Friday, September 12, 2014

Tell Yourself This: “It’s Okay if Everything Isn’t Perfect”

It's Okay If Everything Isn't Perfect - The Cozy Nook

I have recently talked with a couple of moms. They are trying to “do it all”, but they are getting very discouraged when they are not getting it all done.

Their days are full but sometimes seem empty as they end their days with tasks left on their “To Do” lists.

They juggle ages and grades and needs and demands and feel like they fall short in many ways.

One day they excel at child training and earn extra points in the mom department, but their homes seem neglected, and they barely get dinner on the table.

When moms see another mom “getting it all done”, they ask, “What’s the secret?”

Well, let me tell you the big secret.

The big secret is that there is no secret.

None of us can do it all, perfectly.

There are way too many demands in life for us to get everything done perfectly without leaving ourselves high and dry.

You must give yourself grace, and a lot of it!

Work hard. Train hard. School hard. Play hard, and when the day is done, feel good about you and your family!

Don’t beat yourself up! Don’t strive for perfection!

Tell yourself this:
It is okay if everything is not perfect!

It really is. It is okay if everything is not perfect!

It’s okay if your house isn’t perfect.
It’s okay if your kids aren’t perfect.
It’s okay if your schedule isn’t perfect.
It’s okay if your “To Do” list accomplishments aren’t perfect.
It’s okay if YOU are not perfect.

All that matters is that you do your best, trying to please God as you do it.

Don’t strive for perfect. Strive for order.

Strive for Order, Not Perfection - The Cozy Nook

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake - The Cozy Nook

I was positive I had shared this recipe before. After all I have been making this recipe for years now, hearing the “Oohh’s” and “Aahh’s” with each service.

After searching my blog high and low, it appears I have not shared this gem of a recipe, so it is time!

I make this chocolate chip cake as a treat for my family occasionally, and especially when we have guests. There are rarely any leftovers.

Chocolate Chip Cake
Found here at Mel’s Kitchen CafĂ©

Cake Batter:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/3 cups sour cream
  • 2/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Middle and Top:

  • cinnamon sugar
  • 1 bag chocolate chips, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 if using a glass pan).

Grease a 9 X 13 pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl combine all of the cake batter ingredients. Mix for 1 minute at low speed; mix 3 minutes at medium speed.

Pour 1/2 of batter into greased pan. Generously sprinkle cinnamon and sugar over batter making sure to get the corners and then sprinkle with 1/2 bag of chocolate chips. Pour remaining cake batter on top and spread across bottom layer. Repeat with cinnamon and sugar and chocolate chips.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with only a few crumbs (don’t overbake or cake will be dry!).

Monday, September 8, 2014

What Are You Thinking? Think About These Things…

Think About These Things - The Cozy Nook

What are you thinking today?

Are your thoughts good, pure, and edifying?

Are your thoughts energizing you?

Are your thoughts drawing you near to God?

Our thoughts have a lot of power. They have the potential to weigh us down or build us up.

The Bible reminds us to keep our minds focused on positive things.

Think about what is
True. Noble. Just. Lovely. Pure. Of Good Report. Of Virtue. Praiseworthy.
Philippians 4:8

What are you thinking today?
Renew your mind in the goodness of God!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Packing Lunches: How a Divided Container Helps!

Packing Lunches - The Cozy Nook

A couple years ago I wrote about my goal to pack a better lunch for my husband. I was packing some pretty lame lunches, and I wanted to improve!

When we started eating differently so we could shed some pounds, I  started to use a divided container to pack my husband’s lunch. It has worked wonders.

Using a divided container helps me purpose to fill each spot provided and pack a more varied lunch.

Rather than just throwing in some leftovers or a quick sandwich with a possible piece of fruit, I am more thoughtful about what I am putting together for him.

Here are some sample lunches I have made:

Lunchbox 1

Deli wrap, Plum, Pickle Spear

Lunchbox 2

Hamburger Patty, Red Pepper with Hummus,
Blueberries, Cottage Cheese

Lunchbox 3

Boiled Eggs, Chips and Salsa,
Blueberries, Mini Red Pepper

Lunchbox 4

Deli Wrap, Cucumbers, Peaches

Lunchbox 5

Middle-Eastern Bean and Potato Salads,
Deli Meat, Pear

If you are packing lunches for someone, try a divided container. I think you’ll like the result!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Pioneer Woman’s Tomato Tart

Tomato Tart - The Cozy Nook

Okay, I admit. This is nothing short of delicious!

Flaky pie crust.
Sweet, caramelized onions.
Gooey cheese.
Fresh, roasted tomatoes.

Yep, delicious!

That’s what my crew said as well. (Well, my husband and my two oldest children. The younger ones don’t like tomatoes and caramelized onions very much… yet. ~wink~)

Tomato Tart with Basil - The Cozy Nook

Tomato Tart
Original Version by The Pioneer Woman
Printable Version

2-4 Tablespoons of Butter (depending on how many onions you use)
1 or 2 Large Sweet Onions, halved and sliced thinly
Double Pie Crust Dough (I used the one I use for my chicken pot pie).
~ 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, grated
Parmesan Cheese
2-3 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half or whole
Basil for garnish, if desired

Preheat oven to 450.

Carmelize onions by sauteeing them in butter for about 20 minutes, until onions are soft and golden brown. I only used one onion because I prefer not to cover the entire base with loads of onions.

Lightly spray rectangular baking pan with oil. I used a 10 x 15 inch pan.

Roll out pie dough and place in pan.

Sprinkle mozzarella and parmesan cheeses over the dough.

Place carmelized onions on top of cheeses.

Layer tomatoes on top of everything.

Cook for about 15 minutes but start watching the tart after about 10 minutes to make sure your crust isn’t burning.

Cook until the cheese is browned, and the tomatoes are wrinkled.

Let sit for about 5 minutes before cutting. Serve with fresh basil on top, if desired.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Our Daily Homeschool Routine–The Family Flow

Our Homeschool Routine - The Cozy Nook

So far, I’ve shown you my proposed morning and evening routines. I hope that you found them helpful and inspiring and that you are creating your own morning and evening routines.

Another routine I have been working on is our school routine. Since we homeschool, this is the routine for the basic flow of our days. We use it to guide us throughout the day.

Although each year of homeschooling is different, I have noticed that the big picture tends to look fairly similar each year.

Here is what we are starting with and will tweak as needed throughout the year.

6:00 Wake time for me. I implement my morning routine.
7:00 Wake time for my oldest, starting 9th grade this year
8:00 Wake time for my other three children
8:00 Breakfast. I do the dishes. Kids do morning routines and start school work.
9:00 Worship and Bible
9:30 – 12:00 School for everyone. My kids will work independently, and I will teach and tutor as needed.
9:30 Preschool with my youngest
10:00 Snack
11:00 I teach Science and History to my middle two children
12:00 Lunch. Recess. Kids practice an Instrument. I check papers.
~1:00-3:00 Kids finish schoolwork, with me helping as necessary.
1:00/1:30 Rest/quiet time for my preschooler
2:00 Regroup time for me: Read, rest.
2:30 Snack. Kids can practice instruments. Chore time for me, if necessary.
3:00 I check papers.
4:00 Dinner prep.
5:00/6:00 Dinner, depending on evening schedule

Need help planning your own school routine?

  • Think about wake times.
  • Pencil in meal times.
  • What time do you want to start school?
  • Do you want to establish a family worship time?
  • Are there group subjects you are teaching?
  • Do you need a rest time during the day?
  • What time do you need to start dinner?
  • If your children play instruments, what is a good time for them to do that?

Don’t get overwhelmed with planning a routine. Start simple. You don’t even have to plan everything in your day.

Having a basic outline of the day helps us stay on target and makes for a better, more productive day.

Best wishes!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Plan Your Morning and Evening Routines

Morning and Evening Routines - The Cozy Nook

Routines are special. They provide stability and focus – a spine for the day. An evening routine helps us prepare for the next day. Remember, tomorrow really starts the night before. A morning routine helps us get our days started on the right foot.

As I mentioned in my last post, I am working on getting my routines fleshed out so I can provide a bit more structure as life gets busier with the start of school and other activities.

Here are what my routines look like so far:

Morning Routine
Make Bed
Bible Reading, Prayer – 20 to 30 minutes
Exercise  - 20 to 30 minutes
Shower, Dress – 20 minutes
Pack Hubby’s lunch, if not done the night before
Blog – 30 minutes
Make breakfast
Chore - 15 minutes or less
Check/Switch laundry
Check “To Do” List

Evening Routine
Make sure kitchen sink is clean and empty
Clean kitchen table
Chore - 15 to 30 minutes
Put laundry away
Pack Hubby’s lunch
Make realistic “To Do” list for tomorrow
Upstairs at 10 p.m.  Read, blog, connect with Hubby.
Lights out by/at 11 p.m.

When I planned my morning routine, I tried to think about what I want to get done in the morning and sketch out some rough time estimates. I am trying to make it realistic. Right now, it seems a bit idealistic, but I know that some of the activities can be optional if necessary.

Also, I may alternate some of the activities, i.e. Exercise one day, Blog the next.

Remember, routines are guides, not rulers!

They are meant to provide direction with flexibility.

My evening routine consists of things that are important to me in finishing the day well, promoting peace for bed time, and also in preparing for the next morning.

If my kitchen sink and table are clean in the morning, I feel like I have a clean slate. If they are dirty, I feel behind already!

Are you ready to plan morning
and evening routines?

Begin by making a list of the things that are important to you. You can use my lists as examples.

Over the next few days, keep a piece of paper out on the counter so you can jot down ideas for your routines as you think of them.

Once you create routines for yourself, consider posting them somewhere where you can see them so it is easier to follow them.

I pray your routines are a blessing to you!