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MIA Lately

Today is supposed to be a Friday Five post, but honestly, it’s been a rough couple of weeks and I’m at a loss for what to share. First, we learned of my brother in law Patrick’s unexpected passing at the end of October. (There’s a gofundme set up for his family here.) A few days after, my Uncle John passed away, followed a few days later by my Uncle Vince. 

Uncle John
My cousin and her dad, my Uncle John, taken a few years ago.
Uncle Vince
Dad, Mom and Uncle Vince, circa mid-1990s.

My uncles were a big part of my life growing up, and they will be greatly missed. While trying to write a few things to be read at their funerals, one of the hardest parts was choosing what to write. I have so many happy, and silly memories of them.

Today, I think, will be spent in my craft room happy place, creating and remembering.

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Friday Five with a Freebie

It’s been record-settingly cold this week, making me want to do nothing but sit under a blanket and drink all the hot drinks. We’re far enough south that we didn’t get any snow, but we got lots of rain. I love the rainy weather, but when it’s too cold and wet for kiddos to go outside and play, it’s a challenge. So, no snuggling under a blanket all day and no other blog posts this week.

These guys get a little crazy inside for a week!

Soup week

One thing I love about the colder weather is that it makes soups and stews make sense. I love cooking soups because they’re easy, filling and can be a one pot meal. This week I worked from a list of soups for our dinners, making meal prep so easy. I think my favorite was the sausage and potato soup. My kiddos preferred the Chicken Pho.

List-style meal planning like I did this week works better for me than planning for each day. Look for a post about my method soon.

Sewing projects

I actually did some cold-inspired sewing this week. Our old windows get a bit drafty in the winter. As a quick fix, I started with the window in the living room and sewed a quick, heavier curtain from an old cotton sheet lined with flannel. It’s not the prettiest, but it hangs hidden behind the lighter weight existing curtains on an extension rod. We can easily take it down on warmer days to let in the light. I may need to add hooks or screws for the rod to rest on, though, because our cats keep pulling it down.

I similarly covered two other windows in our bedroom. The rest will be more visible, so I’ll need to be more thoughtful with my fabric selection for them.

Voting

We early voted on Monday. I’m happy to have it done, but it’s a little strange for me. I always vote on election day, which makes the whole process seem more exciting. I’ve always thought it strange that election day isn’t a holiday. This year would be different regardless to prevent huge crowds at the polling places, but it would be nice if people were given the day off from work and school, so it’s easier and children could go to see the process. I still plan to stay up and watch election results come in, even though it could be days or weeks before all the mail-in ballots are counted and the results finalized.

Daylight savings time

Have I mentioned how much I hate daylight savings time? This weekend is one of my favorites, because we finally get to set our clocks back to what my body insists is the real time. We also get Halloween and a full moon, so the weekend could be really awesome or really interesting.

Sale and a freebie

Today and tomorrow all of my Halloween embroidery design files are on sale for $1 each, and this one is free! My fellow procrastinators can download them instantly for your last minute projects. Everyone else can get them on sale to save for next year. 😉

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Friday Five

Sometimes throughout the week I think of things that I’d like to share with you but aren’t really worthy of a whole post. They could be things I’ve been working on, other sites I’ve discovered, shop or sale info, or general randomness. My solution is the Friday Five, where I quickly share some of those random or interesting things.

Sewing machine struggles

My Kenmore needs repair again. This time I got so frustrated with it that I packed it up and moved it off my desk. I don’t like using my Brother for anything except embroidery. I’d hate to mess up my only embroidery machine when I have another basic sewing machine. So, that leaves me with my vintage Montgomery Wards Signature. It works really well, but I’m not as familiar with all of the settings. I’m nervous about sewing anything special, because I don’t want to ruin anything by having tensions or stitch length wrong.

It’s also on the other side of my craft room from my other machines and in it’s own table. That means I have to bring everything I need over to it, rather than have it stored within reach. That all has deterred me from sewing lately.

I finally decided earlier this week to try to finish some of the masks I was working on when my Kenmore broke. Those are fairly simple and I have plenty of cotton fabric, so if my machine eats it, it’s not too bad. So far I only finished one, though, due to interruptions and being slow on an unfamiliar machine.

I guess someone felt the need to decorate it for Halloween.

Masks?

On the subject of masks, I’m contemplating adding them to my shop, but not sure if there’s still enough demand for handmade. I keep getting requests from friends and neighbors, though, so maybe? It would be nice to have them listed so I can have a catalog of sorts to show people when asked. Thoughts?

These were a special order from a friend. Luckily I finished them before my Kenmore broke. Sewing someone else’s fabric on an unfamiliar machine is scary.

Meal planning is hard

I had a dentist appointment last weekend that involved an extraction along with some fillings. That means that along with my usual gluten and dairy free restrictions, I’ve had to accommodate not really being able to chew. For most meals, that means planning for the family and separately for myself. I’ve also been fairly successful with losing some weight lately, so I didn’t want to get out of my healthy eating habits by living off mashed potatoes and ice cream for a week. That made it more challenging, because most of the healthy, filling foods I can think of require chewing. Luckily I’m down to only avoiding things that are crunchy or have small seeds that could get painfully stuck.

Odd shopping habits

I finally reorganized the pantry shelves this morning in an attempt to make meal planning easier. For some reason, I have four jars of salsa. Four! Three of them are the bigger jars, too, and all the same variety. I also have a ton of dried black beans, two varieties of split peas and lots of lentils. The black beans and lentils kind of make sense, but I’m the only one who likes split peas. I also thought I had black eyed peas and was planning on using them in a curry this weekend, but I don’t. At least now I know what I have and what I need.

Creative Home Projects Bundle 2020

The Creative Home Projects Bundle 2020 is only available for a few more hours. I talk more about it in this post. If you’re interested, be sure to order it before 11:59pm Eastern time tonight. For total disclosure, I do receive a small commission on bundles sold through my links. If you’re into DIY, I do think it’s worth having a look at the list of everything included and see if it’s right for you.

There’s also a 30 day money back guarantee. Before I became an affiliate, I purchased several of the bundles. I loved all except for one. Maybe it was because I already followed a lot of the authors in that bundle, but I just didn’t feel like I gained any new information from that particular bundle. I requested a refund by email within the 30 days and had it right away with no problems. I always hate guarantees or free trials that make it hard to cancel or request a refund, so I really appreciate how easy it was with Ultimate Bundles.

That’s it for today. Have a great weekend!

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Lost Your Crafting Mojo? Enter the Creative Home Projects Bundle

Affiliate disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through any of the links on this page, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. All the statements contained in this post are my honest opinions of the product, the Creative Home Projects Bundle 2020.

Between sewing machine troubles and children keeping me busy, I haven’t had much time for crafting lately. Even when I do have a few spare moments, my brain is so focused on everything else that I don’t know where to begin, which is unfortunate. Crafting is a great way to destress, and we all need ways to unplug and destress, now more than ever!

But that’s not all….Crafting and DIY projects give you the chance to learn new skills, do something with your hands, and beautify your home. With Christmas right around the corner, now is a great time to get started on unique handmade gifts as well.

Do you want to spend more time creating?

My friends at Ultimate Bundles have curated a brand new bundle to help.

It’s called the Creative Home Projects Bundle. It has resources inside to help you master beautiful hand lettering, create vinyl crafts with your favorite cutting machine, repaint your cabinets, furniture and walls, make one-of-a-kind jewelry, improve your sewing, refashioning ideas, upcycling and so much more!

When you buy the Creative Home Projects Bundle, you’ll get access to:

  • 11 eCourses
  • 30 eBooks
  • 9 workbooks & printable packs
  • 14 tutorials & templates

The creators behind all 64 resources are makers who are passionate about creativity, helping you make your life more beautiful, and teaching you new artistic pursuits!

And best of all, you can get the entire package for just $19.97.

What I’m Loving in the Bundle

I’m especially excited about the Easy Refashions for Every Season ebook by Elizabeth Farr and the printable Upcycled T-Shirt Romper and Dress Sewing Pattern by Heather Paulsen. There’s also the Fun & Easy Halloween Crafts by Stephanie Gilbert ebook. With COVID-19 concerns, Halloween will probably look different this year. Hopefully Gilbert’s book will give me ideas for activities to make it more fun for the kiddos.

Check out the Creative Home Projects Bundle right here: http://ultimatebundles.com/sale/chpb2020-main#a_aid=5ef0b9e06ff22&a_bid=41f3cb48

P.S. If you buy by midnight tomorrow, you can also get a free subscription box from KiwiCo (value $19.95). They offer a box for every age and interest, so you can choose the box that fits your family best! Check out the bundle and the bonus here: http://ultimatebundles.com/sale/chpb2020-main#a_aid=5ef0b9e06ff22&a_bid=41f3cb48

Creative Home Projects Bundle 2020

Do you love Ultimate Bundles as much as I do? Click here to find out how to become an affiliate.

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Feeling Stuck and Overwhelmed? 10 Tips to Get Moving Again

Feeling Stuck and Overwhelmed? 10 Tips to Get Moving Again

Whether it’s a new project, work, or just daily life, sometimes it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Maybe you’re struggling to find balance while juggling work, home life and new schooling situations. Maybe a task seems too huge or unpleasant to tackle. It could be that you’re unsure of how a project will turn out, so fear keeps you from making the first move. Maybe there’s just so many other things on your plate that you find yourself too mentally or physically exhausted to tackle that one thing. Here’s a few ideas to get unstuck and moving forward again.

Overwhelmed? These 10 tips will help

Brain dump

When you’re really anxious or don’t know where to begin, doing a brain dump helps. Grab a pen and paper and just write out everything on your mind. Don’t think about it, don’t worry about complete sentences or cohesive ideas, just get everything out on paper. When your done, look it over. Is there a theme to what you wrote, some repeated word or idea or area of focus? Use that to help you determine your next move.

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

Make a list

Making a list of what needs to be done creates focus. It also takes the pressure off of yourself to remember everything. Once it’s written down, you’re free to focus on one task at a time. Because it’s all written down, you don’t have to keep a running list of everything in your head. As you complete a task, mark it off. Focus on your list getting shorter, not how much is still left to do.

Break it down

If a task seems too big, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Breaking it down into smaller tasks makes it more manageable. For example, if you need to clean the house for company, don’t look at the whole task of cleaning the house. Take it room by room. If that still seems too big, list specific tasks within each room. Don’t say “Clean the kitchen”, have individual tasks like wiping down counters, sweeping the floor, mopping the floor, etc. listed separately.

Prioritize

Some tasks come with a deadline or are more important than others. If there’s a deadline, make a note of that deadline on your list and mark it somehow to make it stand out. If it’s something that is high priority, regardless of a specific deadline, make note of that, too. I like to draw a star next to high priority tasks, and highlight or double star things with a deadline.

Set goals

Be realistic about what you can accomplish in a day and set goals accordingly. If there are specific tasks that have to be done first, then set your goals around those. Otherwise, your goals could be something like marking off five tasks each day. If you meet your goal, good for you! Do you have the time, energy and desire to mark off a few more? Go for it! Didn’t meet your goal? See if you need to re-evaluate your expectations so as not to get overwhelmed and discouraged. If it was simply a case of other obligations taking too much time, try again tomorrow.

Set alarms

If you have something that needs to be done at a certain time, like an appointment at noon or starting dinner at five pm, set an alarm in plenty of time to stop and get ready. When I have an appointment or event coming up later in the day, it’s hard for me to focus on other tasks, even when I have plenty of time. Knowing that I have an alarm to remind me when I need to stop makes it a little easier.

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

Set a timer

Setting a timer is useful in a few ways. First, if you find yourself completely unmotivated, pick a task and set a timer for five, ten or fifteen minutes, whatever seems manageable. You can do anything for five minutes. Pick a task and see how much you can accomplish in that time. When the timer goes off, give yourself permission to stop for a break or switch to a a different task. I often find that when the time is up, I’m so close to finishing that task that I want to keep working.

You can also use a timer to break up a bigger task into smaller chunks of time. Give yourself thirty minutes or an hour to work on a bigger job. When your time is up, stop and take a break or give yourself a five to fifteen minute window to knock out a few quick tasks. This helps you keep the little things from snowballing while you work on a big project.

Finally, setting a timer helps with time management. Everyone needs a break now and then, but it’s easy to allow a quick break to turn into an hour of getting off task. Decide how long of a break you want, set a timer and stick to it.

If timers work for you, you may want to checkout Flylady. I’ve used that method of home organization in the past and found it really helpful. It’s particularly helpful with establishing routines and taking everything in “baby steps” so you don’t get overwhelmed with the process.

Stop waiting

Do you ever find yourself doing nothing just waiting for something. Things like waiting tem minutes for dinner in the oven or sitting on hold on a phone call. Use waiting time that’s often wasted to knock easy tasks off your list.

Just do it

Sometimes there’s a task that I put off because I find it really unpleasant. Usually that leads to putting off other things, because that task is hanging over my head. Often it’s something simple like making a phone call to set up an appointment. There’s no way around getting some things done, so give yourself a minute to stress if you need and jump in. Once it’s done, you can mark it off your list and wonder why you put it off for so long. If it really was that bad, at least it’s done.

Reward yourself

Sometimes your accomplishments are their own reward, and sometimes not so much. Give yourself little incentives, even if it’s just ten minutes of playing a game, or a cup of tea and your favorite show. Knowing that something enjoyable comes after something unpleasant is motivating, especially after a “Just do it” task.

Not everything is as easy as just make a list and do it, but when you’re feeling overwhelmed, using these strategies where they do apply can help free up energy for dealing with the more difficult problems life throws at you.

Bulletin board image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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Want to be Featured?

Want to be featured

Want to be featured?

In the past, I often featured handmade or vintage shops on Fridays. Over the years, the world of crafting and blogging has changed dramatically. I would love to resume Feature Fridays, but with a broader scope.

Handmade shop and websites are still welcome. I also want to feature guest writers sharing tutorials, tips, advice, recipes, etc. Categories that I feel are a good fit for this blog are crafting, sewing, sustainability, refashioning, healthy living, parenting, hair and beauty tips for busy moms, homeschooling and homesteading. I am open to other topics as well, so if you are interested but don’t quite fit into one of the above categories, please contact me anyway with your idea.

Guest posts will be promoted across my social media sites frequently throughout the week they are published and then periodically after.

Handmade shop/website features

For handmade shop/website features, answer the questions in the following list and email them to csloan@subearthancottage.com. I will contact you before your shop is featured and if any clarification is needed. You can give as much or a little info for each section as you are comfortable with sharing. Be sure to include links to your shop, web page and blog, if you have them. If you sell your products in a brick and mortar store and would like to include that info, you may include that as well.

I also choose a favorite item from your shop on the week that you’re featured and briefly tell why I like it. The first image from your shop for both your favorite item and my favorite item will be included in the blog.

  • Name and Business Name
  • Tell us a little about yourself and your business.
  • What made you get started in your business?
  • Anything else you’d like to share?
  • Tell us about your favorite item listed in your shop.
  • Links to your shop, website, blog, etc.
  • Email address (This will NOT be published)

Guest posts, tutorials and everything else

Please contact me at csloan@subearthancottage.com with your idea. If you already blog, a link to your blog or site where your writings are published is also helpful. Newbies are welcome, too. I’m also not opposed to reposts if they are a good fit and your own work.

If I think your idea is a good fit for SubEarthan Cottage, I will let you know and we will work out the details from there.

Matisse Creativity Mug Mugs featured
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Office to Homeschool Command Center Progress

Well, I didn’t get quite as far as I would have liked on creating our homeschool command center last week. The hard part of clearing and reorganizing shelves is done, though. Now I just have to bring in the supplies and books I plan to use this year. 

Homeschool bookcase

In the past, Beckett and Finn kept their materials in their computer desk or on a shelf in their room. Except for web-based assignments, though, they rarely work at a desk. Usually it’s on the couch or bed or wherever is comfortable. The end result was missing pencils, notebooks and textbooks. I’m not really a desk-worker, either, so I’m focusing on a better arrangement for the supplies. Each kiddo gets their own shelf in the office for their books and writing journals. While Thadd doesn’t officially start Kindergarten until next year, he’s already beginning to write letters and simple words. It seems like giving him simple assignments to work on, so he can do what his big brothers are doing will work better than trying to keep him otherwise entertained while I’m helping B and Finn, so he gets his own shelf, too.

Homeschool bookcase in progress.

I’m hoping that this arrangement will make it easier for me to keep track of their materials. I also like that, as I find more materials that I want to incorporate, I have a specific place to put them. Then there’s the added benefit of getting an overall view of what they are working on just by checking their shelves. This is especially helpful for subjects like elementary science and history. For those, we tend to use more topic-specific books rather than a traditional broad textbook.

White boards

Our office has two walls of white boards. Usually we just write things out on paper when they need my help to work through math problems or other tasks. The white boards might add some variety, or be useful if we’re doing a science experiment and want to explain what’s going on to more than one kiddo at a time.

Still some decluttering to do around the whiteboards.

I also plan to have a daily task list for each child that can be checked off as they complete tasks. I haven’t decided if I’ll use the white boards for that or use printouts or calendar sheets in sheet protectors. With the sheet protectors, I can print out a basic task list and write specifics on the sheet protector in dry erase marker. That way there’s less paper used. The white board is also easily changeable and highly visible, but not something that’s portable and easy for them to check off themselves.

Looking for more homeschooling help?

Obviously I still have some planning to do. We usually have our official start to the year when the local public school starts. That’s about four weeks away, so there’s still time. If you’re familiar with Ultimate Bundles, they launched their Ultimate Homeschooling Bundle 2020 today. It contains 13 eBooks, 8 eCourses, 22 workbooks & printable packs, 5 curricula, 2 membership sites & a summit, all geared towards homeschooling families. If you purchased everything separately, it would cost over $1200, but if you purchase it as a bundle, it’s only $29.50. In order to offer it at such a discount, the sale is limited. In order to get the homeschool bundle, you must purchase it by Friday, July 31 at 11:59pm ET. If you purchase the bundle and find it’s not for you, there’s a 30 day money back guarantee.

I just purchased mine. Once I’ve had a moment to look it over, I’ll share the things I find the most helpful to round out planning for our school year. For full disclosure, if you purchase a bundle through any of the links on my blog, I will receive a small commission. I personally find the bundles a good value with tons valuable information, but everyone’s needs are different. This week’s blog focus is homeschooling, but next week I’ll return to more recipes, DIYs and refashions.

If you’re interested, I urge you to check it out before midnight ET on Tuesday, July 28 (tomorrow night). If you purchase before then, you’ll get a free early bird bonus: a Wild Happy Family Media Membership worth $27.00. The Wild Happy Family Media Membership is an all-in-one, instant adventure library, ready for you and your family to explore at the click of a button.

Purchase your bundle before this timer runs out to get your early bird bonus.

Countdown Timer

Not an early bird? That’s okay. There’s still

Countdown Timer

to get your Ultimate Homeschooling Bundle 2020.

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