Monday, August 25, 2014

New Chore Assignments

It has been over a year since I last posted our chore assignments. For the most part, they have remained the same, with a few small changes.

After a while, everyone is ready for new chores. Changing the chore assignments helps alleviate boredom and more importantly, it helps children progress in their knowledge of how to run a household. One of the main reasons we have chores is to help our children grow into capable adults who know how to take care of themselves.

We decided to start new chores today along with our new school year. I asked the children what chores they didn't want anymore and what chores they would prefer. Some of the answers for the chores that they wanted surprised me! They did a great job today in their new chores, too.

We've given more chores to our 6-year-old, who asked for three things rather enthusiastically, and then proceeded to do them rather well! I was very surprised and happy about that today.

Here are our children's current ages:

Winter: 12
Cyrus: 11
Ezrom: 9
Liberty: 7 (almost 8)
Wren: 6
Elsa: 4
Ivory: 2

Ivory has been rather helpful in picking up the toy cars and people, and the blocks, and those are usually her mess. Unlike her 6 older siblings when they were her age (and some still!) she will go pick up the cars right away when asked, and will do a thorough job. She seems to understand that everyone cleans up, and she loves to help; she tries to fold laundry, but is still working on getting a washcloth folded (she has done it a few times).

Winter is assigned to make breakfast. She is learning to make more things this way. I'll help in her this chore; sometimes she can simply dish up breakfast, but the main goal is to teach her to make a variety of things.

One thing we've changed is that instead of just vacuuming their rooms on Saturday, the children will now vacuum on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturdays.  This is just part of cleaning their rooms. Since all rooms are shared, they can trade off who gets to vacuum.

Our trash is collected twice a week. The job of taking out the trash includes taking the big cans to the curb on those days as well as bringing them back up; every day it includes emptying all but one of the trash cans in the house (the kitchen trash, three bathroom trash cans, and my desk trash; I empty the sewing room trash when it is needed).

Also, though it's not on here, Cyrus cuts the grass each week as part of his chores. Winter helps in lots of ways that aren't listed on here (she helps with Ivory a lot and all of her siblings love her a lot because she plays with them); they all help in lots of little ways each day as well (taking plates of food to the table or offering to help in other ways, etc.).

Here are the new chore assignments:

Before Breakfast:
Get dressed
Make bed
Straighten bedroom
Sort dirty laundry

Winter: Make breakfast
Cyrus: Take out trash
Ezrom: Put away Clean dishes
Liberty: Pick up living room
Wren: Set table
Elsa: Pour Drinks
Fold laundry
Put away laundry

After Breakfast:

Clear Spots
Brush teeth

Winter: wash dishes
Cyrus: Wipe table and chairs
Ezrom: Sweep the floor under the table
Liberty: Pick up girls' hall
Wren: Sweep and mop the kitchen
Elsa: Dust

Before Lunch:

Put away schoolbooks

Winter: Sweep wood floor by piano
Cyrus: Clean boys’ bathroom
Ezrom: Pour drinks and set table
Liberty: Pick up library
Wren: Clean girls’ bathroom
Elsa: Pick up living room
Ivory: Pick up library

After Lunch:


Clear Spots

Winter: Wash dishes
Cyrus: Sweep both halls
Ezrom: Wipe table and chairs
Liberty: Sweep and mop under table
Wren: Vacuum Living room
Elsa: Clean bedroom

Before Dinner:

Winter: Pick up and vacuum living room
Cyrus: Put away clean dishes
Ezrom: Wipe and set table
Liberty: Clean Patio
Wren: Clean up by front door
Elsa: Pour drinks
Ivory: Pick up library

Clean rooms
5 minutes cleaning in the library

After Dinner:

Clear Spots
Put on pajamas
Brush teeth

Winter: Sweep and mop kitchen floor
Cyrus: sweep and mop by piano
Ezrom: Wash dishes
Liberty: Sweep under table

Wren: Wipe table and chairs

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

This post is without pictures as I misplaced my battery charger for my camera. I found it this evening, so I'll have pictures on the next post!

I cut 3 Armenian cucumbers and brought them in.

I cut two large bunches of basil, rinsed them, and hung them to dry. I also gave a large bunch to someone else. It is growing quite well and is regrowing quickly. I would be happy to share some with any readers who want to come by!

I cut zinnias, roses, and basil flowers for an arrangement.

I cut fig branches for a vase on the entry table. These have a milky sap (like poppies) and like poppies, need to have the stems seared after cutting and before putting them in water.

I cut chives and rosemary from the garden.

My husband bought 4 LED lights for us to put in the living room ceiling fan. While these are an initially large expense per bulb, we hope that over time, they will help to save money. We are working on slowly changing out our light bulbs, starting with the ones that are used the most often. We rarely need to turn the lights on for more than an hour or two a day now (between 7:45 p.m. and 9:00 p.m., usually), but once it starts getting darker earlier, we'll be using the lights in the evenings. We have been waiting to change our bulbs from incandescent for some time, since the bulbs we had  from years ago were still working fine (as we rarely use them), because we didn't have the money for new bulbs, and because my husband installed dimmer switches in all of the ceiling fans that he installed in our house (there are 10)--and fluorescent bulbs don't dim (plus the fluorescent bulbs were too long and stuck out of the shades quite a bit). We are happy that there is now a small LED bulb that dims, which should be fantastic come winter when we need the lights on more often.

While I had no plans to go grocery shopping last week, a friend let me know a local store was closing out a whole bunch of unsalted butter (the only kind I buy) that would expire in two days. They had priced it all at .50 a pound! I bought 45 pounds to freeze. While I was there, I also bought 3 gallons of milk and the first head of lettuce I've bought all year (I'm looking forward to growing more in the garden when it is cool enough to plant again).

I also didn't plan to go to Target this week, but after a post I read about some shirts on sale, I decided to buy a few for Winter. We didn't end up liking the $5 shirts, but found 3 for her on clearance for $6.30 each. I also purchased a skirt for her to wear to church that she picked out.

While I was there, I bought two shirts for Liberty at $4.20 each. I also bought her a new church dress for $11.

My husband and I watched an episode of a show for free on Hulu.

I downloaded some mazes and a Maxfield Parrish image from week's Dover Sampler.

What did you do to save money last week?

Goals for the First Week of School

We're starting school again this week, so it should be quite busy. I want to keep on top of lessons and reading books, and I definitely want to do more science experiments and art projects this school year. I'll have 6 children doing schoolwork now, in 6 different grades, which will definitely take a lot of time and effort!

Some of these goals are things I didn't get done last week; hopefully they'll be finished this week! I'm actually sick right now, so I may be taking it easy while I work on recovering. If I feel better, I'll work on getting all of these done. Otherwise, schoolwork and cooking might be all I get done this week.


1. Keep on top of all schoolwork, including assigning and correcting

2. Find my camera battery charger. I've never mislaid this before, but it has been missing for a while and I cannot take pictures until it is found.  We found it!

3. Go through all library and living room books and reorganize them yet again. I did this earlier this month, but we are hoping to have some more bookshelves arrive at the end of the week, so I no longer have to have double stacked books.

(On a side note, last week I moved all of my library pins from a private house board to a separate, public library board on Pinterest, which you can see here.)


I'm sure I'll cook a lot more than this, but this is what I have planned so far:

1. Roast turkey

2. Bake ham

3. Slice ham and turkey for sandwiches

4. Bake rosemary olive oil bread

5. Make tomato basil soup


1. Bring a few objects into the library from other parts of the house

2. Cut flowers and branches from the garden

3. Hang 2 pictures in boys' room

4. Iron pillow cover and put it back in Cyrus' room (I washed it a couple of weeks ago)

5. Have my mom print transfer for pillow for Ezrom's room

6. Move (rehang) a couple of pictures into different spots in the library


1. Sew pillow and cover for Ezrom's room

2. Sew buttonholes and buttons on 3 items

3. Finish hemming my husband's shirt sleeves


We are having cooler than usual weather this month; normally these are temperatures that I see in September. I am going to try starting a few fall seeds in the garden to see if they germinate. The hardest part is keeping them damp long enough to germinate when it is this hot still.

1. Spread some manure in the garden (I have just a little bit to use)

2. Plant a few fall seeds in a small area

3. Cut more basil and hang it to dry

Monday, August 18, 2014

Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

I cut branches from the garden to decorate the house.

Two of the boys' posters showed up, and one was rolled in brown paper. I saved the brown paper for other projects/wrapping presents.

The Amazon gift card that I ordered from Swagbucks came, and I was able to order one more poster for the boys' room, and two MP3 songs that the family wanted, plus a little gift for Ezrom (that I am thinking I will wait until Christmas to give to him).

I did do a little shopping for food last week; I bought 14 pounds of frozen sweet peas at .98 a pound. We eat about 1 1/2 pounds at a meal. By buying several pounds at a time, I can save myself several trips to the store.

I dug up and cut off a new euyonomus plant that I started by tip layering months ago. I planted it in a pot that I already had. It will take years to get bigger (it's just a single branch now), but eventually I will be able to trim it as a ball topiary.

We had a bit of rain on two days. I put out buckets and collected water from where it falls off the roof (it rains so little that houses here do not need rain gutters), collecting over 7 gallons of water during our short amount of rain (one time it rained as long as 15 minutes, which is rare for here). I used that to water potted plants in the garden. The rain brought a bit of cooler weather, which allowed me to turn off the air conditioner for 12 hours one night, saving me about $7. I was also able to have it off for several hours each morning when it cooled in the early hours of the morning--an unusual thing that I don't usually do until September. When I turned the air conditioner back on, it was humid enough to collect several more gallons each day from the condensation that dripped from it, which I also used to water the plants. I also had the drip line and sprinklers turned off for a day because I watched the weather and was turned it off in anticipation of rain.

My husband and I watched an episode of a tv show that we like for free on Hulu. Ivory watched a few episodes of Little Einsteins for free on Disney Junior.

I took Ezrom to the library to pick up several Lego books that he had requested. He was so delighted with his stack of library books that he kept giggling as he checked them all out.

I shared several Armenian cucumbers and bunches of basil from the garden with friends. I bottled 26 pints of dill pickles using Armenian cucumbers from the garden, and 6 quarts of grape juice.

The cooler weather and humidity of a few days brought on lots of flowers on my beans at the beginning of the week, and on Saturday I harvested a large amount of red noodle beans, which made for plenty at the table one night.

I made a triple batch of laundry soap.

I bought something from Craig's list for the first time. I was looking and not finding anything, and then, I found it--and it was a fantastic deal!

I found a Thomasville nightstand (these run hundreds of dollars new and on sale) in just the color and size I needed for a table in our library (being a nightstand, it gave me the bonus of storage in three drawers, something I had been wanting, and why I was looking at furniture other than tables). The listing had it at $75; I took it home for $60. I am completely delighted with this find and it is perfect in the room. Buying the piece used saved me a lot of money over buying a new piece of furniture.

What did you do to save money last week?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

This Week's Goals and Meal Plans


1. Clean and organize closet with printer and school papers.

2. Put schoolbooks and teacher's manuals together for the current school year

3. Make sure I have everything I need to start the school year

4. Clean and organize my desk

5. Put away clutter in my bedroom


1. Pick ripe apples and Asian pears in the garden

2. Plant sunflower seeds in garden

3. Plant zucchini seeds in garden for a fall harvest; these should ripen in October

4. Plant more red noodle beans

5. Trim grape vines

6. Trim espaliered apples

7. Cut flowers to bring in

8. Cut basil and hang it to dry

9. Plant peanuts (if I can find a place to try again; they did not germinate last time)


I don't usually list cleaning goals, but I want to make sure I don't forget these this week.

1. Clean glass on oven door (I'm going to try baking soda)

2. Clean oven racks

3. Run a short self-clean cycle on oven (It recommends 8 hours, but it is usually done after 30 minutes. During that entire time the windows have to be open, according to the manual--the smell is quite bad and supposedly toxic, so I only run it for 30 minutes while having the vent fan on and the windows and doors open.)

4. Sweep and mop my bedroom and bathroom

5. Wash hairbrushes and combs


1. Finish hemming my husband's shirt sleeves

2. Add buttonholes to three items and sew buttons on them

3. Sew Scout insignia on Cyrus' Scout shirt

4. Sew arrow points on Ezrom's Scout shirt

5. Look through fabric that I have and decide on some things for some new dresses for Winter


I am working to recover a set of chairs. I'm doing one chair at a time. Last week I removed the double welting and washed the new fabric. This week I hope to:

1. Remove staples from chair

2. Remove fabric from chair and use it as a pattern to cut new fabric

3. Take all stuffing off of chair

4. Strip chair (I want to stain it a dark color, and right now it's more of a pecan)


I do not plan on buying any food this week; we will eat from what we have on hand in the pantry and freezer, and what is ripe in the garden.

1. Order a print of a picture I downloaded (for free from the Getty) for Ezrom's room

2. Look online for clearance shoes/sales for Winter, who is outgrowing her shoes and will now wear larger shoes than I do. (All of my family have wide feet, which usually means I purchase shoes online for the biggest selection and best deals). I may or may not purchase anything this week for her.


1. List items for sale on Craig's list

2. Bump up listing of table and chairs that I already listed on Craig's list

3. List books for sale online and figure out shipping costs (any suggestions for figuring out shipping expenses/how to best list books online for sale at Homeschool Classifieds would be appreciated, as I have never done this before and I don't want to shortchange myself in shipping items).


Here are some of the things I plan on making this week:

Rosemary Olive Oil Bread

Tarragon Chicken Salad (using cucumber and tarragon from the garden)



Smoothies using home-canned and frozen fruit

Popsicles from the leftover syrup that was in the canned fruit

Banana Bread and zucchini bread

Fruit Salad using canned peaches, pears, and grapes

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

Swiss chard (from the garden)

Chicken Flavored Rice

Cucumbers in Vinegar

Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

Rosemary White Bean Soup

Minestrone Soup

Bean and Rice Burritos (I'll cook a big pot of beans and freeze some to use another time as well)

Fruit Crumble

Carrot Cake

Saturday, August 16, 2014

In Lieu of Flowers

I had a chance to peruse a Pottery Barn catalog recently. I know that a lot of bloggers have been making their own version of Pottery Barn offerings, so I looked at it with that in mind, wondering what new projects I would see online soon.

I noticed that it wasn't always the products that make the room appealing. The windows and molding play a huge difference in the way the room looks. The other thing I noticed is that all of the rooms have something green and living in them--and it's usually not flowers.

I love flowers. I would love fresh flowers in every room in my house. Flowers aren't always growing in my garden, however. Sometimes, it's just something green.

And that's okay.

Fresh greenery can help your spirit, too.

In many of the pictures, the green living thing was just branches. It's the same with the interior home pictures that you've pinned on Pinterest. Look carefully, and you'll see the way that simple cut branches can make a room look elegant.

I like to trim my euyonomous bushes and put them in jars, and march them down the center of the table. They are fun in a windowsill, too.

Another super easy option is to cut leafy branches from a tree and put them in a tall vase or jar, and place it on a mantel, on your piano, on a table, or your bathroom counter.

Both of these options are simple arrangements that can brighten your day.

Here is what I've cut from my garden in the image above:

These are euyonomous branches. They look similar to boxwood and I grow them as hedges in the garden. Eventually some will be tall enough to shape into spheres. When they grow taller or wider than you want them, give them a trim and bring them indoors. As long as the water is changed out, these should last three weeks indoors. These ones are contained in a jar that contained sauce from the store (the empty jar was given to me).

This is a spring of jasmine. It's done flowering for the year, but the greenery is still pretty. The vase had a bit of cork in it when I got it (for free) so I think it may have contained bath salts previously. One man's trash is definitely another man's treasure in this case.

This is dusty miller. Our nursery carries two types; the other type has lacier leaves. It's great as a base for flower arrangements, but it's also fascinating on its own. The vase is a store reproduction canning jar, which also was saved from the trash (this piece and the two above came from the same person who saved these jars from her trash for me).

These are flowering plum branches, contained in a vase from the Dollar Tree, which also happens to look just like the one I saw in the Pottery Barn catalog--but for a lot less. I bought three of these, so I can also arrange them in groups. 

These trees are still young. As they grow taller this year, I am needing to take off the bottom branches, so that the branches will start higher on the trees. This is the second time this year I have cut the bottom branches (which these are) to shape the trees into what I want them to be.

Pomegranate branches are an easy trim; the plants like to produce an abundance of them towards the base of the tree, which need to be pruned. These are arranged in a vintage canning jar. Look for canning jars at garage sales and thrift shops at 50 to 75 cents each, or buy a new set of 12 for around 75 cents each.

Apple trees have a good number of small branches in mid-summer. Cut the water spouts--the ones that are growing straight up in the middle of the tree. Those need to be pruned in winter anyway, so you may as well enjoy them now and allow your tree to spend its energy on branches that will produce fruit. These are in a vase from the Dollar Tree. I have them on my entry table, where a tall arrangement works really well.

Brighten your day today with something living from your garden!