Thursday, March 29

calling the ball

dear loyal friends & readers,

i am officially calling the ball. i've been avoiding this realization & post for several weeks now, but it's time to just be real. i'm taking an indefinite hiatus from blogging. i've debated several time about just ending it altogether, but i've thought better of it since. so, this isn't a "goodbye" or forever, but it's a "see ya later" without knowing when that later will be.

this is so hard because i really enjoy blogging, planning for it, doing the projects, thinking up fun things other people might want to know about, & i love hearing from ya'll. but the reality is that i don't have time to keep up with it.

first of all, you have to be doing something to blog about! and lately, the casa has been at a standstill when it comes to getting projects done. [although, we have been slowly chipping away at the office.] right now, we're just trying to keep the main rooms clean enough for company & the laundry piles to a minimum.

when 2012 began & i planned getting back to the blogging world, posting regularly, i didn't anticipate how much time my new job would take. i figured it would be a 25-30 hour a week job, leaving me plenty of time & flexibility for getting projects done around the casa. it turns out this is totally a full-time job! even with my newly-formed team working with me. and i love it. i'm incredibly passionate about my work [which is helping people get connected using their gifts & passions to serve God & others], & i'm thrilled to spend more time working on it. but something has to give. and with everything else going on in my life right now, i finally, reluctantly, decided it would be blogging. i posted about my goals earlier this year. i want to accomplish those this year, & so my time will be spent pursuing these avenues.

i'm positive this won't be the last time you see me on here! as soon as the office is up to snuff, i'll take a little time to put up some pictures. when we finally figure out what color to REpaint the house with, i'll update ya'll. i look forward to the opportunities we'll have to meet up in this nook of cyberspace again, & until then i wish you all the best!

shine on!

Monday, January 16

menu plan monday v.2.3

as you can see below, we're eating out quite a bit this week. we have plans with business & friends, so it will be an easy week for me in the kitchen! we both had a hectic work week, so i didn't get around to making greek this weekend. i'm looking forward to it coming up on thursday.

as you can see, my january menu plan starts to get modified the longer the month goes on. but it's still extremely helpful to have the month planned so i don't have to spend much time planning each week!

monday - OUT for work
tuesday - OUT for work
wednesday - chicken & black bean quesadillas
thursday - chicken souvlaki with tzatziki & greek salad [made without the shrimp]
friday - OUT for date night
saturday - salmon, brussell sprouts, & sweet potatoes
sunday - @ life group

baking - baklava muffins

another great place to find lots of menus & recipes is over at the organizing junkie blog -- i like up there every week.

Saturday, January 14

goal setting: putting them into action

last week, i wrote about why i like to make goals instead of resolutions. but even a goal isn't very helpful if there isn't a plan of ACTION.

i thought it would be easiest to share with you my ideas on how to act on your goals by showing you how i broke down a few of my goals for the year.

these are three different goals i have for the year [out of 12]:

read 42 books.

paint every week!

run a marathon.

and here's the break down of each goal into actionable items:

read 42 books
[one] make a list of possible titles to read.
[two] each month, choose 4 books to read.
[three] place books in reading areas: side table next to couch in the den, nightstand in bedroom, desk at the office, my phone, etc.
[four] slate daily & weekly times to read.

i'll break down this goal more than the following ones so you can see that i have/do act on them.

my list of possible titles to read:

  • be rich - warren weirsbe
  • life together - dietrich bonhoeffer
  • sit, walk, stand - watchman nee
  • decision-making & the will of God - gary friesen
  • with Christ in the school of prayer - andrew murray
  •  the divine hours - phyllis tickle
  • the book of common prayer
  • celebration of discipline - richard foster
  • breaking dawn - stephanie meyer
  • the harry potter series - j.k. rowling
  • freedom of simplicity - richard foster
  • the secret of confession - paul o'sullivan
  • the hunger games series - suzanne collins
  • for all God's worth  - n.t. wright
  • 10 power principles for christian service - david & warren weirsbe
  • rediscovering lectio divina - thelma hall
  • God's chosen fast - arthur wallis
  • Jesus the One & Only - beth moore
  • soul feast - marjorie thompson
  • pride & prejudice - jane austen
  • home tonight - henri nouwen
  • the return of the prodigal son - henri nouwen
  • a tale of two sons - john macarthur

this is a good start. there are 31 titles on this list if you include all the books in a series. that leaves me "room" for professional development books that come my way & rereading other favorite fiction. several of these books i've read before, but many are new titles. then of course, there are books like pride & prejudice that i read every year! 

my january reads:
  • be rich
  • life together
  • a place to serve
  • breaking dawn

i've placed be rich & life together next to my couch in the den. a place to serve is a book i'm reading for work, so it's on my desk at the office. and breaking dawn occupies my nightstand. :)

last, but not least, i have reading time built into every day. i read one to two chapters of a good fiction book every night in bed before falling asleep [currently finishing up breaking dawn], & i read almost every day at work at least one chapter of a book regarding ministry. and i do a good deal of reading on most sunday afternoons, a time devoted to a monthly theme. this month, i'm focusing on the book of ephesians & the concept of "one-anothering" so the first two titles i aim to read in january await me in the den for my sunday reading time. 

every month, i just have to take the time to choose new books to read & place them strategically so that i actually read them. i set a reminder to do this on the first of every month via my iphone dayplanner app. easy peasy. at this pace, i could read 48 books this year, but a goal of 42 allows for occasional unmet aims! [although, my ultimate goal is to raise my number of books to read each year until i consistently read at least 52 books every single year!]

paint every week!
i've had the goal to "paint!" for several years now, but what i really want is to consistently indulge in this favorite pastime, so this year i upped the ante. 

[one] buy a new easel. 
[two] set up a painting nook in the office.
[three] plan possible project ideas. 
[four] buy canvases & stock up on paints.
[five] set aside weekly TIME.

my old cheapy easel got lost after being used at a friend's wedding. i've been wanting a new sturdier one anyways! so i bought a new one this weekend using xmas money. it can hold a canvas as tall as 48"!

the organizing junkie is planning to hold another whole room organizing challenge in february where you declutter, clean, & organize a whole room in the 29 days of the month. i am going to do the office. in the process, i'll set up a painting nook in a spot i've already designated for it. until then, i'm set up in the living room.

the first week in january, i painted three small canvases for my sister, vanessa, with states she's lived in: texas, virginia, & north carolina. i wish i had a picture to share with you. maybe i can get her to take & send me one... i hope to share my second week project with you on wednesday, so check back then!

last but not least, 

run a marathon.
[one] exercise & get in shape.
[two] complete the couch to 5k eight-week program.
[three] run a 5k in march/april.
[four] run a half marathon in june/july.
[five] run a marathon in october/november.

so far, i'm going to the gym 3-5 days a week doing circuit training & couch to 5k alternately. so far, so good!

if you stuck with me through all that reading with no pictures, bravo! next week, i'll share with you some tools i have found helpful in accomplishing goals. i hope the above ideas inspire you to make goals & make ACTION plans to accomplish them!


Wednesday, January 11

top 10: reasons why i love pinterest

every summer, shaun & i work at a bible camp in north carolina [along with my sister, vanessa]. every day at dinner, our fearless assistant director, geoff sykes, reads an original top 10 list. over the years, these have become some of my favorite memories from camp. i've been inspired by the creative genius to create my own top 10s. mine aren't humorous like his, but hopefully they're fun!

today, i'd like to feature reasons why i love pinterest. there's alot of buzz about this thing called pinterest, & i'm among the addicted masses!

[ten] it's better than a pile of magazine clippings.

[recipes i've clipped over the years]

these are the most organized magazine clippings i have, & they're a mess! these are just my recipes to try. i have tons of other ripped-out pages scattered around the casa. it's one of my organizational projects for 2012 to wrangle all these clippings! pinterest is just like clipping things from magazines, except it's online, & it doesn't clutter up the casa.

[nine] it's safer than my hard drive. 
if you don't remember me whining about this back in september, my mac logic board died, & it had to be replaced. i lost so many files & photos that thinking about it again even now makes me nauseous...

among those files were carefully organized files of "ideas" -- a plethora of inspiration. while i guess it's possible pinterest could crash from all the traffic [kidding! don't panic!], it's become my mission to back up all my files out in cyberspace rather than keeping them on my computer. pinterest does this for me!

[eight] it's free, so it's a thrifty girl's dream!
magazines are expensive! it's not so bad if you have a yearly subscription, but newsstand prices are $5-plus a pop. shaun's the frugal one between the two of us, but i love to save money, too. [an extra $5 a month means an extra girlfriends' coffee date!] pinterest is free & has unlimited access, not to mention a wide array of subject matters. it's like having dozens of magazine subscriptions!

[seven] it's green & tree-friendly.
no printed magazines needed, no more clippings. because it's all online, it's saving trees. and since it also means less mess around the casa [see reason number ten], it's win-win!

[six] it's uber-organized.
i really like how i can create unlimited boards, labeled just how i like them. just this week, i split my recipes board into multiple boards based on type of food [appetizers, drinks, etc.]. i personally have 55 boards -- can you imagine how many 3-ring binders [or more realistically boxes of clippings] this saves me?!

[a snippet of my boards]

[five] it makes menu planning faster & easier.
one of my favorite things to peruse on pinterest is the foods. most "pins" are linked back to the original website containing a recipe. every month when i do my menu planning, i go through my food boards to get ideas of new dishes to make & bake. it's like having extra cookbooks or recipe magazines. just two nights ago, i made pomegranate-hazelnut salad, which i found via pinterest -- shaun & i both agreed it's a keeper!

[four] it's an easy way to keep track of the original source of your ideas.
in blog land, as in all of life, it's very important to give credit where credit is due. when i saved things on my computer, i didn't save the sources of all the pictures & ideas, so it would have been unfair for me to share them with others online. but with pinterest, i can always link back to the original person & even contact them for permission to use their ideas &/or pictures [also very important]. i love love love this aspect of pinterest.

[three] it has an atmosphere that fosters sharing ideas.
i love when many minds come together & share ideas, coming up with things far greater than any one person could alone. i think ideas are powerful, & they are meant to be shared for the benefit of others. pinterest does this in various ways: by the ability to "repin" others' pinned pictures, by being able to "pin" from any website or blog, by the comments, mentions, & likes. it makes me happy to see what my friends are inspired by. it's a happy little cyber community!

[two] it's totally addicting.
maybe i shouldn't love this part, but i can't help it -- i'm addicted! i am definitely among the many who spend entirely too much time on pinterest instead of getting things done... i love these running jokes:


and last but not least [except that the number one is mathematically less than all the previous numbers listed...] -- drumroll please!

[one] it's oozing with creativity, & i love being creative!
i love making things with my hands. whether it be designing & building furniture or baking cookies, knitting a scarf or painting a canvas, i love to make things. i think it's an innate quality in us that is an image of the Creator. in response to the above pinterest jokes & my desire to DO, one of my 2012 goals is to finish at least one pinterest project every week. this could be trying a new recipe, organizing something, or creating art. i just want to DO something with this wealth of ideas & possibilities! i'll showcase some of my pinterest projects throughout the year right here on the casteelcasa.

in the meantime, take some time to share ideas, gather ideas, & do something creative!

Tuesday, January 10

clean routine: bite-sized pieces each day

i'm a "type-a personality"...  at least in part. i love organization with a passion! keeping organized, however, still proves an elusive challenge. one thing that helps me stay semi-organized is my weekly routine. it's adapted from the concepts written about by flylady. i've made my own schedule to fit my life. here's the basic run-down:
  • mondays: weekly chores
  • tuesdays: deep clean zone
  • wednesdays: desk day
  • thursdays: errands
  • fridays: date night
  • saturdays: plants & yard

when i follow this schedule, i'm able to keep my house cleaner, more organized, & keep my sanity in the process! on mondays, i spend 1.5 - 2 hours doing general straightening & maintenance cleaning. on tuesdays, i spend 1.5 - 2 hours doing a deep clean on one zone in my home. it takes me seven zones to get the whole casa. ideally, every room gets deep cleaned every seven weeks. my current zones are: 1] the den, 2] the kitchen, 3] the office, 4] the living room, hallways, entryway, & stairway, 5] bathrooms, 6] bedrooms, & 7] the basement. on wednesdays, i spend 1 hour paying bills, updating the ledger, responding to correspondence, filing paper, & general office organization. on thursdays, i run errands for a couple of hours in the afternoon, and on saturdays, i [sometimes...] water plants & work in the yard or garden, weather-pending. [okay, truth be told, usually shaun does all things plant-related...  our poor house plants get pretty neglected sometimes. but we all have areas that need improvement, right?] fridays, shaun & i aim to use as date night as many weeks in the year as we can. after all, everyone needs a day off to just enjoy life!

of all my day routines, i rarely skip thursdays as errand day. it's fun to get check things off as done. i come home with parcels to unpack. plus, what girl doesn't love spending money, even if it is just on groceries? i also usually take one thursday a month to swing by a favorite thrift store in town!

these routines have been fundamental to casa maintenance [& our sanity]. if you could use an injection of routine in your life, i hope you'll check back every tuesday as i share more about my clean routine. i'll be posting my weekly chores routine, my deep clean zones routines, desk routine, & more. these ideas are what work for me, but they can be modified to fit your needs, too!

Monday, January 9

menu plan monday v.2.2

we really enjoyed the recipes from last week, especially the bean & bacon soup [which i modified & put up over at the cafe]. we're still on track with the monthly menu, so here's what's up for this week:

monday - pomegranate hazelnut salad
tuesday - pot stickers, stir-fry veggies, & braised cabbage
wednesday - turkey-cranberry monte cristos
thursday - pot roast with carrots & potatoes, carmelized brussel sprouts
friday - chicken souvlaki with tzatziki, greek salad
saturday - pasta with peas & pancetta
sunday - @ life group

baking - baklava muffins [for dessert friday night!]

another great place to find lots of menus & recipes is over at the organizing junkie blog -- i link up there every week.

well, i'm now hungry after typing all that up, so i'm headed to the casteel cafe for some good eats!


Sunday, January 8

happy birthday to zorra!

shaun & i have tons of kids, but none of them live with us, except three adorable furry ones! [the rest of our kids are usually already in their teens - or now college, *sniff* - & don't live with us!]

our youngest furry child is zorra. it's hard to believe she's three today! [actually, we're not 100% sure what her birthday is because she was born in the barn on shaun's family farm, but we know they had three brand-new puppies before we came to lafayette on january 12th for shaun's interview at purdue. the eighth sounds good to us!]

she was a rolly-polly wiggly-piggly when we first met her in april 2009...

[it was hard getting pictures of her on the ground b/c she never stopped moving!]

["mmm, dees guy tastes yummy!"]

["dees hair not too bad eedder"]

["on my way to new home!"]

it didn't take long for her to start stretching out & her ears to stand up, or for her to get used to a spoiled life...

[may 2009]

["my bawl ees de best ting eever!"]

["wellll, acshully, my daddy de best ting eever!"]

we shortly after moved to lafayette, where zorra loves the room to run [inside & outside!], & she's become even more spoiled...

[grainy from iphone, but look at that spoiled pup!]

[sleeping on the bed with seester boo-boo]

[loving the snow!]

we've never "celebrated" a pet birthday before, but this year, i thought it would be nice to do something special for zorra. so, i made peanut butter dog biscuits! i found the recipe via pinterest [where else?!], & they were super easy & quick to make. i didn't have a bone-shaped cookie cutter, so i used a squirrel for her special birthday biscuits & a fluted circle for the rest. ["squirrel!" in honor of the disney/pixar movie "up" -- a must see.]

[the birthday girl & her three squirrel cookies for being three years old!]

[a happy girl!]

yep, she's spoiled rotten! but she's seriously the best dog in the world, & the casa just wouldn't be the same without her! 

Saturday, January 7

goal-setting: why i hate resolutions

i know we're already a week into the new year... wow, how time has flown! i'm sure many of you have your resolutions already set for the coming twelve months, but i'd still like to talk about resolutions, why you shouldn't have them, & why goals are better! if you already have resolutions, maybe you'll be inspired into turning them into goals. if you don't have resolutions, maybe you'll be inspired to set some goals instead.

i used to set resolutions like anyone else, & i used to break them before the first week was out. my personality is kinda all-or-nothing, gallop-or-stop, A+-or-fail. so, i would set lofty resolutions for being a perfect, new danae. i'm also a perfectionist, a dreamer, & not known for moderation in anything. nor am i known for self-discipline or follow-through... so, you can imagine the cycle of self-defeat that i set up for myself, & i'm sure i'm not the only one who has experienced it. in fact, i think it's the widespread norm to set resolutions that you break before the month of january is over. it's why we have jokes about our only resolution being to not set resolutions.

well, back in 2005, i decided to take a different approach. while i have many failings in being lazy & unrealistic, i do have an insatiable desire to improve myself. i'm not okay with status quo, & i never want to be okay with it. i started thinking about what was wrong with my resolutions that made them fail.

1. they were unrealistic about what i could accomplish in a set amount of time.
2. they were unrealistic about how much effort it would take me to change something about myself.
3. they were unrealistic about my ability to be perfect from day one, january 1st.

first of all & most importantly, i decided to change my perspective about point #3. i decided to create goals instead of resolutions.

these words may seem like synonyms, i know. but they aren't. a goal is "the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end." a resolution is "determining upon an action or course of action, method, procedure, etc." a goal is something you work toward, the desired end product. resolution is something you use to do the work. when we make resolutions, the connotation is that we must be perfect from day one. when we make goals, the expectation is to be better, closer, or have achieved something in the end. this allows for mistakes, for the difficult process of change, for progress, for falling off the band-wagon & getting back on.

i set 12 goals for myself every year, & i generally deem myself successful if i was better at that action or closer to the desired result on december 31st than i was on january 1st. if i set a goal to exercise five times a week, i don't feel like a failure if i don't do this in the first month. it gives me the chance to improve with time. working out one time a week in january is a successful step toward my goal as long as over time it leads to working out five times a week sometime before december. if this had been a resolution & i only worked out one time per week in january, i would have been back on the couch in self-defeat before you could say happy groundhog's day!

maybe this sounds like nothing more than a change in terminology, but it's bigger than that. it's a change in mental attitude, in approach, & in my case, a change in success.

i don't think i've EVER accomplished a single resolution in my life. but i have accomplished lots of goals over the past 6 years. i rarely accomplish all 12, & i'm semi-okay with that. [another goal i have is to accomplish more goals this year than i did last year.]

a change in perspective & approach was critical for me, but i recognize that we still need more than that to get anything done. in the coming weeks, i'll also share how to break goals down into actions, schedule check-ins throughout the year, & various tools that may help you accomplish your goals, too.

so happy new year, & may december 31st find us better versions of ourselves than we are today!

Friday, January 6

feature friday: the casa exterior

back to our weekly feature fridays! since i left everyone hanging about the final color of the casa in the house painting saga from over two months ago, it's time i show you what the current facade looks like.

but because i like a teaser, let's start with pics from back in the day! since my mac died, i don't have many of my own pictures, unless they're already posted on this blog. these pictures were taken by my momma when they visited in march 2010.

[southwest-ish view of the front]

[southeast view of the front]

[view of the back]

and now for the casa's current look:

[southwest-ish view of the front]

[the contrast of the doors, trim, & siding]

[the southeast view of the front]

[the side profile from down the hill]

doesn't she have beautiful lines? i love the east view with the gambrel roof [that's the fancy name for the roofs traditionally associated with barns]. i love the brick. i love the black shutters. i love the garage doors [which we had replaced in may 2010]. i love the cute front porch in front of the den. i love the iron storm doors. i love that this is home

i'm probably just biased because it is home to me, & don't get me wrong: i don't put too much stock in it. for one, we never know what the future holds -- a fire, a move, a loss? but more importantly, this world & all that's in it is not my true home. in the words of the old hymn: "i'm just a-passin' through!"

anyways, what do ya'll think?

well, it's certainly better than this:

[first paint color - october 2011]

[muuuuuuch better!]

but yep, it's still pretty orange... in certain lights, we really like it, but when the full southern sun hits it, it's alot to take in. i do love the trim color. it's behr's stealth jet, but i call it "riverbottom" because it reminds me of the muddy charcoal gray silt found in area rivers. it's not black, but it reads similarly, so it goes with the shutters & iron storm doors, yet it's not too stark of a contrast against the siding.

this will be the face of the casa for a few more months, but come spring, we're heading back to the drawing board [& the paint store] to find a better color for all times of day! we hate pouring out more money for this project, but in the end, it's the front of the casa, & we want it to look nice. we feel like we did everything possible to pick the right color this go around -- we picked out test colors [& more test colors] & lived with them for weeks; we viewed them at all times of day; we used color software to simulate options; we bought the best pick [so we thought]; we custom tinted the paint when it turned out too bright; we chose a trim color to help "mute" it... & we are pleased with all these steps, but we still aren't sold on the color.

sometimes, lessons are learned the hard way. after all, neither of us has ever painted the exterior of a house before. but it's all part & parcel of owning a house & making it feel like home.