker. I mean, I can plan and organize like a fiend, but when I get into the middle of actually doing a big event like my daughter’s Sweet 16 party or our weeklong family reunion, my mind fractures and can’t seem to keep track of anything. That’s when my lists are key. If it’s not written down, I can’t delegate it and I suddenly lose all comprehension of when it’s supposed to get done. The confusion reaches epic proportions, affecting the space time continuum and distorting all reason and reality. I’m not lying. I’ve looked into the vortex and it is frightening.

How Time appears to me when in a project: The Attack Of Time!

How Time appears to me when in a project: The Attack Of Time!

Once I’m in the middle of things having to happen, there is no blur, there is no math, there is no Time for planning. There is simply, The Attack Of Time.
My name is Steamline, and Time is my kryptonite.

Posted in A Full, Frugal & Beautiful Life, Creative Writing, Homeschooling, Just a Thought..., Organization, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Fill the Freezer Checklist is Shrinking!

Do we ever get tired of hearing about our team’s every win or triumph? Nope! Well, I’m going to pretend that my little triumphs are as inspiring as a team win. It sure feels that way to me!

Achievement Unlocked!

Achievement Unlocked!

As I’m working on the different steps for the Fill the Freezer project, I realize that I’m doing this as I do most things; everything is intertwined and overlapping. It’s working for me so I’m not going to fight it. It takes a little longer to mark something off the list because it’s not linear, but no single job is looming over me, so that’s nice.

That being said, I got to mark off one more step in the process! In the the Excel spreadsheet I’ve designed, each recipe has its section, and within each section is recorded that recipe’s ingredients in one of five columns: produce, canned goods, refrigerator/freezer, etc. You can imagine that with twenty recipes that is a lot of recording.

The steps that overlapped this one were writing down a bunch of those recipes (I thought I had a lot more of them in the computer, but they were still in my head,) and having to tally all of the meat amounts for my mom because she’s stocking up in preparation for our cook-a-thon. On another page of the same spreadsheet I will tally all of those ingredient amounts so we have a total for each–much as you would for your own weekly grocery list…but for 200+ servings, rather than twenty or so.

Well, I finally finished recording the ingredient amounts for each recipe onto the spreadsheet. I still have to tally all of them, and I still have a few recipes to record before I can move on to the next step of planning exactly how I’m going to undertake all of these meals. I’ve done lots of bulk and freezer cooking, but I’ve never tackled anything this big before. I am loving this process!

Have you been able to check something off of your list lately? Celebrate it, no matter how big or small!

Achievement Award


Posted in A Full, Organization | Tagged , | 2 Comments

One Smug Multi-tasker, Coming Right Up!

I’m still alive! I’m still moving forward. Sometimes it’s just about reaching the destination, and other times it’s about the experiences along the way. That’s the difference between a trip and a journey. I tend to turn everything into a journey. I think it’s because I have no concept of time so every moment is wonderfully filled to running over.

What time looks like to me

What time looks like to me

This week I’ve been practicing multitasking; something I’m not good at. I mean, I’m a homeschooling mom and I’ve had my own businesses and I entertain a lot. You’d think I’d be a master at multitasking, right? Nope. I’m great at projects, and I can have a few running at the same time, but not consistently day in and day out. However, the last couple weeks I’ve been quite smug, actually.

My current projects are Fill the Freezer planning, developing the recipes for FtF and the cookbook, designing and testing a new Excel budget spreadsheet, planting the container garden, having my niece and nephew over for a few days, and a new one that was suddenly plopped into my lap.

pea on a plate

My husband’s new diet. Bon Appetit, Honey!

Here’s how I got a new project without any warning, when I’m trying to shove things off my plate, not take more on. My husband took a day off work to go to the doctor. (He has to go to the VA an hour and a half away, and being the VA, it’s an all day event.) We were concerned he might have appendicitis. He doesn’t, and it looks like we can handle the problem with some drastic diet changes for the next couple months, then a less drastic healthy diet from that point on. So, guess who was Googling like crazy for yet another special person with a special diet. I think I’m seeing a trend here. I don’t believe in coincidences. All of this diet planning is somehow important for my future.

I mentioned I was smug, didn’t I? Well, here’s why. This girl here, this inconsistent, non-multi-tasking, time-handicapped dreamer is still consistently moving forward on all fronts and took the new diet project in stride! I’m writing recipes and tallying ingredients, planning details of the trip, completely redesigning the budget and putting the Excel spreadsheet to use(!) caring for and feeding my sister’s munchkins just for the fun of it, and successfully changing my husband’s diet immediately. The garden even got planted and is out on the deck! (I didn’t do that. My awesome 18 year old son took it on himself because he knew I couldn’t get to it.)



Woo Hoo! I’m not stopping ’til something gets done or I fall over!

Posted in A Full, Cookbook, Organization | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lesson Learned… Again

Just yesterday I was saying that I would share my learning journey with you. Here I am, already keeping that promise.

Yesterday afternoon I learned the importance Continue reading

Posted in A Full, Creative Writing, Frugal & Beautiful Life, Just a Thought..., Organization | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

I’ve Got A Golden Ticket!

I’ll be fifty in just a couple years and I’m finally writing my first book. Writing was always my dream, but I never thought that dream could be my reality until just a few years ago. This blog is one of the ways I started expressing that. I’m glad that as my children are becoming adults and moving out, I’m starting a new adventure.

Today, just a few minutes ago, I took the second big step in making Fill the Freezer happen.  I bought the airline tickets! I am so excited! The last three weeks of August will be full of shopping, cooking, and freezing at my parents’ home in Arizona. And of course, the occasional visit and cup of tea. Eek! I can’t wait!

I’ve been talking a lot these days about my Fill the Freezer and Freestyle Cooking Cookbook projects. I’m getting more and more excited every day. Fill the Freezer has a specific timeline which is pushing me to get the recipes written, tested, and perfected. I love it because in the end, my parents will have a freezer full of prepared meals–hopefully three-months’ worth–and I’ll have lots of photos and recipes completed for the cookbook.

I’ll post as I take this wonderful journey, sharing what I learn along the way. I’ve heard that the best way to stay young is to never stop learning, and keep your sense of humor. I fully embrace both!
Proverbs 31 Lady

How are you learning and laughing today? I’d love to hear!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Adventures in Venturing

This new venture of writing my first cookbook has already proven to be exciting and fun. Opportunity in Every ObstacleAs with everything I do, this process is teaching me and stretching me. It’s also causing me to expand my dream and look higher.

One of the first things I learned about writing the cookbook Continue reading

Posted in Cookbook, Just a Thought..., Organization | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Fill the Freezer! Project

I am taking my strengths, my passion, my love language, and my decades of experience and applying it all to a major project. I am going to my parents’ home in Arizona where I will spend three weeks cooking three months’ worth of meals to fill their freezer. That’s a dinner a day for ninety days plus some extras for lunches, snacks, and special gluten free treats.

Mom and Dad with their grandkids at our family reunion a few years ago

Mom and Dad with their grandkids at our family reunion a few years ago

My mom is in her seventies and is struggling keeping up with my dad’s and her own special dietary needs. They have a lot of restrictions and requirements that would make it difficult for any of us to keep up, but she is just worn out and wrung out.

For a couple years now I’ve told Mom that I would cook up a storm and fill their freezer if I just had the money to get there and buy a few months’ worth of groceries for them. I meant it and was frustrated that I couldn’t see a way to make it happen. Until now…

A month ago I started a fundraiser on Indiegogo Life. I’m excited because we’ve raised 27% of what we need to make this project happen! I was trying to figure out how to get this idea in front of more people, and thought, why in the world have I not posted this on my blog yet? So here I am. Posting it on my blog.

I would love for tons of people to follow the link, read the full story, and help in any way they choose. Here are a few ways that you can help: give financially to this project; comment about how Mom and Dad have touched you life if you know them; share this link on your blog; and pray for all of the phases of this project.

Here’s the link to the Fill the Freezer! project, and below is the link to share on your own blog or social media of your choice!–2/x/10439711

Thank you!

P.S. This experience and these recipes will be building blocks for that cookbook I’m working on. That’s right! I’m still working on it!


Posted in A Full, Frugal & Beautiful Life, Cookbook, Homeschooling, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


Here I go. This latest round of crises is about over, and I wouldn’t want to be caught with nothing to conquer, so I’m taking the dive. I’m really doing this. I’m done with looking at some future date to begin in earnest and I have arrived at the Now is the Time part of this venture. I am committed to publishing my cookbook. It will start out as separate eBooks, but it will also be published in hard copy. Being partly instructional, partly a planner, and partly inspirational, it lends itself to the kind of book you can hold in your hands and take to the kitchen or curl up with as you plan for the holidays or a barbecue, or to read a short, encouraging entry. Continue reading

Posted in A Full, Frugal & Beautiful Life, Cookbook, Food, Freestyle Cooking Class, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Back for More

I haven’t been here in quite a while, and I’ve missed you. There were a couple things that I needed to work on and other (more fun) things had to be set aside for a while. Now it’s time to wake up this sleepy little blog.

I plan on waking us up with a little extro-sprection. That’s my new word for expressing the findings of introspection. I could just say “expression,” but that would be boring.

It would be oversimplifying to say that God has been showing me or teaching me things over the years, because the truth is it’s been far more painful and much deeper than being shown or taught something. It can best be described as carving out the real me, the me that God could see.

In carving as in sculpting, the artist sees something in the material, then removes the excess from around the form he sees. It’s painful to be the block of wood. Some of those tools cut deep. You have to give up bits and pieces that formed who you were, to become the work of art that the artist knows you are. And what care God gives his works of art; no hacking and chopping, rather a mindful, deliberate accuracy.

Through that long and raw process I have gained a steadier foundation, and it is this: God is more. God is more than my problems. God is more than my best experiences. God is more than anything Hell throws at me. God is more than any lesson I learn. God is more than the ugliness I see in myself. God is more than my strengths. God is more than the absence of sin. God is more than the Bible can contain. God is more than his people let him be.

It took a while for that understanding to fully permeate my faith, but when it did, I began to see that beyond God being so much more than I can think or see or breathe in, he wants me to take part in that more.

by David Calvo of Calvo Studios       

He gives me creative license in this me that he is forming, and in the future he is setting me toward. He wants each of us to see that salvation from sin is only the tip of the ice berg. We are so one dimensional when we think of God. We tend to see in black and white. We, the Christians of today, want God to be black and white so we can define Him, but He isn’t black and white. I can hear the ragged old argument, “What?! Of course he’s black and white! There is no gray area where God is concerned!” No, I’m sorry. He’s not black and white. He is every color of the rainbow and beyond. He is more.

This reality saturates everything in me. My thoughts are different. Fears are steadily fading, faith steadily growing. Worry has almost become a distant memory. It’s great to breathe the air of freedom! If you follow this blog you may have heard this in the undercurrents of what I’ve shared in the past. In the past months while I was gone I got a definite feeling that I’m going to start stepping out more boldly. I’m interested to see where this will take us.

God is taking us all to more. He wants always more and more for us, because he is more. Where are you in this journey? How has The Great Carpenter carved away old beliefs or parts of yourself; how has he shown you that he is more?

Posted in Just a Thought..., Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments