These daily routines are so important to help keep the house manageable.
And when I started following the FlyLady 10-15 years ago, I learned how important cleaning zones in our homes can be too for those "deep-cleaning" tasks.
The basic concept is for you to divide your home into various zones.
I used to try and make sure I was getting through every single zone every single month.
However, starting this next week, I think I'll put my house on an eight-week zone rotation.
Today, and for the rest of this week, I'll be focusing on deep-cleaning the front porch, the living room, and our deck.
I make a list of tasks to get these three areas "all spiffied up" and I work on that list for 15-30 minutes a day (depending on each night's activities).
So...your task for today is to divide your home into zones.
You can decide how many.
You can decide what types of tasks to put on your zone lists.
The important part is to start to develop some habits for deep-cleaning a little at a time, instead of just constantly being stuck in the cycle of having a BIG cleaning day every few weeks.
Working my zones at the farmhouse this morning!
Using the insight I gleaned from these authors, I have set up a 12-week challenge to set goals for the first twelve weeks of 2019, to keep myself accountable, and to check my progress throughout the next three months.
After setting up my goals and weekly challenges, I thought to myself that maybe you all would want to join me!
Excited for the new year here at the farmhouse,
I got here after 10:00 p.m. Monday night.
I got checked in and headed up to my room.
I unpacked for the week and snuggled into my warm, comfy hotel bed to call Mr. Farmhouse and let him know that I arrived safely.
I'm spending my week in a hotel as I attend a conference that will teach me all about the responsibilities that come with my new job.
Tuesday, I was up early and ready to take on the day. After a day full of meetings, I made it back to my room about 4:00 and worked hard on finishing some items on my school to-do list. I met some friends at 6:00 for supper and came back to the room to do some reading, call and visit with the girls, and hit the sack.
This morning, I opened the hotel dresser drawer to get my clothes out and that's when it hit me...hotel life is amazing.
When I was packing to come over here Monday, I packed only what I would need.
I was intentional about what I put into the bag, as I knew I wouldn't want to carry anything extra with me.
I have one outfit for each day, my school bag, my electronics chargers, and the two books I am reading.
And so, as I was getting ready this morning and packing up my bag to take downstairs to the conference, I thought to myself...wouldn't it be wonderful to live like this every day?
Why can't we be intentional with what we have in our home?
Why can't we only keep what we need?
You may recall our KonMari journey that I blogged about when we were still living in the old house.
It was a journey where we looked at all of our belongings and asked ourselves, "Does this spark joy?" If the answer was no...out it went.
Since then, we've moved and we've accumulated more belongings.
I think it's time to go on that journey again.
I would love to walk into the house every single evening and think to myself, "Living the hotel life is really grand."
Happy Wednesday from the 9th floor, friends.
Make it a good one.
When we moved into the farmhouse, the upstairs consisted of one bedroom and an open loft area.
The whole upstairs is in a plus-sign shape, so there was the potential for three smaller "rooms".
We needed one more bedroom to give the girls each their own rooms, so we will finally build a wall in the next few weeks to give Harlee some privacy. We also added a bathroom, so the girls could have their own bathroom up there.
The leftover loft space became our farmhouse playroom.
And now....the moment you've all been waiting for...the Room Reveal for our Farmhouse Playroom.
To be quite honest, this room has already evolved a bit since we moved in last July.
We had originally planned to have the Barbies and doll clothes housed upstairs, but with the older two girls having bedrooms up there and our three-year-old downstairs, that setup just didn't make sense anymore.
So we moved the Barbie house downstairs to Mattie's bedroom and made the playroom a little more functional for the preteens.
For nine years at the old house, we tried to carve out a place for the girls to relax that was "their own".
First, we had a nursery in one bedroom and a playroom in the other.
When we brought Baby #2 home, the playroom got changed into a "big girl bedroom" for Baby #1 and the toys stayed in there.
We put the girls together eventually and moved the playroom to where the nursery had originally been.
When Baby #3 came home, the playroom became a nursery/playroom combo.
Before we moved out here to the farmhouse, we even tried to put all three girls in one room to sleep and have the toys and desks in the other.
It just never worked out quite like we had pictured.
The farmhouse playroom is all I had ever hoped for.
It sits opposite the new bathroom, with the older girls' bedrooms on either side.
When Harlee's wall is complete and the new bathroom has a door, I will do a walk-through of the whole upstairs.
Can't wait to share it with you SOON!
Happy Sunny Saturday from the Farmhouse, friends!
When I read the book It Starts with Food by Dallas & Melissa Hartwig, over a year ago, I learned about the importance of a "reset" for our bodies.
That's what the Whole30 is all about....resetting your body back to a “whole” diet with all real, clean foods and nothing processed.
After my first two rounds of the Whole30, I gradually fell back into my old eating habits and in turn welcomed back the joint pain, constant exhaustion, and digestive issues that come with eating “Frankenfoods”, as Melissa Hartwig calls them.
About nine months ago, I read Melissa’s second book, Food Freedom Forever.
It was with this book that I really started to understand the process of resetting, occasionally enjoying foods that are “worth” going off plan, and then quickly resetting again.
So you spend most of your time in this "reset" period of eating the foods that are very best for your body.
It was such a novel idea to me after spending years trying to "get healthy" and "lose weight" and "get in shape".
Research shows that calorie-restriction (or the complete restriction of specific foods) does not promote a sustainable lifestyle.
It makes so much more sense to live in a place of "reset" with an occasional jump off-track here and there.
And then this week, as I was trying to stay caught up with classroom planning, home responsibilities, and three little farm girls, it hit me...I should be living most of my life in a place of "reset".
I think we've been getting it wrong all these years.
Instead of mirroring that "reset" lifestyle, where we focus on the basic principles of sustenance, we overindulge in every way, every day.
And I'm not just talking about food.
I'm talking about the over-connectedness we have by being in constant communication with those around us by texting and social media accounts.
I'm talking about saying "yes" to every single request to volunteer or spend time on various projects outside of the home.
...about having so many belongings in our homes that we are slaves to them...spending every extra minute in life cleaning and maintaining them.
...about eating out three or four times a week because everyone won't be home all at the same time or early enough to eat supper at the table.
...about being so involved in every extracurricular activity offered to your family that you don't have time to just be home with those you love or to spend time with your church family.
Sidenote: Check out our minister's blog post from today...crazy timing, considering most of this post was already written!
I think the struggle is that these things I just mentioned above are THE NORM.
In the average American family, times of "reset" seem to be few and far between...only happening on a rare weekend when there is nothing else going on.
The problem with this is that we NEED more "reset" than that.
A healthy physical, mental, and spiritual life is promoted when the "reset" becomes the regular.
When we spend time sitting at home, instead of rushing from 'Point A' to 'Point B'.
When we purge unloved and unneeded items, instead of letting them control our homes where we must organize them and clean around them constantly.
When we have the freedom to say "no" to activities and even volunteer opportunities because we know that it would not put us in a healthy state of mind.
When we have time to plan a healthy weekly menu and make food (or enjoy Mr. Farmhouse making the food) for our family each night instead of taking advantage of the drive-through whenever it's available.
In order to make this work, we have to be intentional.
It will take carefully calculated decisions each and every day to find that "reset" life.
However, I'm looking forward to taking these next six months to really hone in on what are the most important parts of our life at the farmhouse and starting to weed away everything else.
I need a reset.
How about you?
The "heart of the home".
Often the central location of what's going on in our house, our kitchen can quickly turn into the catch all.
In the old house, we had a peninsula that we had built-in to house the dishwasher we added a few years after we moved in.
Besides meal prep and clean-up messes, you would often find lunch boxes thrown down after school, bills dropped on the counter, and various other items that would find their way to the flat surfaces of the kitchen.
This peninsula quickly became a hot spot for everything that was in our arms when we walked through the door.
It was a huge, flat space and it naturally seemed to attract clutter.
When we bought the farmhouse, I really wanted to try and avoid having a hot spot area like this.
The dining room table definitely has the potential to become this "hot spot", but by keeping seasonal decorations on there, the problem has been fairly minimal. Surprisingly.
And by being intentional with our kitchen counter spaces, we've avoided a lot of that "hot spot clutter".
The yellow cabinet holds a few cookbooks and my Ninja blender that I use most every day.
It also houses the plates and bowls we use most often. I moved them down there so they were more accessible for the girls.
We have onions and potatoes on the bottom shelf (and sitting over to the side if they won't fit inside!)
Bread and veggies go on top!
Sidenote: Glittery hand sanitizing gel in the hands of a toddler WILL take the paint off of the top of a Target clearance cabinet like this one. Or so we've heard.
Originally, the farmhouse kitchen was an eat-in kitchen.
It had a small space for a table where the sink is now and the stove and sink were on the whole other side of the room.
The refrigerator was where the coffee bar is now and there was a little peninsula jutting out into the room where our refrigerator sits.
The kitchen also had a tile floor that had been added right over the beautiful hardwood floors that the previous owner refinished.
One of my favorite things to do early in the morning before the sun comes up is to get my coffee and my Bible and go sit in the living room to talk to Jesus.
I don't turn any lights on in the kitchen, but just enjoy the ambiance of the white lights and all the various items that have been placed on top of the cabinets for a specific reason.
If you look closely, you can see silhouette cut-out of the girls' profiles,
a clay bowl that says "Hemple, Missouri" on it that reminds me of a very special family,
a navy blue spool that I purchased the very first time I went antiquing with my mother-in-law,
a "Welcome to the Farmhouse" sign that my mom bought me the very first week we lived here,
a can that has a poppy on it that I bought on a trip to Oklahoma with my mom & sisters-in-law,
and many other small sentimental items that bring joy to my heart.
I really love Amazon.
We have had a Prime account for several years and use it for everything from coffee to toilet paper, books to home decor, music to movies.
Some day, I will talk to you about the joys of Amazon's "Subscribe & Save" program and my new-found love for Audible.
Some day, I will talk to you about how amazing the Amazon app is and the fact that I have a dream to sell a children's book I wrote on Amazon someday.
Amazon has a host of items that fit my taste...and my budget.
As you've probably seen in some of my other posts, I love signs and wall-hangings to fill the walls of the farmhouse.
Amazon has a nice selection of high-quality signs.
I have tried to be very intentional with the items I bring into the farmhouse, since we moved in last July.
One of the things I try to think about when I purchase items is the functional purpose that they could serve in our home.
These containers are perfect for organizing AND looking adorable.
A nice warm throw is always a good item to have lying over a chair, reading available for snuggling up with a good book. I also love the natural pop of color that this wreath brings.
Seek out items that bring joy to your heart and make your home feel peace and calming to you.
Be responsible in your spending and intentional in what you allow into your home.
And enjoy the process!
Happy Friday from the Farmhouse, friends!
January 9th marked our six-month anniversary of our "first night sleeping at the farmhouse".
In some ways, it feels like that was ages ago...and in some ways, it feels like yesterday.
Over the snow days (and ice day and really cold wind-chill day) that we had off of school last week, I really reminisced about our time here at the farmhouse so far.
I started looking through some of my old blog posts and Instagram photos.
One of my most favorite memories for the rest of my life will be from 9:00 at night on the first Saturday night that we slept here.
Our minister and his wife came out and prayed over the farmhouse. You can read about it in my blog post from that day...Bless this Mess.
Since that warm July night,
we have enjoyed family movie nights cuddled in the living room,
mornings on the front porch reading our books,
pick-up games of basketball out to the north of the house,
friends over to BBQ,
softball practice out in the yard,
and for Thanksgiving we hosted our first TWO family dinners out here.
We experienced our first farmhouse Christmas with the girls.
We have painted and decorated,
Added an upstairs bathroom,
Tore down a barn,
Added a chicken coop,
It has been quite the journey and I know we are nowhere near "finished".
Growing up, I collected keychains.
I would grab a keychain on any family trip we took or even something that seemed interesting to me on a shopping trip.
Family members even started buying me keychains and bringing them home for me when they traveled.
For several years, I looked through the keychains and remembered some fun times with family.
And then one day, I stopped.
They just weren't that enjoyable anymore and they ended up in a big metal coffee can, where they lived until I eventually threw them all away when we moved to the home my parents live in now.
At that point in life, the keychain collection just didn't MEAN anything to me.
In the end of my high school years, Willow Tree angels were just coming out and I loved them.
Do you know the ones I'm talking about?
Beautiful, creamy-colored angels that were were replicas of Susan Lordi's hand-carved angels.
My parents started getting me an angel for big life events...my 16th birthday, high school graduation, holidays.
And I loved them.
Each angel represented a time in life that was important and special to me.
At first, I housed these angels altogether on top of my piano.
Until there were too many.
Then I split them up and put half on the piano and half in my Great-Great-Grandma Hannah's antique secretary that sits in our home.
They were fine there, but I just felt like nobody ever really saw them.
It felt like they were kind of thrown out there much like the keychain collection of yesteryear.
Like when people looked at my house, at my angels, it was hard to appreciate each angel for what it was...a representation of a very specific moment in life.
I had an angel from the day I became a teacher...the day I lost my grandpa...the day we found out we were expecting a baby.
I had an angel that represented my relationship with my parents, Mr. Farmhouse, and each of the girls.
These were reminders of monumental occasions and my most cherished relationships...and they were collecting dust instead, seemingly unloved and unappreciated.
Until I began to decorate using what I call "groupings".
I'm still waiting on five pictures from the photo lab for this grouping. Can you tell where they will go?
The two metal prints on the left and the larger framed print on the right are John Deere pictures.
John Deere runs deep into both sides of our family history.
Mr. Farmhouse and I have both lost our grandpas in the last eight years and they were both John Deere men.
I have a picture of each of them with their tractors getting printed to be hung on this wall, as well as pictures of the girls in their Key overalls.
(Sidenote: Having the DVDs on display like that just about makes me crazy. Still trying to find a way to hide them that won't cost a fortune.)
(top left, represents the stages of our life - marriage, pregnancy, baby, toddler, big girl)
(top right, in my office - my praying & praising angels, my "create" sign)
(bottom left, education - the two books on the left were Matthew's great-grandparents', my reading and teaching angels, and a primitive framed alphabet from my in-laws when I became a teacher)
(bottom right, give thanks...Matthew & I with the girls, displayed in the gathering room)
I love having all of my favorite things on display in the farmhouse.
All of our reminders of our favorite memories, our favorite people, and those big moments in life that have molded us into who we are now.
Decorating with groupings has helped to make this happen. ❤️🏡❤️
Last night, we finished our fourth night of Vacation Bible School 2017.
I am tired. We all are.
There's no tired like "VBS week" tired.
We used the Maker Fun Factory curriculum from Group Publishing.
We learned a Bible point each day.
1. God made me. I was built for a purpose.
This Bible point goes hand-in-hand with the current book I'm reading, Love Does, by Bob Goff.
In his book, Goff talks about the creative whimsy of Christ.
He talks about how God pursues us daily through things that happen, places we go, and people we meet.
God created each one of us with specific interests and unique talents to be Kingdom Workers.
He puts us in certain places with our unique talents and desires for a reason.
We just need to listen and act.
2. God is for me. If God is for us, who can be against us?
I am an overthinker.
So many times, I find myself worrying or stewing or just overthinking about certain situations.
The Bible tells us that there is no reason to worry or fret.
If God is for us, no enemy can come against us.
If we feel insecure, or afraid, or unqualified...we only need to remember that He is for us.
3. God is always with me. We are not alone.
Joshua 1:9 tells us that "God is with us wherever we go."
And He is.
Even in the depths of our despair and sorrow.
In the midst of anxiety and insecurities.
When we are feeling lost and alone.
He is with us.
He will carry us.
He will hold us.
God is always with us.
4. God made me for a reason. God has a plan for our lives.
Like I mentioned earlier, God's plan for my life is very specific to me. His plan for your life is specific to you.
He knows the number of hairs on my head.
And the number of hairs on Mr. Farmhouse's head.
And each of our three girls.
He keeps the earth spinning perfectly on its axis.
He controls so many things on this earth and in the galaxies beyond ours.
And yet, He is able and ready to work in our lives.
He is able and ready to give us opportunities to see His hands work like nothing we have ever seen.
God built us for a purpose.
He is for us. He is not against us.
God is always with us.
Sometimes, I feel like once we outgrow that childlike faith that the Bible talks about, we have a hard time remembering these simple truths.
Maybe it's time we take a step back from "adulting" and get back to the basics.
I once was lost, but now am found.
Count your blessings.
Trust and obey.
God is still God.
And He is ready to work.
All we have to do is let him.