Ultimate Blog Party Day 2 Giveaway

Ultimate Blog Party 2011

If you’re here for the first time from the Ultimate Blog Party, welcome!  I blog regularly about faith, family, parenting, marriage, and more!  Stay around for a little while and find all the goodies on my blog.  Don’t miss the free downloads I have, too, as well as the Hearts at Home website where you’ll find even more encouragement!

Congratulations to Sarah (Naptimemomtog.com) and Crissyanna (createdforhome.net) who won yesterday’s drawing for a My Heart’s at Home book!  Thank you to all of you who entered the drawing…but even more importantly…thank you to everyone who shared how they are intentional in their mothering.  It was a great discussion yesterday and I was so inspired!

Today’s I’m giving away 3 copies of my latest book, Living With Less So Your Family Has More.  This Hearts at Home resource looks at living with stress, less activities, and less money than is culturally acceptable.  It challenges us to look more at what we gain when we downsize in some way, rather than seeing downsizing as a loss.

Alot of the living with less discussions we’ve had here on the blog have focused on living with less financially.  Today, however, I want us to share about decisions we have made to live with less stress.

Stress weighs us down, drains our energy, weakens our health, and invites us to be cranky. Stress is a distraction from the important things in life.  It robs us of the joy of mothering.

As moms, we have to be intentional about managing the stress in our lives.  We have to begin to say no, learn the art of self-care, and be intentional about proactively managing stress rather than reacting to it.

Let’s learn from each other today.  What is one change you have made to reduce stress in your life?  Or what is one strategy you use to manage stress on a regular basis?

I’ll start the discussion…One change I’ve made is learning how to say no to good opportunities so I can give those I love my best.  It’s taken some time for me to be comfortable with saying no more often than yes, but I’ve come to realize that every “yes” I say to activities outside the home is a “no” I say to my family.   Because I don’t actually utter the word “no” to my family, I didn’t realize I was initially doing this.  But in time, I’ve come to understand the reality of this.  Now I feel far less guilt when I say no because I know I’m saying yes to what’s most important!

So what about you? What is one change you have made to reduce stress in your life?  Or what is one strategy you use to manage stress on a regular basis?

Fresh Look, Fresh Words, Fresh Vision GIVEAWAY

Last Friday, I told you about Hearts at Home’s new logo and tagline. Today I want to introduce you to our brand new website! We’ve completed Phase I of our new website with a completely new look and easier navigation to find what you’re looking for. We also wanted fresh content everyday and now you’ll find these blog posts right on the front page of the Hearts at Home website!

Not only do we have our new website ready for you to explore, but we also have registration for all three of our 2011 conference events open!

To celebrate our fresh look today and the beginning of the 2011 conference registration period, today is a giveaway day. And this is a BIG giveaway.

We’re giving away:

* 2 conference registrations for the National Conference, March 11-12, Normal, IL
* 2 conference registrations for the Colorado Conference, Oct 7-8, Colorado Springs, CO
* 2 conference registrations for the Minnesota Conference, November 4-5, Rochester, MN
* 2 Conference-On-The-Go (formerly Home Conference Packets) for any of the 2011 events! (This allows you to “attend” the conference via CD’s!)

Here’s how you enter:

Go to www.hearts-at-home.org.  Click on “Events” and then pick the conference you would like to attend.  Click on the “Workshops” tab and read through all the workshops at that conference.  Choose one that would be your number one workshop choice.

Come back to www.jillsavage.org and comment on this post. (If you don’t know how to comment on a blog post, click HERE for directions.) 

And here’s how your comment needs to read to enter the giveaway:

1) Location of Conference you’d like to attend (or Conference-To-Go)
2) Name of Workshop you’d choose as your number one workshop choice
3) One thing you like about the new website
4) Your first name and email (i.e. jillannsavage (at) yahoo.com)

Comments may be submitted until 7am CT Wednesday when we’ll draw names and post the winners by 9am Wednesday.

This is one of the biggest giveaways Hearts at Home has ever offered!  I’m so excited and I hope you are too!

Marriage Monday: The Value of "Download" Time

Mark and I have been reading a book together called Your Spouse Isn’t The Person You Married: Keeping Your Love Strong Through Life’s Changes by Paul and Teri Reisser.  Today’s Marriage Monday is focused on staying connected to your spouse during the changes that life brings.

Jill says…
When I first picked up the Reisser’s book, I was fascinated by the title alone.  What does it mean that your spouse isn’t the person you married?  It didn’t take too long for me to understand what the Reisser’s provocative title meant.  Here’s an explanation in their own words:

“The person lying beside you in bed night after night, year after years, is not the same individual who stood with you at the altar on your wedding day.  Everyone changes.  Everyone’s worldview evolves because we are thinking, emotional creatures.  It’s naive and foolish to believe that the views, opinions, and values held by you or the person you married were cast in concrete on your wedding day.” (pg 32)

Mark says…
What an incredible concept, but one that many married couples don’t really comprehend…including us. While I understood the concept personally, I’d never considered the implications that it had for our marriage. 

Jill says…
The Reisser’s believe that couples need to not only have date nights where they enjoy each other’s company, but that they should also have intentional “checking in” time where they talk about what they are thinking, feeling, and discovering.  This is a weekly time to “download” your thoughts and feelings with your spouse.

Mark says…
Here’s the Reisser’s perspective in their own words,

A wise spouse understands the critical importance of creating a scheduled and protected space on the calendar for the sole agenda of allowing the other person an opporunity to put into words what is currently incubating in the heart and mind. (pg 32)

Jill says…
This is something Mark and I discovered on our own last fall when we received the gift of a portable hot tub for two months.  Each night we would sit out in the hot tub and talk and talk and talk.  This was an important part of us navigating our career transition last fall. We talked, shed tears, listened to each other’s hearts, extended forgiveness, and made plans for the future. 

We learned the value of “downloading” and we experienced a deeper intimacy in our relationship than we had in a long time. 

Mark says…
As Jill was reading parts of this book aloud to me one night we both realized that what the Reisser’s are proposing is EXACTLY what we experienced last fall. We didn’t have a name for it, but we knew it made a difference!

Jill says…
We have found that “checking in” is an extremely valuable part of our relationship.  And honestly, we try to do it even more often than once a week (more about our “checking in” strategy in next week’s Marriage Monday!).

Mark says…
We highly recommend this book.  It’s full of just the right amount of wit to keep you entertained and a great amount of wisdom to keep the intimacy alive in your marriage.

Jill says…
Here are some questions the Reisser’s suggest for “checking in” time:

1. What was the best thing that happened to you this week?

2. What was the worst thing?

3. How did I best meet your needs this week?

4. How did I least meet your needs this week? (Be careful: Don’t become defensive when you hear the answer.  Just listen!)

5. What could I have done differently in that situation that would have been more helpful for us?

6. What are you the most worried about right now?

7. Is there any way I can help you with that concern?

8. What are you feeling right now?

If you don’t have much time, the Reisser’s say that questions 6 and 7 are the most important with #7 being the absolute most important question. (pg 41)

So what about you? Have you found a way to have regular time to “download” with your spouse?  Would you consider putting some “checking in” time on your weekly calendar?

Savage Family Recipe: Banana Cake

Looking for something good to do with those bananas that are about to go bad?  This Banana Cake recipe was my grandmother’s recipe and it is soooooo good.  My kids love it and ask for it anytime the bananas on the counter are getting dark!

Savage Family Banana Cake Recipe

2-1/4 c. flour
2-1/2 t. baking powder
½ t. baking soda
½ t. salt
¼ c. sugar
½ c. Crisco
3 or 4 very ripe bananas
1 t. vanilla
2 eggs
½ c. buttermilk or sour milk (we do ½ c. milk and stir in 1 tsp of vinegar to make it sour)

Bake in greased and floured 9 x 13 pan until surface springs back gently when pressed with fingers (usually about 40 minutes—the cake may not be brown in color—it may still have a very light color to it)

Icing (this is the best part!)
1/3 c. soft butter or margarine
3-1/2 c. powdered sugar
3 or 4 Tbsp. milk
1-1/2 t vanilla
¼ t. almond extract

Blend together and frost on cooled cake.


Public Ready

Last Thursday I had the privilege of hearing professional organizer Stephanie Calahan speak.  She shared about how she and her husband have very different organizational styles.  Then she explained how they have found a middle ground of organization they can agree upon.  That’s when she shared a term that I got excited about.

She said that she and her husband agreed that their main floor would be kept “public ready,” as much as possible.  In other words she didn’t want to be horribly embarrassed if someone dropped by unexpectedly.

I loved this concept!  Mark was sitting in the audience listening as well and I leaned over to him and said, “That’s what I’ve tried to communicate to you but I didn’t have a term to describe it!  Now I have the words “public ready” to help describe what I’d like to work toward.

Stephanie went on to explain that her basement is her husband’s man cave so she has little expectation of how it is maintained.  And the upper level is their bedrooms and certainly the expectations are more relaxed there as well.

I loved this concept and I thought it was something we could introduce to our family.

When our kids were little and we had toys all over the main level, I used to keep a large basket in every room that we could quickly throw toys into at a moments notice.

These days, I fight the usual stuff that lays around with five people living under the same roof: socks tossed off while watching TV, blankets used on the couch but not put away, and school papers on the kitchen counter.  But now we have a term to describe a small vision of what I hope to achieve.

Don’t get me wrong…I’m not looking for Martha Stewart perfect.  That wouldn’t be a home.

I’m simply looking for some sense of organization that allows a friend to come in unexpectedly, sit down at my kitchen island and actually be able to put her elbows on the counter and relax as we sip a cup of tea together.

What about you?  What organization tips do you have to find some sense of “public ready” in your house?

What’s your favorite apple recipes?

Monday night I made cooked apples for dinner like my Mammaw used to make. It took me back to my childhood.  My family seemed to enjoy them as much as I did.  (I just cooked the apples with a little cinnamon, sugar, and water…it’s like lumpy applesauce!)

Tuesday night I made a caramel apple pie!  It was sooooooo good!  Everyone loved it and said it was a new family favorite!  (I just added ice cream caramel topping to an apple pie recipe filling.  I also put an oatmeal crumble topping on top of the top crust.  Mmmmm.)

I still have a couple of bushels of apples.  I need more ideas!

What are your favorite apple recipes?

Keep Moving!

So I started running last week.  That would be walking/running right now.  But I’m working toward no walking in the future. 

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with exercise.  I hate making the time for it.  I love how I feel when I’m exercising on a regular basis. 

I have more energy.  I eat better.  I fit into my clothes better. 

With my new running habit, I’m learning to love my iPod.  I stick on my headphones, crank up the worship songs, and head out for 20-30 minutes. 

Last week, however, I had to call my adult son after my run: 

  • Me: Evan when I’m running I can’t keep my iPod on the same songs.  It keeps shuffling the songs.  
  • Evan: Mom, go into “settings” and turn the “Shake to Shuffle” option off.  
  • Me: Ohhhhhhhhh.  Thank you!

What about you?  How do you find time for exercise?  What is your exercise of choice?

What I’ve Been Reading

A friend loaned me a book that I’ve been soaking in for the past month. I’ve never read a book that so accurately described the emotional realities of motherhood as Katrina Kenison’s book, The Gift of An Ordinary Day.

You won’t find this on the Christian bookstore shelves, and I don’t recommend it from a faith perspective at all, but her words from a mothering perspective are right on. In fact, I’ve never read such smooth, accurate, and heart-touching descriptions of the seasons of motherhood.

I found a You Tube video of the author reading an excerpt from her book that I want to share with you. Take a few minutes…I think you’ll be able to relate…especially if your kids are teenagers. For those of you with little ones, Katrina’s words are a reminder of how short the season of small children really is. (If you are receiving this blog post by email, you’ll need to go directly to my blog site to see the video. Click HERE to go there.)

Let me know your thoughts!