Sunday, February 7, 2016

Make Time for Your Hobbies. They're More Important Than You May Think.



Writing this post feels a bit trivial at the moment. As my own household currently battles the stomach flu and the world juggles its own load of needs and concerns, hobbies hardly seem important. It feels like there are a lot more important things we could be doing: feeding the hungry, helping the poor, comforting the lonely, encouraging the disappointed, healing the sick… I can think of many noble, and menial, things to fill my time.

But let’s face it… Hobbies are part of our lives, or at least we want them to be. When I asked on my Facebook page what people wished they had more time for, hobbies were at the top of the list. Some of the answers were: quilting, crocheting, scrapbooking, and crafting, in general.

Although we obviously want time for hobbies, our hobbies tend to live at the bottom of the list, getting attention when “everything else” gets done. Some of us may even feel guilty spending time on our hobbies when we still have tasks that we could or should accomplish.

However, I have come to realize that our hobbies
actually play an important role in our lives.
Hobbies:
  • give us a way to relax and take a break from our normal, every day responsibilities
  • still give us a sense of purpose as we accomplish something that is more fun and less pressure
  • bring variety, beauty, and newness to life, a breath of fresh air that refreshes us
  • provide a way to connect and share our interests with others
Spending time on our hobbies opens an
avenue for refreshment, purpose, and passion.

When I write or work on my blog, I feel satisfied, even if I have only spent a short while doing it. I enjoy writing, and it is one of my passions, so for me to spend time writing is for me to invest in myself and in turn, the people and products of my life.

When our hobbies exist at the bottom of our “To Do” list, if at all, they appear merely as a dream or a hope of “some day”.

However, if we really see that hobbies can be an important part of our lives and have a desire to better establish them, why not make some goals for ourselves?

Teri Maxwell, author of Managers of Their Homes, sewed for a half hour every afternoon during the week. This amount of sewing led to “four jumpers, two culotte jumpers, two vests, two baby outfits, one skirt, putting ruffles on ten baby outfits, plus mending projects” over the course of eight months. She said in her book, “For me, the slow, steady progress and accomplishment is better than not sewing at all. If I did not have this half-hour set aside for sewing, I would not get around to it. Other urgent things would fill this time space. So at 1:30 p.m., I am busy. I do not plan other activities during this time. It is reserved for sewing.”

Jessica N. Turner, in her book Fringe Hours, encourages women to use the spaces of time – waiting for appointments and practices and the like - that are already in our days to make time for ourselves and our passions.

How can we make time for our hobbies?
- Schedule small amounts of time, a few times a week or each day
- Schedule one time slot per week, i.e. Saturday mornings from 10 to 12 when your husband can watch the kids.
- Use the fringe hours of your days – when you’re waiting at a child’s music or athletic practice, traveling somewhere as a passenger, etc.
- Strive to work on your hobby for a certain amount of time each day, week, month or year.

Remember: Something is better than nothing!
And if you make a goal,
at least you are striving for something.

Not sure what to pursue for a hobby? Consider these:

  • Photography
  • Scrapbooking
  • Cooking/Baking
  • Card-making
  • Sports/Outdoor Activities
  • Writing/Blogging
  • Crocheting
  • Quilting/Sewing
  • Reading
  • Painting
  • Playing a Musical Instrument

Think about your heart’s passion and interest
and make a goal to pursue the things
that enrich your daily life.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Fast Transcripts–Review: Create Homeschooling Transcripts Easily and Professionally



My oldest son is in high school, and I wanted a good product for making his transcript, something that would be easy to use and produce a high quality result. We are members of HSLDA, and I had seen an ad for their “Fast Transcripts”.  Sure enough, I tried it, and I loved it.

Within a short chunk of time, I was able to create a transcript for my son, by entering his information and data fairly simply. “Fast Transcripts” was easy to use and clearly laid out.

With little effort, at a very reasonable price, you can make a professional transcript that you and your students will be proud of!

Fast Transcripts enables you to track your high schooler’s courses via online record keeping, and then helps you produce an official transcript with an auto-calculation feature for determining yearly and cumulative GPAs.

You even have the option of having your final transcript printed on watermark protected, academic record stock!
~From the “Fast Transcripts” web site

“Fast Transcripts” is $12 for HSLDA members and $16 for non-members – a certainly affordable price for a product well-worth your money!


For more information about “Fast Transcripts”, check out their web site. You can even get a 30 day free trial to see if you like the product.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Make Time for God



In my last post, I encouraged you to make time for things that you don’t think you have time for, or things you need to have time for! Hopefully you have started to, at least, think about how you can make more time in life for some things.

One thing (person) you need to have time for is God!

Are you making time for Him? Are you setting aside time each day to pray, to read and meditate on His Word, to just be still and know that He is God?

It’s so easy to be caught up with living, to be caught up with the urgent things of life. When I wake up in the morning, my mind races. I think about what I am making for breakfast, the coffee and lunch I need to make for my husband, the long To Do list that awaits me… My mind is very active in the morning. It takes discipline for me to turn it off and just sit and direct it towards my Father.

In Luke 10:42, in the familiar story of Martha and Mary, Jesus said:
But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.

Each day we, too, have a choice to make:
to choose to sit with God and hear from Him,
to offer our hearts before Him,
to learn from Him,to surrender to Him,
and to have our minds, hearts, and souls refreshed by Him.

It will not just happen. We have to force ourselves to sit, to open our Bibles, to pray, and to be quiet. It is our job to MAKE TIME for God.

The other day a friend asked me how I find time to have my devotional time with God. I simply said, “I just make myself do it.” I don’t say that pridefully or easily. I say that with the same flesh and struggles as everyone else, with the struggle of juggling time and energies and entering into the rush and scurry of the day, with the hopes of accomplishing much and feeling like I have made a dent in my never-ending list of tasks.

Within the last handful of months, I have really placed a priority on having my Bible time in the morning… even if I wake up late, even if the kids are up, even if I feel swamped… I realize how important it is for me to spend time with my God.

Obviously I have a luxury of being a stay-at-home mom, so my schedule is a bit different in that way. I can be a bit more flexible.

I encourage you to try to fit in your time with God in the morning. It does help set your day on the right foot. Wake up 15 minutes earlier with the intent of establishing a morning habit. If and when you fail, don’t leave out your Bible time altogether, find another time during the day when you can spend time with God.

If the morning doesn’t work, get your Bible out during lunch. Take a break during the afternoon or before you start to make dinner. Take your Bible with you if you will be waiting for a child’s lesson or practice. After dinner, before you browse social media and the internet, read your Bible. And if you haven’t touched it before you are ready for bed, open God’s Word and take a few moments to reflect.


Some how, some way, MAKE TIME with God your priority
by MAKING TIME for it in your day.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Make Time for What You Don't Have Time For



“I don’t have time for _____________________.”

It is a statement that many of us utter when we survey our lives. The load of responsibility, the privilege of opportunity, and the limit of time and our human selves fill our lives to the fullest. Margin seems inaccessible. The clock appears to move way too quickly, and we are left with a sense that we just can not fit anything else in or pursue some of our priorities and dreams.

Unfortunately, we sell ourselves short oftentimes. Yes, our schedules are full. Yes, we are finite. Yes, there is much vying for our attention.

However, life really is what we MAKE of it.

I took a survey on my Facebook page the other day to see what my readers wish they had more time for. Here were some of the responses:
  • quilting
  • crocheting
  • reading, for pleasure and for growth
  • scrapbooking
  • thoroughly cleaning out a computer room
Let me add some more:
  • reading the Bible and other spiritual disciplines
  • rest and sleep
  • exercise
  • time with loved ones
If we examine the lists above, we can conclude that all of these things contribute to our well-being. They, all, have to do with taking care of ourselves, giving ourselves well-needed breaks and rest, and fueling the passions and dreams we have. Wouldn’t you say that is pretty important?

The first thing we must realize when it comes to things we want more time for is that we have to MAKE time for them. If you evaluate everything you do today, you will see that you have established goals and habits that cause your day to flow the way it has OR maybe you, in a large part, have just “gone with the flow”. Either way, your day has been accounted for.

How do you want to account for your day? Do you really want to make time for the things you don’t have time for?

I will be posting more about this topic to encourage and motivate you to make time for these things that are really important in life.

Here is my current challenge to you:

Over the next few days, PICK ONE thing you want to do and set a goal to do it, even if it is only 15 minutes. Something is better than nothing!


When you have made goals and/or accomplished something, let me know! Catch me on social media. Email me at thecozynookblog@gmail.com. I would love to hear how you are moving forward and use your stories to inspire others.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Ending 2015 and Reflecting with Thankfulness



This morning my husband and I had a very pleasant morning, one of the most pleasant mornings I have had in a while. We arose at a good hour to venture out for some errands, a quick trip to the grocery store, and a stop at a, new-to-us, local doughnut shop so we could bring home some sweet treasures for our sleepy household. I was happy to be with my husband and feel at peace. We weren’t feeling rushed. The roads and stores were still quite empty. And best of all, we were together.

When we came home, our crew was still asleep, so we settled on the couch together for a morning rest. As I sat there thinking about the end of 2015, I felt so thankful… so thankful to the Lord for what I have in life…
  • My family and friends, all of the people in my life who love and support me. 
  • My husband who is my best friend and beloved partner in life.
  • My children who fill my life with purpose and joy.
  • My church family that encourages and upholds me.
  • My house, a place I can call home, a place my family and I have cultivated and cherished.
  • The privilege to homeschool my children and be with them every day.
  • For this blog, a place for me to write and influence others and for my readers who make it worthwhile.
And the list goes on…

Sometimes life feels hard. Even the other day my husband mentioned how immensely blessed we are yet how difficult life can be! Unfortunately, that is the case this side of heaven. Life will always have its challenges and continual struggles. However, there is always much to be thankful for.

As you end this year and start a new one, I pray that you are able to have some time to reflect. I pray you are able to stop life for a moment and just think about all of the ways you are blessed.


May we enter 2016 with gratitude
and may it fuel us in the year ahead.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Where is Your Focus This Week? Let Go of Perfection, Expectation, & Comparison and Celebrate!


The other day I posted the above picture to my personal social media. I loved it. My dog was still. The house was cozy. My tree was lit up and showing forth its splendor of red and gold. Everything seemed wonderful, until someone pointed out the bottom of my tree. Yes, if you didn’t see it before, you see it now… the bottom of my tree is not decorated!

When I realized that, I immediately thought of quickly grasping my photo from the realms of public notice and keeping it only for my own eyes. I felt embarrassed. I thought of some of my friends and their trees and knew that the bottom of their trees would never look so bare! I hate to admit that I even looked up one of my friend’s trees on Facebook, and sure enough, her tree was full – to the hilt!
Nonetheless, I did not remove my picture from Instagram and Facebook. There were some who loved the picture as well.


They weren’t focusing on the lack in the picture,
but the beauty.

They weren’t comparing my picture
or my tree to anyone else’s.
They enjoyed the scene for what it was.

This week, as you are finishing your preparations for Christmas, let go of some of the ideas of perfection, expectation and comparisons you have in your head.

Everyone’s situation is different. Don’t compare your tree, your gift-giving (or receiving),  or your celebrations to the gal next door.

Focus on the Lord and His goodness
and live this week with joy!

Celebrate the Lord and His birth.
Celebrate the gift of Jesus and all of the good gifts He has given and continues to give us.


Merry Christmas!

... and when you feel discouraged,
just remember the bottom of my tree. ~wink~

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Chocolate Crinkles


If you are still looking to bake some delicious Christmas (or whenever!)cookies, try these Chocolate Crinkles. I have blogged about these before, but did not lay out the recipe for you, so I’m doing that now.

The main thing you have to remember when you make these is that the dough has to sit for a few hours before you make the cookie balls. Otherwise, they are fairly simple and very tasty!

Chocolate Crinkles
Original recipe found here
Printable Version

1/2 cup veg. oil (I use coconut oil)
4 – 1 oz. squares unsweetened chocolate, melted (I use a double boiler)
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
2 t vanilla
2 cups flour
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 cup powdered sugar

Mix oil, chocolate, and granulated sugar.

Blend in one egg at a time until well-mixed. Then add vanilla.

Stir flour, baking powder, and salt into oil mixture.

Chill for a few hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350.

Drop by teaspoonful (a melon scooper works well) into the powdered sugar.

Roll and cover in sugar. Shape into balls and place on a greased baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. 

Bake 10 to 12 minutes. Do not overbake.