Time Management

15 Minute Cleaning

Yes, you read the title correctly- it says 15 minute cleaning. No, this is not a gimmick and I do not claim to have found the fountain of motivation- just a tip I have learned over the years when it comes to housework. I must admit, however, I am the exception to the rule of cleaning because I make up the roughly less than 1% of the population who actually happens to enjoy chores. So when people tell me they are behind on their cleaning or just can’t muster up the motivation to do it, my initial response is either 1) have you met my old friend, coffee? Or 2) Can I do it for you? Please? But neither of these offer practical solutions. I am not obsessive compulsive, but if cleaning for fun was a disorder, I am certain I would be professionally diagnosed. I am the textbook definition of a type-A personality- very task oriented and “to-list” extraordinaire. So it should come as no surprise that I have a system for cleaning- did I mention I love cleaning?

My love for cleaning stems from my childhood. When I was a little girl, I would put on this old blue and white striped dress that resembled something off of The Little House on the Prairie, and would help my mom around the house (unfortunately, my children did not inherit the cleaning gene). These early memories of helping my mom utilize the power of elbow grease- long before there was a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser and Swiffer Wet Jet- instilled the practice of stewardship in the maintenance of my home. And over the years, I have managed to find a balance with time that allows me to keep a consistently tidy house, without compromising my allowance of the more valuable things in life. Of course there are chores that cannot be done in a matter of 15 minutes, no matter how much coffee you’ve ingested. And despite my love to keep a clean house, it is by no means how I wish to spend a large portion of my day.

So I created a list of tasks that can each be easily accomplished in 15 minutes- when I actually meet that moment of spare time (Please see the dictionary for a definition of spare time). But this so called spare time is usually met in small increments, like bathroom breaks- and even those often get interrupted with the usual “mom!” questions. In these brief moments, I have found it is good to strategize what can be accomplished. Each individual task on this list can be completed in 15 minutes- yes, I have timed myself and I know it is possible.

Disclosure: child cooperation not included. It is nearly impossible to complete a task from the start to finish for a prolonged amount of time. But that’s the beauty of 15 minute cleaning- easier on the little ones who inevitably will lose patience or give in to their short attention spans.  Incorporating this philosophy will give you and your family the grace that is required throughout your daily routine.

15 Tasks that can each be accomplished in 15 minutes:

  1. Fold a small load of laundry
  2. Load or unload the dishwasher
  3. Vacuum 2 or 3 rooms
  4. Clean a powder room
  5. Mop the kitchen floor
  6. Change sheets on a bed
  7. Dust 3 or 4 rooms
  8. Clean out and organize the refrigerator
  9. Organize one or two kitchen cupboards
  10. Make all the beds
  11. Organize toys in a playroom
  12. Sort through mail and monthly bills
  13. Organize a coat closet
  14. Clean out a bathroom vanity
  15. Iron 3 or 4 clothing items

Cleaning does not have to be a huge chore- sometimes accomplishing small tasks in a short amount of time can be a victorious win for busy moms- moms who are searching daily to find balance between maintaining the home and spending quality time pouring into the hearts of their little ones. Keeping our homes clean is important, but we should never allow ourselves to get sidetracked from the real duty as a mom. The goal is to get things done efficiently and quickly in order to get back to just being with our husband and children. Because at the end of the day, success is not measured in a pristine and spotless home, but in the time invested in your family’s lives.

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

 

 

Budgeting

Making Cents On A Budget: Part 2

piggybank

Experiencing God’s faithful provision for our dining table challenge further instilled my perspective in the other areas I contribute to our household finances. With the power of persuasion, I might have been able to talk my husband into that table, but I chose to accept defeat and find an alternative without compromising our budget. Instead of using the power of persuasion, I opted to operate under the power of wisdom. As the women of our homes- we are by nature- the homemakers. Whether you work or stay at home, it is safe to say you perform the majority of the tasks that keep your home running like a well-oiled machine. We take weekly inventory of the household needs, we typically plan the meals and do the grocery shopping, oversee the decorating, buy the clothing items for ourselves, husband and children, and the list goes on!

After Jesse and I decided it would be my role to stay home, reality quickly hit that saving was no longer optional-it was necessity! My task was to learn how to save money even in the simple ways, which can easily be overlooked and may seem insignificant, but actually makes all the difference. But before we could create strategy in areas of savings, we first had to evaluate our spending. Jesse and I began by keeping every receipt and listing every purchase made over the course of one month. We tracked every coffee purchased, gas for our cars, entertainment, grocery shopping- EVERYTHING! For the first time, we had a clear picture of where our money was going each month- and it was eye opening. After reviewing our spending habits, we could easily figure out where our money was being spent and that knowledge pinpointed us to the exact areas in which we could save.

Some of my methods of financial budgeting may not be groundbreaking news, but they have stood the test of time and have proven over and over again to remain effective- I am testimony to that!

Here are my top 10 ways to contribute financially without earning a cent!

  1. Make a Grocery List and Stick to It. “The plans of the diligent lead to profit” (Proverbs 21:5). Sounds simple, right? But this actually requires a degree of self-discipline! If we do not go into the store prepared to buy what we need, will likely buy anything that sounds good and easily go overboard and over budget. If you still struggle with impulse buying, bring cash only to the grocery store and leave your cards and checks at home. You will be forced to only purchase what your cash value allows.
  2. Break Up with Cable. I know this is a close relationship for most Americans, but considering that the vast majority of things on TV are not very edifying and offer no greater purpose in life, we chose to break ties with our commitment to cable. But instead of completely saying farewell to TV, we decided to purchase an Apple TV and Netflix. The Apple TV was a one- time purchase that allows us to stream live TV, while Netflix is a monthly subscription of $10/month. So we still reap some of the benefits of watching TV, but on our own terms, so to speak. Not only has this decision allowed our family the availability to spend more time together, but we now save over $1,300 per year without cable. We thought it was going to be a huge feat, but honestly- we do not miss it!
  3. Collect Coupons. Think even outside the box of grocery shopping. If you search online and mail ads, you can discover coupons for recreational events, clothing, household items, take- out food, you name it! I once witnessed a customer in front of me at the check-out who had so many coupons, she actually got paid by the store for her purchases at the end of the transaction- I believe I witnessed a miracle that day. I do not profess to be one of those extremists, but why not save on every day purchases if it only requires us to utilize elementary skills with some scissors?
  4. Cook More and Eat out Less. “She (the Wife of Noble Character) gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family” (Proverbs 31:15). When Jesse and I were first married, I seldom cooked. We ate out for almost all our meals. When the Lord prompted my heart to stay home, I knew I had to turn over a new leaf in this area and limit take-out to maybe twice a month. Learning how to cook was a challenge of trial and error, but it has been beyond a rewarding experience. The nostalgia to sit with your family to a home-made meal is something to never take for granted- it will amaze some families what sitting together for a meal can do in a household.
  5. Shop Outlet Stores, Consignment Shops & Garage Sales. “The prudent gives thoughts to their steps” (Proverbs 14:15).  Buying clothing and necessities for a family can be expensive, but sometimes changing where you shop makes all the difference. Contrary to what you might think, you don’t have to sacrifice quality on a humble budget. Instead of buying shoes at the mall, our family went to the Nike outlet and purchased all new Nike tennis shoes for our whole family for $100. You can barely afford one pair of Nike’s from department shoe stores with that budget. Children are hard on clothes, so consider buying at least play clothes items at a consignment shop, rather than pay full price for clothing that will ultimately become decorated with spaghetti sauce and finger paint. And like our dining table blessing, consider shopping at re-sale stores or garage sales for your furniture and household needs- furniture loses value quickly, so don’t spend a fortune.
  6. Eliminate Extras. “He who gathers money little by little makes it grow” (Proverbs 13:11). Oftentimes, even the small expenditures in our lives make up a big difference in the grand scheme of budgeting. For instance, let’s say you buy a Grande Starbucks coffee Monday through Friday. This “little” purchase adds up to about $90/ month. Think of the possibilities if you re-direct that money to your savings instead. Opt for making coffee or tea at home and use a travel mug, if you’re on the go. Gym memberships are another area of extras, because you can exercise without a gym. Buy let’s be honest, running outside year round in Ohio’s inclement weather does pose a motivational challenge. Jesse and I decided while physical fitness was important (I’m married to a coach, after all), working out at a premier gym didn’t have to be a major monthly expense. So you may want to consider shopping around for a more feasible gym membership.
  7. Shop Around. “She (the Wife of Noble Character) is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar” (Proverbs 31: 14). I know what shopping is like with kids. I am pretty sure the term “pulling my hair out” originated from a mother taking her kids shopping. But sometimes limiting yourself to making purchases in one store could be more costly. Some items are simply cheaper at other stores- even with coupon discounts. I have tested this theory and discovered shopping at multiple stores saves my family an average of $20/week. Do not underestimate the power of small savings! That adds up to almost $1,000 a year.
  8. Budget-Wise Entertainment. Keeping kids entertained on a budget can be difficult- to say the least- but not an impossible mission. For instance, the Cleveland Zoo offers free admission on Mondays if you are a resident of Cuyahoga County, so our family treks to our local zoo on Mondays to take advantage of this opportunity. But if you live outside this range, consider other local places to enjoy family time- dollar theaters are an economical alternative to paying for the overpriced movie experience at traditional theaters. Even roller-skating rinks and bowling alleys offer community or family night discounts. The key is to do your research and find what savings await!
  9. Limit Advertisements. “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18). This is easier said than done in a society where ads are everywhere! Although I openly profess my love for HGTV, I had to limit my exposure to it. Every time I would watch a show, I either glowed with inspiration for an idea or felt green with envy. It was as if everything in my home suddenly became hideous and I felt compelled to just gut the whole house and start from scratch. I want my house to look beautiful, but thankfully, my family does not require an HGTV worthy house to come home to.
  10. Stay out of Debt“The borrower is servant to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7). If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it! Revolutionary- I know! But it is a wonderful practice of discipline to avoid financing at all cost. Of course- this is a bit unrealistic for larger purchases, such as funding for college or a house. But try to practice patience even in the smaller areas of spending. If you really want something- save for it first. It goes completely against the grain in the way most Americans operate, but Jesse and I have probably learned the most from this lesson. It truly gave us a new insight on life- what’s really important and how much do we really need those earthly things we think we need? Considering I do the vast majority of the shopping, I play a huge role in maintaining debt.

As a homemaker, you may not be contributing with a second income, but do not assume you have no influence in your household finances. Our heavenly Father designed you and me to play an intricate role to help our husbands by making wise decisions with the resources He has provided. I want to encourage and challenge you to evaluate your spending habits. Pray and ask God for wisdom to make good spending choices, discipline to resist impulsive buying and increasing debt, and learn contentment with what you have already been blessed with.

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

 

 

Food and Recipes

Chipotle on A Chip: Easy Corn & Black Bean Salsa

Corn and Black Bean Salsa

One of my favorite simple pleasures of summer is the food- it’s light, bright and fresh! So much variety of in- season produce to inspire new kitchen creations and mouth-watering recipes! But out of all the delicious choices of summer cuisine, somehow we still manage to get stumped with what to make for the summertime pot-lucks, BBQs or church picnics we get invited to. That’s why I am sharing my go-to recipe for my corn and black bean salsa. This salsa is the essence of summer- full of vibrant colors and refreshing! My love story with this salsa began when I was asked to bring an appetizer to my Sunday family BBQ. As I began skimming through my recipe book, I decided I wanted to try something new. I happened to be enjoying my burrito bowl at the moment when I discovered the answer was right in front of me: a simple corn and black bean salsa- affectionately now known as Chipotle on a chip!

This salsa is the perfect compliment to any summer gathering or get together. It’s like your favorite flip flops- simple and versatile. The only difficult thing about this salsa is the self-discipline required to actually save some for other people. This dish is also incredibly easy to multiply in the event you need to make a double recipe- for those times you have to feed a crowd or just have a severe hankering, which I must warn you, is a common side effect. To make this recipe even easier, I use frozen steam fresh corn- no one will ever know! But you can always use fresh corn off the cobb as a delicious substitute – and if you’re feeling ambitious! You can even add grilled chicken and wrap it in a taco to make it a meal!

Easy Corn & Black Bean Salsa

Ingredients:

1 bag (10 oz.) frozen steam fresh corn

2 tomatoes, such as hydroponic, washed and diced

1 small red onion, diced

1 can (14.5 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed

2 limes

¼ cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

Tortilla chips, for dipping

Directions:

  1. First-and this is the tricky part- microwave (yes, I said microwave) the bag of corn according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, dice the onions and tomatoes and place in a large bowl.
  3. Add the beans to the bowl.
  4. Cut the limes in half and juice each lime, making sure no seeds fall into the bowl
  5. Immediately, when the corn is done, add to the rest of the ingredients. It is key the corn is hot so it can absorb the juices of the tomatoes and lime.
  6. Salt and pepper the salsa, to taste (make sure it is adequately salted)!
  7. Add the fresh cilantro. Stir the salsa all together.
  8. Refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours, but up to 24 hours for the flavors to get to know one another.

I hope you enjoy this simple, yet scrumptious salsa with your family and friends! This has become a beloved summer staple in my home and I know you will adopt it as one of your favorites too!

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

 

 

Uncategorized

11 Simple Summer Solutions: Going Back to Basics

 

As kids are nearing the end of another school year, there is an outbreak of summer fever that erupts in anticipation for the adventures that await! You can almost smell the funnel cakes at the carnivals, taste the crisp, home-made lemonade, and feel the refreshing pool water on your toes-all the elements that remind us fondly as to why we love summertime. In the midst of all this excitement, befuddled parents are often left with the summer dilemma: what to do with the kids during these months off from school.  And in attempt to survive, create a strategy to combat  all the constant inquiries, the whining statements of “I’m bored” and “It’s hot” and the daily question of “Mom! What are we gonna do today”?

As I began to filter through suggestion blogs for summer fun, I can’t help but wonder: when did family entertainment become so complicated?   I recall summers  running barefoot outside, making a fort in the woods and playing capture the flag. Now it seems moms are formulating these elaborate summer itineraries that include lengthy Pinterest “must-do” picturesque crafts, projects and recipes.  Not to mention the multiple visits to the local attractions of amusement parks, recreation centers, zoo trips, and museums (complete with scavenger hunts, of course).

No wonder so many of us are pulling our hair out at the thought of summer! It’s become far too complicated! Do you remember your childhood? Our parents would never have stood for such ridiculousness. If we got bored when we were younger, our parents didn’t react like “Oh, no! What do we do now?- our child is bored”! They responded with a simple solution, like “go outside,” leaving us completely mystified as to how that solved our problem. It’s time to consider going back to basics- enjoying the nostalgia of good ole’ fashioned entertainment. Don’t overthink it, don’t stress out about it and just have fun making memories with your kids- that is the true opportunity of summertime!

11 Simple Summer Solutions:

  1. Sidewalk Chalk- kids love drawing on the cement. But don’t just sit there sipping your sweet tea-get in there and draw too! Draw a hopscotch or a four square and play a game with your kids.
  2. Take Bike Rides- check out local bike trails or just ride around the neighborhood. If your kids are smaller, bring a bike trailer.
  3. Nature walks- kids have this awe and wonder about nature. It is a great way to help them discover, while teaching them about God’s creation.
  4. Picnic in the Park- have the kids help you pack a picnic lunch. Eat at the park, then take part in a game of catch and play on the playground equipment.
  5. Library Reading Programs- kids don’t have to be on education auto-pilot over the summer. Libraries are a wonderful resource to encourage reading and offer a variety of family events throughout the week.
  6. VBS- take your kids to your church VBS and check out other local churches who offer a VBS program. This gives your kids the chance to make new friends and learn about God in a fun and exciting way.
  7. Water fun- it may not be the beach, but nothing’s better than a good sprinkler to run through or kiddie pool to beat the heat! Or even bask in the competition of a water gun fight!
  8. Bonfires- sit around the fire, tell corny jokes and funny stories, and make some gooey smores. This was the essence of my childhood summers growing up.
  9. Family game night- Board games and cards are great for rainy days, but on the beautiful days, get outside and play a simple game- play a game of soccer, have a hula hooping contest, or team up for flashlight tag.
  10. Garden- kids enjoy getting their hands dirty. It is a great learning experience for them to plant and watch the fruits of the labor grow.Let them pick two or three things each to plant. Remember- think simple- a small flower bed or vegetable garden is enough.
  11. Visit a local farm- many farms open to the public one or two days per week with reasonable admission. The kids have a chance to pet and feed the animals, and have a pony ride ( or five) Children can learn about farming and where food comes from and enjoy taking home some local, fresh produce for dinner!

When considering what to do with your kids this summer, just keep it simple. Our kids don’t expect (or need) this expensive, lavished summer. What kids do crave is not a daily schedule filled with endless projects and outings until reaching total exhaustion, but building relationships and memories with the ones they love the most.  As we begin our summer adventures, don’t think about how you can “survive” this extra time with your kids. Moms, I would love to encourage you that this is a golden opportunity to plant seeds of love in your kids. Seeds that are planted through your time and attention, not business. It is a season to enjoy, not endure.

This is my last summer of having my kids home with me everyday as I get ready to send my daughter to school for the first time this fall. Our routine will soon shift into fifth gear as we incur hectic early mornings, followed by afternoon sports practice, homework, and evening programs. I anticipate to cherish every moment of this summer before embarking into the busy unknown. I know a time will come when I will have to twist my kids’ arms to hang out with me. Take advantage of this time! Embrace the company of your kids in this summer season and this season in life!

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

 

 

Budgeting

Making Cents On A Budget: Part 1

 

One of the greatest insecurities I faced beginning my homemaker journey is having the desire to contribute financially without the tangible means to do so. I used to think that if I did not bring in a pay check, I had no effect over the financial situation of my household. Fortunately, this theory has been proven wrong over the past six years and I have discovered quite the opposite was true. As it turns out, women have more of an effect in the financial climate of the home than we may realize.

This epiphany occurred to me when Jesse and I moved into our current home. Our old house had a quaint eat in kitchen with a small, round table to seat four chairs. Hosting larger events proved to be a creative challenge to accommodate seating arrangements. So you could imagine I was thrilled beyond measure when our new house had a dining room. I have dreamt of dinner parties and family holiday gatherings around a large table for years.

As eager as I was, I was ready shortly upon moving in to set out for the perfect dining table. We shopped at some local furniture stores and one store had exactly what I had in mind. The table had that beautiful “Fixer Upper” look to it- a perfectly rustic, farmhouse table for eight.  I was sure Clint had made this table! When I found it, I placed my hands on the back of the captain’s chair, stood straight up and gave that persuasive smile to my husband as if to say “I want this one.” My husband agreed it was a beautiful table. Just then, the sales representative, who must have seen my smile as well, eagerly hurried over to seal the deal and  stamp her name on the commission.

I asked the sales rep how much the table and chairs cost. I do not recall if my jaw actually dropped when she gave the figure, but I am certain that my smile had disappeared when I heard the figure come out of her mouth. Then it was my husband’s turn to offer a facial expression and his clearly stated “let’s keep looking” or “did I hear that correctly?” or something like that. I left the store feeling discouraged. But Jesse and I had worked hard to keep debt at a minimum and I didn’t want to place another financial burden on him. So I accepted this opportunity as a challenge.

I began my search on consignment furniture stores and online private seller websites. I came across a table that was not quite the style I had chosen in the store, but nevertheless, it was a large, solid table. Even better, the seller was only asking $100. I found a set of six chairs the following week, coincidentally, selling for $100 as well. The upholstery was torn and weathered, so I went to a fabric store and purchased one I thought complimented the dining room paint and stain of the wood. It was such a blessing to find a beautiful table for my family  that did not set us back months in payment installments. With the cost of fabric, we spent $215 total!

Maybe my table isn’t HGTV worthy and I’m sure it would not qualify for a spot in Home and Garden Magazine. But it’s the place my family and I can sit together to give thanks to the Lord for all He has done, enjoy good food, laughter and make memories.  For me, a full heart is found at a full table, surrounded by those I love. I am humbly blessed that God provided us with a full table when we didn’t have a full budget. I am so thankful we did not jump in to that brand new, designer table and allowed God to show His faithfulness.  I have found through experiences like this that God’s provision always exceeds our expectations.

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

 

Uncategorized

Beginnings of A Humble Homemaker


Hello. My name is Jennifer Robinson and I am the humble homemaker. My journey as a stay at home wife and mother began about seven years ago when I learned I was pregnant with my beautiful daughter, Joanna. Prior to this life-changing event, I was well on my way to earning a nursing degree. Dreams of holding an honorable position with respectable wages awaited me upon my graduation.

I was the definition of a pro-feminist, who desired to one day perhaps be the bread winner of my family and hold myself in a lofty position over my household. I worked as a nurse aide at a local hospital while studying for my nursing degree, hoping it would give me a leg up once I graduated. My husband, Jesse, and I were married three years when I found out I was pregnant with my first child. I planned, like many women, to return to work and finish my education once I completed my maternity leave. I had it all figured out!

Fortunately, God had different plans that awaited me before I even realized it. Due to a work incident, my doctor placed me on lifting restrictions. If you have any knowledge of hospital work, you know it is anything but laid back duty. My boss told me she had to place me on early maternity leave because I was not legally allowed to work under these restrictions (I later found out that human resources would have placed me at a desk or considerable light duty for the remainder of my pregnancy, but I am oh so thankful I did not know this at the time- as you will soon understand why).

I was three months pregnant, far from meeting my little bundle of joy and suddenly faced with a great deal of extra spare time. Although I could utilize this time to focus on my studies, I somehow felt prompted to suspend my semester and allowed myself to relax and de-stress. I blamed this illogical reasoning to sensitive pregnancy hormones, because how else could I have justified this odd behavior of mine?

This left me with limitless free time, to which I had no idea what I was going to do with. I spent the first week off just enjoying my “vacation” and vegged out on the couch, nursing my cravings of fruit and french fries. After this point, I quickly realized I could probably find better use of my time than packing on unnecessary weight. I happened to glance over at my Bible , which honestly, had a thin layer of dust from not being opened in a while.

I was reading in Matthew and came across a passage that still remains one of my most cherished Bible verses to this day: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

-Matthew 6: 19-21

I placed my hands over my growing belly and felt the subtle movement of the little life God had knit together inside of me. I realized at that moment, my priorities had been completely backwards. I was on a mission for personal gain and was blind to the truth about who I was as a woman and daughter in Christ. I used to think that when the Bible talks about God giving us the desires of our heart, I thought that simply meant God gave us what we desire. But God met me in that moment and changed my heart and therefore gave me the desire to live a purposeful life for Him, not myself. My old journey to find career bliss and all the luxuries of the world had come to a sudden halt and a brand new journey was about to begin: to store treasures in heaven. And it all started with my family.

I began diving into scripture and immersing myself in supplemental books that could paint a picture of how I could be the woman, wife and mother I was destined by God to be. Being raised by a Christian stay at home mom myself, it occurred to me that the best thing I could do for my family was to simply be there- to care for, love, nurture, and admonish in the Word of God. I recalled all the memories of my mother instilling faith and the hope of the Lord in my spirit. I recalled the time she spent with me- playing dress up, catering to my imagination, and the countless prayers she spoke over me. I had always been a Christian and was raised in church, but now the seeds of scripture and my mother planted so many years ago were beginning to truly take root and bud in my heart.

I have been a homemaker for almost six years now and I don’t look back to how my life could have been had I finished my scholastic endeavors and embarked into the workforce. My company benefits are the faces of family I see every day. My position does not come with a 401K, but I hear the eternal investments are well worth it! I do not report to a boss, but I do have a wonderful heavenly Father who I work for. No, this position is not glamorous in any way, but it is a calling- a high calling from God.

I am excited for this opportunity to share my experiences about family life, the ups and downs of motherhood, faith, recipes, time management, organization, marital growth, living with one income and so much more! My prayer is that this blog provides practical advice to help serve your family and Christ, but also blesses and encourages your heart! Ladies, let’s begin storing treasures!

 

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker