Life can be crazy and so very full. Focusing on what is making life more lovely is a great habit! Here is what is making our lives easier, tastier, prettier, and funner.
I don’t know about you, but my mind is still spinning a little from this past week. There is a lot to process; empathy and understanding and wisdom to pray for. And probably a lot more of being slow to speak, slow to anger, and quick to hear.
I shared five things we can do now that the election is over last Tuesday (before the results were posted). I published it early because it really wasn’t about who won, but how we should respond regardless.
This post isn’t about the election, though. It’s less angst, more scarves and shoes. Less stress, more board games and easy meals. Less politics, more…well, you get the picture.
I really enjoy writing these What I’m Loving posts because it makes me slow down and assess what is going well. Gratitude and awareness are great habits to practice, and I sincerely hope you find these posts enjoyable and helpful. I’d love it if you let me know what is making your life easier, tastier, prettier, and funner in the comments too!
What I’m Loving :: Edition 7
I love summer sunshine and the long days, but if I had to choose, Fall always wins as my favorite season. By the end of summer, I am soooo ready to be able to pull on some jeans without suffocating from the heat. I get giddy about needing cardigans and am more than happy to trade my sandals for warmer shoes.
It took me a week because my baby naps in our bedroom during the day, but I finally finished sorting and rotating through Fall clothes. I’m still trying to loose a little weight so I can fit into a lot of my Fall clothes (by trying, I mean eating less cookies and I bought some weights).
I like to think I want a capsule wardrobe, but then I have way too many cardigans alone to qualify. Really, though, until I’m back to a (new) normal weight, I am not going to stress over paring down my wardrobe. In the meantime, I have found this post to be really inspiring in putting together simple outfits this season.
5 Things I’m Currently Wearing Way Too Much (aka my fall & winter uniform)
- Gray Mom Life Hoodie– t-shirt weight, cute, and comfortable, this hoodie from Ezra & Eli is a favorite
- Gray Toms– after an enthusiastic recommendation from my best friend, I finally gave in and bought my first pair of Toms. I went with gray, because that’s just me.
- Infinity scarves– I have learned that I hate the winter a LOT less if I’m warm, and infinity scarves are a simple way to stay warm. I love this blanket scarf, but I am most often wearing basic infinity scarves I made myself in ten minutes because they’re so soft and go with everything.
- Leggings and house slippers– Both of these are my around-the-house staples. If I am just hanging out at home, you can be assured I’m in leggings, a t-shirt, and wearing slippers on my feet. Chances are good I’ll be sitting in front of the fire too.
I have been loving a few new podcasts, as well as a few I’ve faithfully listened to for a while now. Podcasts are my friends for so many reasons. I use the podcast app Podbean (though my husband uses Podcast Addict and loves it) to subscribe to all my podcasts. I love how easy it is to listen to episodes, old or new, from the app on our bluetooth speaker. There are serious podcasts, lighthearted ones, short ones, long ones, red fish, blue fish, and so on. Basically, whatever the amount of time I have or whatever the mood I’m in, there’s a podcast for that.
Here are a few new favorites:
- At Home Podcast :: a panel of women share on topics from food culture to yoga pants to feminism to peaceful marriages. I LOVE how these women share their hearts on each topic from a thoroughly biblical worldview. The episodes are funny, inspiring, and challenging. Each one is about 45 minutes.
- The Upside Down Podcast :: this one is a new one– they just shared their fifth episode this week. It’s another panel of women talking about topics related to “upside down kingdom living”. The women have unique circumstances, backgrounds, and perspectives, but each is committed to pursuing lives that honor God. What I appreciate about this podcast is how much it makes me think about different issues and ideas. Two weeks later and I’m still chewing on what being “blessed” means. These episodes run about an hour long.
- Risen Motherhood :: I have only listened to a few episodes from this podcast, but I have followed one of the hosts on Instagram for a while. The very first episode I listened to was exactly the right thing I needed to hear at the time. These two ladies are so faithful to get to the heart and they are not timid about addressing sin in order that we can apply the gospel to all areas of our motherhood. Most of their episodes are roughly 20 minutes.
I wholeheartedly recommend listening to these podcasts I mentioned above. Just be prepared to think, to be encouraged, and likely need to listen again to make sure you get all the goodness from them that you can.
More podcasts I’m subscribed to: Read-Aloud Revival, The Simple Show, A Delectable Education, Ask Pastor John, Mortification of Spin, Your Morning Basket, At Home with Sally, God-Centered Mom, The Briefing.
For the Kids
No Stress Chess
My oldest son (6yo) is obsessed with playing chess right now. We bought him this set a few weeks ago because it’s simple and geared towards teaching younger ages. The board is two sided– one with labels so you know exactly where to put the pieces and the other normal black and white squares. The set also comes with a deck of cards so when you’re just starting, both players can simply draw a card and be told how to move their pieces. Easy.
Since the set arrived in the mail, we have played approximately ten thousand games with him (give or take a few).
I’m currently shopping for a book on chess strategy so I can stop losing.
These trays are a MUST. We use them everyday at home with pattern blocks, counting bears, modeling clay, and whatever else the kids want to carry around. We also bring them with us for school at the park and on our co-op mornings. They come four to a set, are really durable, and are the perfect sizes to use and pack. A friend even mentioned how good they would be for serving kids snacks and food on the go, and I thought that was a great idea too! I wholeheartedly recommend them.
In Our Home
About a month ago, we decided to take a break from watching videos– the kids during the afternoon and the parents after bedtime. I packed up our television (thankfully the box was still downstairs, styrofoam and all) and put it downstairs out of sight.
In the past, I have made mini-resolutions to watch less or to refrain from resorting to extra videos when the kids are driving me and each other crazy. But self-discipline is not a personal strength, and I always ended up caving in long before we experienced any of the benefits from a break.
But when the tv is actually packed up and you decorate its former spot in the living room, well, the choice becomes a whole lot easier.
(scented pinecones and old window frames in the place of our tv)
This may actually be my favorite thing on this list right now. I LOVE not having a television. Our kids might have asked for a video on that first day, but I causally motioned to the spot it used to be and told them we were taking a tv break. And they have not asked for a video more than a handful of times collectively this entire month.
I can’t say when (or if) we will put the tv back. I imagine we will at some point. For now, though, we are all finding other things to do. I am working on addressing my afternoon fatigue (surliness) in other ways, the kids are happy to find other things to do, and my husband and I are either going to bed earlier or reading together or otherwise using the evening in other ways (which, honestly sometimes still includes staring at our phones, but, progress).
I’m also loving our mantle right now, and this super simple method for displaying our kids’ photos.
On the Table ::
Lodge Cast Iron Pans
This is actually what my husband is loving right now, but I think he’s loving them enough to warrant a mention. He is so happy with these pans that anyone who comes over gets an earful about how great these pans are (consider yourselves warned).
Basically, Lodge makes incredible cast iron pans that cook delicious food and clean up SO EASILY for an incredible price. We ordered a couple from Amazon, but I saw a display at Target a few weeks ago too.
If you use cast iron pans, Lodge or otherwise, this stainless steel scrubber is awesome for getting pans clean. We just add a little bit of water to a hot pan and use whatever spatula is already dirty to push it around in the pan. Rinse and wipe dry.
Steel cut oats in the Instant Pot
I’ve made no secret of loving my Instant Pot in recent posts and on Facebook. Anyone who has one will tell you what versatile and useful appliance it is– well worth the money!
At least three or four times a week, we are using the IP to make steel cut oats for a quick and easy breakfast. It’s as simple as adding 1 cup of steel cut oats to the pot, pouring in 3 cups of water, and turning it on manual high pressure for 3 minutes. Best part? No babysitting. Turn it on and walk away to do whatever else you need to do.
After it cooks on high for 3 minutes, we will either quick release pressure or let it naturally release– depending on how busy the morning is.
We plan on making steel cut oats so often over the next few months that we ordered a 25 pound bag to save a little money.
More tasty food on our plates recently ::
- Almond & parmesan crusted chicken, cauliflower au gratin, & sautéed garlicky greens :: We made these dishes when a friend came to dinner the other night, and YUM!
- Crockpot holiday punch :: this simple punch has come in handy for tasty warm drink for a few gatherings this month. Just dump ingredients in the crockpot and warm! \
- Three cheese and spinach breadsticks :: We love these already, but when I added a little leftover salami to the mix the other day, they were elevated to the next level. These breadsticks are great for lunches.
What We’re Reading ::
Homeschool read-aloud: Anne of Green Gables, L. M. Montgomery
Audiobook: We recently listened to the Book of Dragons, Children of Noisy Village, and White Fang again. Having used our Audible credit on them, we can listen to them again whenever we want. Before that we listened to The BFG (loved it), and now we are listening to the next Henry Huggins book.
Husband and wife read-aloud: (we are trying to find time for this in the evenings a couple times a week) Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome, Kent and Barbara Hughes
What is making your life easier, tastier, prettier, or funner?
Like lists of easy, tasty, pretty, and fun things? Check out these other What I’m Loving posts: