Eppli Cakka Recipe

Eppli cakka, a simple Faroese dessert or breakfast!

One of my very favorite fall traditions is making applesauce with my mom and sisters… and now with my own kiddos. I love the tart sweet smell of apples baking and bowls of fresh sauce sprinkled with cinnamon.

But one of my very favorite uses for applesauce (homemade or not) is Eppli Cakka. It’s a simple Faroese dessert that’s healthy enough we sometimes eat it for breakfast. The original calls for a type of sweetened breadcrumbs that we haven’t found in the U.S., but granola makes a perfect substitute.

Eppli Cakka Recipe

Layers of granola and applesauce

Ingredients 

Layer applesauce and granola. You can make it in a big serving dish, but I prefer serving it up individual bowls, since leftovers get soggy and I despise soggy food.

Eppli cakka with cream on top

Top with cream and garnish with chocolate shavings.

For variety, add peeled diced apples in between the applesauce and granola layers. So simple, but so yummy!

This simple Scandinavian dessert pairs applesauce and granola for a healthy treat!

Rosemary Salmon Baked in Foil

Savory rosemary salmon baked in foil for a super fast and healthy meal. (Frozen fillets work great, making it more affordable too!)

This meal has saved us from a last minute pizza run countless times. It’s my go-to friend on busy days when I don’t really feel like cooking, and am about to call Josh and see if he’ll pick up pizza on his way home.

Trouble is, I don’t really like pizza and especially don’t like how unhealthy it is. But I love this salmon recipe and it’s super easy to throw in the oven, crazy healthy, and (if you keep frozen fillets from Aldi in the freezer at all times) cheaper than pizza.

It’s also simple to dress up for company or to take to a friend who could use a meal.
Super simple salmon recipe with consistently flaky and juicy results.

Often I’ll just do salmon and onions, but a medley of fresh vegetables makes it extra delicious. 

Rosemary Salmon Baked in Foil

Ingredients

  • 4-6 Salmon fillets (frozen and thawed works great!)
  • 4 T olive oil
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • Salt & pepper
  • 4-6 sprigs rosemary, optional
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 onions, thinly sliced
  • Other vegetables, optional (mushrooms, squash, potatoes, etc.)

Salmon and veggies baked in foil. So easy and SO delicious!

I’ve tried making individual fillets of salmon baked in foil, but when you’re serving six, this is WAY faster and you still get the juicy results. 

Instructions

Thaw salmon according to instructions, if frozen.

Mix together the oil, lemon juice, rosemary, and garlic. Salt and pepper the mixture to taste. Add salmon (after taste testing, of course!) and let marinate in the fridge for 1 to 4 hours. If you’re in a hurry (like I often am), skip the marinating.

Thinly slice the onions and place them on the bottom of a Pyrex pan. Salt generously.

If adding other vegetables, wash and chop them. Toss them in with the salmon to coat with oil. Arrange the salmon (and veggies) over the onions. Drizzle any extra oil on top.

Cover tightly with foil. Bake at 400° for 15-25 minutes (depending on the thickness of the fillet), or until the fish flakes easily. The foil keeps in the moisture and helps make the salmon juicy and flavorful.

It goes well with rice or sweet potato hash browns and salad, but is very versatile.

Delicious and healthy, this rosemary salmon is baked in foil for quick clean up and consistently juicy salmon.

5 Helpful Habits for Peaceful Homemaking

Back when Josh was studying crazy long hours in school, I slipped into a horrible homemaking habit. After caring for the kids and working my online job during the day, the last thing I felt like doing after dinner was cleaning up the kitchen.

It's amazing what a difference a few simple habits can make!

So, after dinner, we laid the kids down and then I spent “a few minutes” relaxing with my laptop, while Josh studied. The trouble was, all the time I had this nagging feeling that I ought to have cleaned up the kitchen first. But I really didn’t want to. So the minutes slipped past far faster than I thought possible and before I knew it I’d wasted an hour online while the dishes crusted over. Follow me over to Young Wife’s Guide to read the rest. 

Balancing a Homemade Lifestyle

Balancing a homemade lifestyle with our busy modern livesRecently we read Laura Ingall Wilder’s “Farmer Boy” aloud as a family. No matter how productive of a day I’d had, it seemed lazy in comparison. The Wilders made 90% of their food, clothing, and shelter from scratch. They regularly worked from before dawn till past dusk, with only a handful of holidays throughout the year. A day spent blueberry picking counted as “vacation.”

Their story paints a striking contrast to the typical modern lifestyle of consumerism and constant media distractions. Thankfully, a refreshing change is beginning to tackle our culture’s deep-seated consumerism. There is a growing trend toward a more homemade lifestyle.

Many reasons exist: homemade foods are usually tastier, healthier, and more affordable than their store-bought alternatives. Homemade products generally save money and are more healthy.

But even though we’re blessed with so many modern conveniences that Laura didn’t enjoy, her stories highlight an important point about the homemade lifestyle: making things from scratch takes a lot of time and effort….

Follow me over to the Young Wife’s Guide to read the rest

A (Mostly) Clean Home in 20 Minutes a Day

Ever since beginning the daily cleaning challenge, something wonderful has happened. Rather than facing the weekend with a long list of cleaning chores and not enough energy to tackle them, my home has stayed mostly clean most of the time.

You may not be able to run a white glove over all the surfaces, but since I’m homeschooling and running a home with four littles without the help of a cook, maid, or nanny, I’m okay with that. The floors, bathrooms, windows, and once-dusty shelves are getting adequate attention, without domineering my time.

In just 20 minutes a day you can keep your home (mostly) clean by keeping on top of daily stuff, making a list, enlisting the kids, using quality micro-fiber, and setting a timer for 20 minute of focused time.

Cleaning can get overwhelming SO quickly, especially in a home full of sweet littles. But by doing just 20 minutes of focused cleaning a day, you can enjoy a (mostly) clean home every day.

(Full disclosure: links to products in this post are my referral links.)

A mostly clean home in 20 minutes a day

Keep up with daily stuff

My first housewifely goal is to keep up with the daily stuff. These are the things that aren’t part of my 20 minute cleaning regimen. Things like dishes and sweeping the kitchen crumbs. Several years ago I started forcing myself to clean up the kitchen after dinner before picking up a book, relaxing with my laptop, or anything else. Ending (and therefore starting) the day with a clean kitchen makes a world of difference.

Now on to the actual twenty minutes of cleaning…

Make a list before you start

It’s amazing what you can get done in just twenty minutes with a bit of focused energy. Start by jotting down the most pressing cleaning items. Today my list is:

  • Wipe down main bathroom (it’s tiny and easy)
  • Wipe down sinks & toilet in master bathroom
  • Vacuum under the stairs (it is the kids’ playhouse and is covered in cookie crumbs from a fun weekend.)
  • Sweep study floor

Tomorrow I might vacuum the bedrooms and wipe down walls and door frames, which seem to attract grime like mud attracts toddlers. After several days of tackling glaring dirt, I often have a chance to do something less pressing, but still important, like wipe down the fridge or the outside of appliances.

Get the kids involved (or occupied)

One of the chief problems I faced with my once-a-week cleaning day is that it required my children to let me clean for two to four hours. Since I was usually interrupted every few minutes, those hours multiplied fast.

Twenty minutes is (mostly) doable. Rose and Will each have assigned afternoon chores of vacuuming or sweeping. If Meg and Ned aren’t busily occupied with Duplos or books, I can hand them a rag and have them wipe down baseboards. It won’t keep them happy for an hour, but it will let me have a few minutes to focus.
Don't wait to clean until it's overwhelming!  In just 20 minutes a day, you can have a (mostly) clean home all the time.

Use quality micro-fiber

After being disappointed with several cheap micro-fiber cloths, I was a huge skeptic. But my friend Melissa convinced me to give these high-quality microfiber cleaning cloths a try. I am hooked.

Instead of smearing smudges around on my front window and looking at it from multiple angles multiple times trying to get the streaks out, I just wipe down the window, rub a polishing cloth over it and am done in two minute. Instead of lugging around all my natural (and expensive) cleaners, I just use my cloth and water, and my house has never been so clean in such little time. (Only I can’t get myself to not use cleaners for my toilet. It’s a mental thing.)

Investing in high-quality microfiber has easily shaved 20%-50% of the time and effort from every cleaning job I’ve used them on.

Set a timer

There’s something stimulating about racing the time. About seeing the minutes tick down to zero. It motivates me and keeps me focused. I know that once that timer rings, my cleaning time for the day is done. That knowledge helps me stay on track and attack jobs I may not love quickly.

If I know there’s a bigger project I’d like to tackle (like the fridge), I try to save it for Saturday and give myself 40 minutes to get it done. Then, on Sunday, I take the day off, because God made the day of rest even for busy moms!

Stop and enjoy

Once the timer rings, I put away my cleaning cloths and hang up my cleaning bonnet. (I don’t actually have a cleaning bonnet, but the image is nice and Poppins-ish, isn’t it?)

Sometimes my list is a bit too ambitious and I don’t get to all of it. Sometimes I notice that I really ought to have added the kids’ shower to my cleaning list. The wonderful thing about devoting just 20 minutes a day to cleaning is that if I don’t have time to finish something today, I can still stop because I know I’ll have 20 more minutes tomorrow.!

Keep your home (mostly) clean in just 20 minutes a day

A clean home doesn’t have to be a distant memory of life before littles. With just a bit of concentrated effort each day, we can each enjoy (mostly) clean homes every single day.

Fruit Juice Jello

A few weeks ago I attended an excellent meeting on gut health. The speaker encouraged us to include more bone broth into our diets because the gelatin from bone broth helps heal and protect the lining of the gut.

Though her arguments were quite compelling, I had a problem: it’s getting hot here. The last thing I feel like making for dinner every night is soup. Thankfully, there are two summer-friendly ways to get more of the gelatin from broth into our diet: cook foods like rice or lentils in bone broth and eat fruit juice jello.

Homemade fruit juice jello only takes two simple ingredients and is a great kid-approved way to include more gelatin in your diet.

Homemade jello is by far the most kid-approved method, at least at our home. Plus, it’s so simple that I taught Rose (almost eight) how to make it because she’s been begging for more independence in the kitchen. (I just stay close by and oversee since there’s a stove involved!)

Fruit juice jello recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 cups fruit juice
  • 4 Tbsp. unflavored gelatin (Use less if you want a runnier consistency, more if you want it extra firm.)
  • Added nutrients, optional. You can add herbal extract, vitamin C powder, etc. I try to add just enough so that it doesn’t affect the taste.

(We love this grass-fed beef gelatin. If you can get a group of friends to buy with you, it’s much cheaper by the case!)

You can use just about any flavor of juice. I buy frozen concentrate which lets me control the sweetness. We’ve made apple, kiwi, raspberry apple, white grape and pineapple fruit juice jello. The kids loved all of them.

Transform a childhood favorite into a high-protein, gut-friendly treat!!

Instructions

  1. Pour one cup of cold juice into a heat-proof mixing bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin on top of it and let is sit.
  2. Bring the three remaining cups of juice to a boil.
  3. Pour the hot juice into the gelatinous glob.
  4. Stir until completely dissolved, about two minutes.
  5. Pour into a 9×13 pan and refrigerate. It should be solid in 8 to 12 hours.

Once it has gelled, cut into squares and serve. Fruit juice jello makes the perfect dessert or snack on warm spring and summer days!

Once you’ve started playing with unflavored jello, the possibilities are endless. My friend Amanda makes herbal vitamin C jello and Elise from Frugal Farm Wife makes gummy treats with kefir water.

Do your kids love jello? Have you ever made your own?

Weekly Breakfast Menu

“Goodnight Mama. I love you! What’s for breakfast in the morning?” Almost every night, one of the children asks for the breakfast menu as I tuck them into bed.

Since breakfast is such an important meal, I try to make sure that it is sustaining and (mostly) healthy without spending all morning in the kitchen. After fielding the breakfast question for the 873rd time, I decided it was time to sit down and put a weekly menu on paper.

Not only will a healthy breakfast menu help me answer their question easily, it will help my foggy morning brain!

Weekly breakfast menu

Hootenanny-- a breakfast favorite!

Hootenanny hot from the oven! 

Sunday: hootenanny

Almost every single week, Joshua lets me sleep in while he makes up a big batch of delicious hootenanny. The outside is always the best, so he had the brilliant idea of baking the hootenanny in (non-stick!) muffin tins. Deliciousness! Topped with real maple syrup and lightly dusted with powdered sugar, it makes a lovely Sunday breakfast.

Yogurt and granola: a simple, healthy breakfast

Homemade yogurt topped with homemade granola

Monday: yogurt & granola or oatmeal

I don’t know what Mondays are like at your place, but if there’s any chance of starting the week out on a good footing, I need something easy and sustaining for breakfast. Homemade yogurt topped with homemade granola fits the bill.

Cooked oatmeal or cooked seven-grain cereal are also good options. (My silly kids ask for sugar on their Lucky Charms, but also love soaked seven-grain “cereal.” I have yet to figure out their wacky tastebuds.)

Easy, delicious, freezer-friendly breakfast burritos!

Freezer-friendly breakfast burritos

Tuesday: breakfast burritos

On Tuesday, we have our weekly classical academy which means we ought to be out the door at 8:00. Which is not when we are usually ready to walk out the door. Freezing a big batch of breakfast burritos for Tuesday mornings has made getting out the door much less hectic. Plus, they are yummy and filling!

Mocha muffins with a fruit and yogurt shake

Hot mocha muffins with fruit-sweetened homemade yogurt shakes 

Wednesday: muffins with yogurt shakes

Every few weeks, I make up a big batch of muffins (mocha muffins are our favorite!) to freeze. Served with a homemade yogurt shake, they make a delicious healthy breakfast.

Thursday is "official" cereal day at our home!

I don’t for a moment consider this healthy, but at least Aldi used purple carrot extract as a food coloring. Just one more reason why I love Aldi

Thursday: Cereal Day

Thursday is official cereal day at our place. Yep, it’s even marked on Rose’s calendar. You see, the kids love cereal. I don’t. I think it’s way overpriced, generally unhealthy, and totally not filling. As a compromise, I told them they could have cereal every Thursday morning… after they eat a bowl of oatmeal. (If all they eat is cereal, it only takes about 27 minutes for them to start complaining that they are starving.)

Friday: eggs & toast

Even through the winter, our little flock of chickens has been faithfully providing us with beautiful fresh brown eggs, which makes serving eggs and toast way more fun!

(My little sis Bekka accidentally stumbled on the secret to perfect scrambled eggs: butter. When the eggs are almost finished cooking, add a dab of butter and let it melt over the eggs. Butter makes everything better.)

Pancakes

(These buckwheat pancakes make a good gluten-free variety!)

Saturday: waffles or pancakes

Homemade waffles or pancakes have been a Saturday morning tradition for as long as I can remember. They are a perfect for a nice leisurely breakfast.

A good breakfast can make a world of difference in a day! Here's our simple, varied and (mostly) healthy breakfast menu.

Our (mostly) healthy breakfast menu

On special occasions we substitute a fancier breakfast option. Crepes are always my children’s breakfast of choice, Joshua loves biscuits and gravy, and traditional Faroese smorkaka is my favorite.

The rest of the time, having a weekly healthy breakfast menu will help me avoid morning stress while feeding the family a healthy, varied breakfast.

What are your favorite breakfast foods? Do you have a set breakfast menu?

20 Items Worth Buying in Bulk

A while ago I stood in the store, wavering between a “bulk” and normal-sized package. While trying to decide if I could use up the bulk package quickly enough, my eyes zeroed in on the price per ounce. That instantly settled the question. The bulk package was quite a bit more expensive, per ounce, than the regular!

Buying in bulk isn’t always a bargain. Sometimes you end up paying more, just for the bulk packaging.

And of course, buying in bulk isn’t worth it if the package is just going to sit in the back of the cupboard and invite weevils, ants, or other pests into your kitchen. (Or meet a less dramatic end and simply expire.)

There are two important questions to ask before making bulk purchases: “Do we use this often enough that it won’t go bad?” and “Does it actually save enough to buy it in bulk?”

Since Aldi is my favorite store, a bulk purchase needs to beat Aldi, either in quality or price… and be one that I use enough of to avoid a dismal fate at the back of the cupboard.

These are 20 items that are worth it for me to buy in bulk.

Buying in bulk can save big... or cost you big. These 20 items are ones that we use regularly and that cost WAY less to buy in bulk.

[Links to some products in this post are my referral links.]  photo credit 

20 Items Worth Buying in Bulk

1. Oatmeal

Oatmeal is a family staple and ordering in bulk saves so much. We order 50# bags from our co-op (if you are in their route, I highly recommend CLNF!) We eat oatmeal for breakfast once a week and use it to make granola, energy bites, protein bars and much more.

2. Grains

One of my very favorite kitchen tools ever is my grain mill. It’s an investment, but if you love baking with fresh wheat or other grains it is totally worth the cost! I order chemical-free white wheat and other grains from CLNF for making fresh bread, muffins, waffles, pancakes, and much more.

3. Flax seeds

Flax seeds are a great source of fiber and make a good egg-replacement in baked goods. Now that we have our own chickens, I don’t run out of eggs nearly as often as I used to, but it’s awfully handy to have on hand when I do. I also add flax to healthy snacks like energy bites and protein bars.  (From CLNF)

4. Organic raisin

Since raisins are so heavily sprayed with pesticides, buying organic raisins was worth it to me, especially since I can buy them in bulk from CLNF for not too much more, per pound, as regular raisins from Aldi. {They have raised their prices quite a bit since last time I ordered. But for me it’s still worth it.}

5. Coconut Oil/ Coconut Chips

We go through a LOT of coconut oil. Prices vary considerably depending on the quality, but I’ve ordered it by the gallon from Tropical TraditionsSoaper’s Choice, and CLNF.

We also buy shredded coconut and coconut chips in bulk from CLNF. It’s delicious in granolaenergy bites, protein bars, and cookies. Plus, I use it to make my own coconut milk.

6. Olive oil

I don’t buy enough items at Sam’s to make it worth buying a pass (and we don’t have a local Costco), but they usually offer two weekends a year when you can shop without a pass. So, I try to stock up on the few items that I find worth getting those days. Olive oil is one of them. Thankfully, it stays good for over six months.

7. Raw nuts

Despite what the expiration date may say, nuts sometimes go rancid. I stock up on almonds, pecans, and walnuts on my twice-yearly trip to Sam’s and store extra bags in the freezer.

8. Cheese

We are really blessed to have a family member who works at a cheese plant and sometimes picks up extra cheese for us. Other times my sweet mom picks some up from Sam’s for me. I buy the blocks, shred and freeze it.

9. Raw Honey

Whenever possible, we order straight from a local bee keeper. Due to the honeybee problems, sometimes that isn’t possible and honey is another bulk Sam’s purchase.

10. Maple syrup

Real maple syrup is amazing. And expensive. And worth it to me (since most regular syrup is mainly corn syrup and food coloring!) We order by the gallon, straight from the producers, which helps cut down on the cost… and usually ensures that we don’t have hot hootenanny ready to eat, but no syrup to put on it.

11. Vinegar

Good for things as diverse as ear infections and a hair rinse, vinegar gets used up quickly. We buy it by the gallon.

12. Yeast

Buying packets of yeast is WAY more expensive than buying in bulk. Personally, I prefer SAF yeast, which I order from Amazon. Once opened, I store yeast in the freezer and have never had it lose its potency. (One of my goals for the year is to learn to make amazing sourdough bread that doesn’t need purchased years. I still have a long way to go though!)

13. Frequently-used herbs

If you drink a lot of herbal tea or make your own herbal remedies, buying herbs in bulk makes sense. Most herbs will stay fresh for at least a year if you store them in air-tight glass jars in a dark cupboard. I get this delicious peppermint tea plus herbs for making tinctures and DIY salves in bulk.

14. Coffee

Joshua’s parents are amazing at finding local deals on bulk purchases. Thanks to them, we get good quality freshly-roasted coffee beans in bulk from a local coffee company. If you go through a lot of coffee, check to see if your local coffee shop sells bulk beans. We save at least 30% on good quality coffee by buying in bulk. (We grind it ourselves, so it still tastes fresh every morning.)

15. Chicken & beef

Often, if you can trace the meat to its source distributor, you can get great deals on bulk purchases to store in the freezer.

16. Local, in-season produce

If you like putting up your own foods like applesauce or salsa (and haven’t managed to grow your own apples or tomatoes), buying produce by the bushel from local farmers can really save!

17. Diapers & Wipes

I do not coupon, so maybe I don’t get the best deal ever, but love Subscribe & Save with Amazon Mom. 15% off and diapers delivered straight to my front door works for me!

Same goes for wet wipes.  (I’m super picky and way prefer Huggies Fragrance-Free!)

18. Toilet paper

Another Subscribe & Save bulk purchase which I’m happy not to try to squeeze into a shopping cart that is already holding two or three kids!

19. Personal products

About half of the personal products we use are worth getting in bulk. Things like shampoo and castile soap for making natural DIY foaming soap.

20. Vodka

Yes, vodka. The cheap kind. Not for drinking, but for all sorts of DIY projects, like homemade vanilla extract and DIY herbal tinctures.

Buying in bulk can save you hundreds of dollars... but it can also lose you lots of money. Here are 20 smart bulk purchases.  photo credit 

Buying in Bulk

Buying in bulk can either save or waste a lot of money. Even if the 20 pounds of millet flour seems like a great deal, if it just sits in the pantry and goes bad, it’s not such a great deal after all.

But by only purchasing items we regularly use and making sure that the cost per pound is actually lower, we save hundreds of dollars a year on our food purchases by buying in bulk.

I’m really curious. What things do you think are worth buying in bulk? 

Hearty Breakfast Burritos

Looking for a hearty breakfast that you can grab and go? Breakfast burritos are a perfect choice. They are yummy, filling, and easy to eat in the van.

Plus, there are so many different fillings you can add to keep them interesting: eggs, sausage, bacon bits, different kinds of cheese, hash browns, sautéed onions and peppers, mushrooms, salsa…. The variations are practically endless.

Whip up a big batch and freeze them for busy mornings.

Breakfast burritos are a perfect choice for busy mornings. Whip up a big batch and freeze them for days that start out crazy.

Hearty Breakfast Burritos

Ingredients

Makes 24 breakfast burritos

  • 24 tortillas (Normally, I make homemade tortillas because we love them so much. Homemade tortillas don’t freeze well though, so for breakfast burritos I buy tortillas.)
  • 2 1/2  dozen eggs
  • Shredded cheese
  • Sausage, optional
  • Sautéed onions, optional
  • Whatever other toppings you want!

You’ll also need a big frying pan or skillet, freezer bags, and foil (if you want them individually wrapped.)

Instructions

  1. Scramble the eggs and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Fry other toppings, if necessary.
  3. Form an assembly line with the eggs, cheese, and favorite toppings.
  4. Scoop a little of each one onto each tortilla.
  5. Fold in both ends of the tortilla, then it roll up. Wet your finger and rub it across the outer flap of the tortilla to help it stick better when you fold it.
  6. Individually wrap each breakfast burrito, if desired. (Normally I do about half individually wrapped. It makes it easier to pull out in the evening and stick in the fridge for Joshua if he needs to leave before I get up.)
  7. Store in freezer bags.
  8. If you know you are going to have a busy morning, pull breakfast burritos out the night before and let them thaw in the refrigerator. Otherwise, just pop them in the microwave or oven and heat till hot.

Breakfast burritos are just perfect for busy mornings: yummy, filling, and easy to freeze ahead!

Breakfast burritos for busy mornings

Having a freezer stocked with breakfast burritos has rescued my morning so many times! Whip up a big batch and have a handy, hearty breakfast when your mornings are just too busy.

New Habit: Clean for 20 Minutes a Day

You know the sinking feeling when the bathrooms desperately need attention, the kitchen floor has fancy mud tracks all over it, you can draw pictures in the dust on the bookshelves, and you wonder where to even start? Well, hopefully you don’t know the feeling. It’s not very fun.

Every time I let the cleaning pile up till it gets overwhelming, I think why oh why didn’t I just spend 20 minutes a day staying on top of this? And then life gets busy and I slip right back to letting the cleaning pile up.

Lately I've not been very great at keeping my home clean. Actually, I've been pretty terrible. So I'm working on developing a new habit: to spend 20 minutes of devoted time cleaning every single day.

New Habit: Clean for 20 Minutes a Day

The last two months I have focused on developing a very simple, but incredibly helpful, habit: get dressed before breakfast. As I have thought about what new habit would make the most difference in my life and home, cleaning kept popping into my mind.

I’m not positive, but I have this grand hope that if I spend just 20 minutes of entirely-devoted time cleaning my home every day except Sunday, that my home just might stay (mostly) clean. That I’ll never again be overwhelmed by a long list of cleaning desperately clamoring for attention. (At one point in time—back before four little children and homeschooling, I was able to tackle it all on one day without feeling totally exhausted. Now, it’s just not working!)

So for the next two months I plan to focus on developing the habit of spending 20 minutes of focused time cleaning my home daily.

This doesn’t include everyday jobs like cleaning up after meals, general tidying, or taming the laundry monster. It also doesn’t include deep cleaning projects. These 20 minutes are just for things that ought to get done every week, but often don’t. Things like:

My plan is to make a list of the most pressing projects for each day, set a timer for 20 minutes, and attack the cleaning with a vengeance. Whatever I can’t finish, I’ll tackle the next day.

As Ann Voskamp so beautifully pointed out, “Cleanliness isn’t next to godliness, love is.” The dirt will always be waiting for me, my children won’t. I want my children’s memories to be full of laughter and happy times together, even if the house isn’t always immaculate. (Hah!)

But I also want them to see me being faithful in my responsibilities, including my responsibility to keep our home reasonably clean. I want to encourage them, by example, to be more faithful with their afternoon chores too. So during this 20 minutes, while I tackle my cleaning, they will be working alongside me with their own chores.

Every time I let the cleaning pile up till I'm faced with an overwhelmingly dirty home, I think "Why didn't I just work on this a little each day?!" So, that's my new habit challenge: clean for just 20 minutes every day.

My hunt for a (mostly) clean home

If your housekeeping would make Mary Poppins shudder too, would you like to join me on this experiment to devote just twenty minutes of focused time each day cleaning? If cleaning isn’t your struggle, I’d still love to have you join me in working on developing a new habit the next two months!