Friday, March 30, 2012

Easter Calendar {free printables!}

As we are about to enter into Holy Week I thought I'd share some printables I've been working on to be used the fifty days of Easter. I created this calendar that you're free to print out and use with your family this Easter:

Click link below for free printable word document from Google Docs:

You can use this calendar in several different ways: color each square as the days pass, affix a small treat each day (e.g. m&m, gum drop, jelly bean), add a sticker, or if you prefer, I've also made a set of symbols you may print (see link above) that you may print and use with the calendar.

These pictures incorporate several traditional symbols of Easter. There are 5 sets of symbols: an Easter egg, peacock feather, Easter Bell, butterfly and dove. You may alternate the pictures throughout the 50 squares of the calendar or place them together by set of 10 (if you choose the latter method I'd recommend reserving the doves for last as a nice way to count down to Pentecost!). A little dab of glue stick or tape will work great for these. Here is an idea of what your calendar will look like with the pictures attached:

Note: you will need to trim the pictures just a little bit smaller than the squares on the grid to make them all fit nicely. Just trim away some of the extra white margin on the bottom, and you'll have a perfect fit.

If you'd like to discuss these popular Easter symbols with your children in further depth, Charlotte from Waltzing Matilda has put together a great little printable booklet here. Also, Shower of Roses has some wonderful ideas on incorporating Easter symbols into your celebrations here.

I've also put together a set of 50 printable Easter prayers for use with a Family Prayer Jar that I'll be sharing early next week so be sure to come check those out if you'd like to use them along with the calendar. I'm working on sets for each liturgical season, so also come back during Ordinary Time to print the next set!

I hope these printables help make your Easter celebrations special!

Wishing you all a truly blessed Holy Week!

Sharing With:

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Raising Homemakers

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Spruce Up Your Home to Spruce Up Your Life

As Spring is well, springing up all around us, many of us are heavily into "Spring Cleaning" mode. While some of us adore and excel at all things organization, others could use a little inspiration (ahem, present company excluded, of course! :p). If you find yourself falling into the latter category then I have just the article for you! I'm happy to feature a guest blogger, Kristin Wells, a recent college graduate who is eager to share her clutter-busting tips with you. So, without further ado, I bring you Kristin's wise words:

You may not have thought about this, but a few simple changes to your home can help reduce your stress and make your home feel more inviting and comfortable after a long day. This doesn’t need to involve a lot of work or expense; it doesn’t have to involve any expense at all. According to RealAge, when surrounded by clutter the body secretes the stress hormone Cortisol , which is bad news for your body. A few simple things that you can do quickly and easily will make a huge difference in your home.

First, identify the big clutter traps in your home, and clear them out. You may want to spend a few minutes at a time, several times, rather than diving in and clearing out one big pile at once. After you remove the clutter, look at the space and think about how you can prevent it from getting cluttered again. If it’s a closet, maybe you can put up some hooks or another closet rod. If it’s a table or shelf, maybe you can move it out of the line of traffic or put books or knickknacks on it so there won’t be room for clutter to accumulate.

Bedroom 2 Closet Pictures, Images and Photos

Have you rearranged your furniture lately? Take some time to look at your least favorite room or area and think about how you could move the furniture to change the flow of the room and make it more comfortable. Start with your least favorite area because you’ll notice the transformation immediately. You don’t have to study Feng Shui to make a room more likeable and livable.

paint n brush Pictures, Images and Photos

A fresh coat of paint can work wonders in any room, and is relatively inexpensive and easy to do. You don’t have to be a professional house painter to roll a new color on your bathroom walls or update the trim. It’s like having a brand new room, for the cost of a can of paint and a few hours of your time.

New curtains are another way to completely renovate a room very easily and affordably. If you sew, it’s even cheaper to make your own curtains rather than buying them. Curtains are a focal point of the room. Hanging new ones, perhaps in a different color or style, will freshen up your room and make the house feel homier.

curtains Pictures, Images and Photos

I was amazed at how much better I felt after tackling just a few areas of my condo. It really does give you immediate results when you walk out and back in the room to notice the difference. None of these improvements are expensive or take a lot of time. All of them are a great way to relieve your stress by making your house more enjoyable. If you’ve had a long stressful day and come home to a cluttered home, it will only exacerbate your mood. As we all know, more stress translates to worse health, which could lead to higher blood pressure or inflame existing conditions like Mesothelioma. Most people don’t think about the home as a stress reliever, but when you make a few little upgrades, it certainly will be.

Kristin Wells is a recent college graduate from The University of Georgia and an aspiring writer. She wants to make a difference in people's lives through her writing. Kristin also likes competitive cycling, running, and traveling as much as possible.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Spring {Cleaning!} is in the Air!

PAINT Pictures, Images and Photos

If you've happened to notice my total and complete absence from all things digital lately (e.g. blogging, facebook, message boards, twitter and even *gasp* Pinterest!) it's for 2 reasons:

1) I decided to cut way back on all of things for Lent in order to create more "God Space" in my life


2) I've been going completely crazy err, directing my attention to getting our house ready to put on the market!

For the past several weeks life has consisted of paint cans, drop cloths, closet re-organization and general "stuff purging" (which coincides conveniently during Lent!). I apologize for my utter lack of attention to this blog, but I promise I will be back to more regular posting soon! In the meantime I have 2 wonderful guest posters I will be featuring over the next couple of weeks as well as an upcoming giveaway, so stay tuned! :)

Now, back to my paint cans... {muttering un-ladylike phrases to myself...} ;)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Reflections on Lent...

Things have been a little quiet around here lately as I've been spending more time reflecting this Lent. In the weeks before Lent began I gave some thought to the ways I hoped to learn and grow. One of the things that popped out at me was the need to cultivate stillness. While I don't consider myself a super busy "type A" always on-the-go person, I found myself yearning for more silence, more contemplation, more time to really listen to God. One thing that clinched it for me was reading this Lenten Prayer over at Elizabeth's blog:

O Lord and Ruler of Life,
take from me the spirit of idleness, despair, cupidity and empty talking.
Yea, O Lord grant that I may see my own sins and not judge my brother.
For thou art blessed forever and ever.

She also has a wonderful reflection (see Lenten Prayer link above) on this that spoke directly to my heart. It's a wonderful read--I highly recommend it!

Another prayer that sums up my Lenten goals was this one from Daily Reflections for Lent:

Lord Jesus, purify our desires.
Help us long for what really matters and help us be done with things that are insignificant and of no consequence.
Too often we waste our precious time and energy on inane entertainment, dead-end projects, and trivial conversation.
Send your Spirit to enlighten us to see what really matters.

As I read both of these and listened to the stirrings inside of me, I felt the Lord calling me to manage my time more wisely. So I've been spending more time in quiet reflection (the quietness aspect can be a challenge as a homeschooling mama!). I've been reading more, thinking more, praying more and doing less. I've been taking this time to reassess my goals, figure out how to best serve others, and devoting more time and energy to my primary ministry--caring for my family. I'm trying to be intentional about how I spend the hours of the day that seem to vanish all too quickly, trying my best to eliminate distractions. My failings sometimes stare me in the face, but I know that this is part of the learning process. I'm thankful for the insight that helps me see my many weaknesses and for a Lord who forgives.

As part of my desire to create space for God, I thought I would also give Praying in Color a try. This is something that doesn't come easily to me because I get tend to get too task focused (which is the exact opposite of the point!) and have to remind myself to get back to the actual prayer part. I'm a work in progress. :) My usual go-to for focused prayer is the rosary so I thought it would be neat to try "coloring" the rosary. I haven't tried it yet, but the idea is appealing!

One of the things I've noticed with the added stillness is that I see better. I've been able to notice little things that would otherwise never get my attention. Things like the grass out my kitchen window greening up a bit and how wonderful a fresh cup of coffee smells. I've also begun a nature journal (another totally new thing for me!) to try to capture the beauty of God's creation. The kids and I have been doing this together and I love their enthusiasm as they draw a hawk soaring overhead, or the lines an airplane leaves in the sky. I highly recommend the book Keeping a Nature Journal if this is something that you'd like to learn more about.

The boys journaling

my nature journal

So, that's what I've been up to this Lent. I have a long way to go, but am thankful for the progress I'm making. :)

How has your Lent been going?
Have you tried or read anything new that you'd recommend?


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