Sunday, August 17, 2014

Establish Routines: Prepare for the Year Ahead

Establish Routines - The Cozy Nook

September is going to be crazy. I already feel it.

I should not be surprised. It’s like this every September.

School will be fully in session.
My boys will be playing soccer.
My daughter’s ballet lessons will start again.
Music lessons will be in full swing.
Homeschool co-op starts its fall semester.
Wednesday night church provides weekly teaching opportunities for me.
Multiple family birthdays exist, including my father-in-law’s 80th.

Yep, it’s going to be busy!

For the next two weeks I am trying to get my routines established.

  • Morning Routine – to help my day start smoothly
  • Evening Routine – to prepare for the next day
  • School Routine – to establish a general order for our school
  • Chore Routine – to give structure to housework, meal planning, etc.
  • Planning Routine – to assign certain days for planning school and other responsibilities I have, i.e. teaching at church and co-op

As I flesh them out, I am going to write about it here, on my blog, with hopes that it will help you create some routines for yourself.

First, let me leave you with this challenge.

Write out all of the routines you would
like to establish in your life.

What does your list look like?

Friday, August 8, 2014

Quick Workouts that Will Help You Establish an Exercise Routine

Quick Workout Routines - The Cozy Nook

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, medical specialist, or fitness expert of any kind. The information provided here is to encourage people to find exercise routines that fit their lifestyles, according to the knowledge and medical conditions they have. It is always wise to verify your exercise habits with a medical practitioner, especially if you have concerning medical issues.

Is it difficult for you to establish an exercise routine?

It has been difficult for me.

When I mentioned to a nurse at my doctor’s office that I had been exercising regularly the past month, she asked, “How do you find time to exercise with four kids?”

Yes, exactly! That’s what I have always thought… How in the world can I find time to exercise?

Well, just like anything else important, oftentimes we don’t FIND time, we MAKE time.

Exercise is important for all of us. It keeps our bodies healthy and strong, keeps our minds sharp, helps us cope with stress, helps us have a more positive outlook on life, helps us feel better about ourselves, and more!

Carving out a half hour at a time multiple times a week to exercise seemed a bit daunting to me, especially since I don’t tend to be very patient when I exercise. I want the process done so I can move on with my day.

However, carving out seven to fifteen minutes seemed much more doable, and that’s what I did… so far.

Here are some short workouts I have tried and actually like. They help me get moving, get my metabolism going, and get me used to exercising so I can continue to improve my exercise habits.

  1. The Seven Minute Workout
    This workout takes just that, seven minutes. It is fairly intense, involving 12 different exercises of 30 second intervals with 10 second rests in between the exercises. All you need to accomplish the exercises is your own body weight, a chair or a step, and a wall. You can get an App for your phone or you can find the exercises online, i.e. here.
  2. Fit Deck Exercise Cards
    I actually bought these cards for my husband for Christmas last year, and now I am using them. I have been using the BodyWeight category cards, but there are many others: Pilates, Yoga, Stretch, Exercise Ball, Senior, etc.! When I go to exercise, I simply shuffle the cards and then start with the top card, continuing through the cards until I have exercised for 15 minutes. You can purchase the cards through Amazon or check them out at the FitDeck site directly.
  3. Other short workout routines
    A long time ago I found these routines when I was searching for quick workouts. I really like the “Wake Up Routine”. It’s short and sweet and gets you going in the morning. There are other routines, like the “Quick Ten”, that are fairly simple to do. Check out the site for other routines.

For another good article about short workouts, check out this one on Becoming Minimalist.

Are you currently exercising?

What do you do and how do you
make time for it?

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

How My Husband and I, Both, Lost 10 Pounds in Less Than a Month

Tips for Weight Loss - The Cozy Nook

Well, my husband and I took the plunge. After returning from vacation, both of us a little heavier than when we left for vacation, we decided to get serious about losing weight. I knew my husband really wanted to lose weight, and I felt I should join him.

Little did I know that I would see and feel the results so quickly. It has been a huge blessing for both of us.

What was the secret to our success?

Good ol’ diet and exercise!

First of all, I have to say that our Fitbit scale, pictured above, was a great motivator. Through our accounts, we could watch our weight’s progress. It was so encouraging to see the graph decreasing.

On the diet front, think protein and produce (fruits and veggies).

A friend of mine (who has a lot of knowledge in the medical and nutrition fields and is a doctor of pharmacy) was a great guide when we started our weight loss. She told us to focus mainly on eating protein and vegetables the first week. This empties the sugar and carb storage and helps detox the body.

After the first week, my friend recommended that we start incorporating whole grains back into our diet, staying away from wheat as much as possible – brown rice, quinoa, oat-focused breads…

We have had days when we have eaten out or had dessert. We try to keep our portions more minimal and also compensate for the “treats” the rest of the day, eating lighter – feasting on fruit smoothies and protein or produce snacks.

Also, I set a rule for myself – not to eat anything after 9 p.m. and drink only water.

Weight Loss Meals - The Cozy Nook

Above are some of the foods we have eaten.

From top left, clockwise:

  • Fried eggs with pepperoni, garnished with tomatoes.
  • A hearty salad with roasted chicken
  • Healthy taco salad with quinoa, no chips
  • Black Bean/Quinoa Burgers

In addition to diet, we have tried to make exercise a regular part of our lives.

My husband has been doing Tae Kwon Do, mainly, but has also done some jump-roping and trampoline jumping.

I have added short workouts, 15 minutes or less, at least a few times a week. I will do another post with more details about that.

Losing weight has definitely taken some discipline.

As my husband says, “Get used to feeling hungry”. That is true sometimes.

However, the reward is great. We look better, feel better, and trust we are gaining better health too!

Best wishes on your
own weight loss goals!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Non-Toxic, DIY All-Purpose Cleaner

Non-Toxic, DIY All-Purpose Cleaner - The Cozy Nook

I have been using this cleaner for ages. I originally used vinegar. Then I switched it to rubbing alcohol when I, surprisingly, ran into the same mixture at my homeschooling co-op’s mom meeting one evening, substituting the rubbing alcohol for the vinegar.

The rubbing alcohol is great because it’s a great cleaner, being antiseptic and quick-to-dry, but it also has a more pleasant smell than vinegar. My daughter enjoys this mix much better!

What can I say about this cleaner?

*Works Well
*Non-Toxic – safe for your home, not worried about breathing chemicals!
*Antiseptic/Antibacterial/Antiviral, depending on the essential oils.
*Easy to Make

How to Make All-Purpose Cleaner

Combine all of the following in a spray bottle:

  • 1 cup rubbing alcohol
  • 1 small squirt of dish soap, probably about 1/2-1 teaspoon. Not too much, or else your cleaner will be too soapy.
  • ~10 drops of essential oil. You choose!
  • Fill the rest with hot water.

Shake to mix. Use happily!

There are many essential oils you could use. Most of them have various anti-germ qualities, which you could read about online. Here are some ideas:

*Tea Tree Oil
*Lemon and Orange
*Germ Fighter Mix – you purchase this through an essential oil company

Happy Cleaning!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Perfect Potato Salad

Perfect Potato Salad - The Cozy Nook

I give Tyler Florence credit for inspiring me with this potato salad. I made his recipe in the past, and after watching another video he did, I made the salad a bit different and simpler. He boils his potatoes with the skins on, whole. His theory is that you keep the flavor of the potato intact when you cook them in the skins. Once you break the skin, you start releasing the flavor.

I have had raving compliments for this salad. I really like making it fresh and serving it warm rather than cold, out of the refrigerator.

Perfect Potato Salad
This recipe makes a large serving (12+ servings) for a party or entertaining, so be sure to adjust your portions if you do not want such a large portion.
Printable Version

5 lbs. potatoes (I used half red and half Yukon), whole with skins on
3/4 cup dill pickles, chopped
Handful of fresh parsley, chopped
2 cups mayo
1/2 cup dijon mustard
salt and pepper

Scrub potatoes and put them in a large pot with salted water, to cover. Remember, the potatoes are whole, with the skins on.

Cook potatoes on medium high heat and boil until the potatoes are soft all way through and can be pierced with a fork.

Drain potatoes and let cool.

While the potatoes are cooling, you can mix the pickles, parsley, mayo, and mustard.

When potatoes are cool, crush them into pieces with your hands. No need to cut them! They will look rustic and rough.

Season the potatoes with salt and pepper. Stir in the rest of the ingredients.


You could garnish it with chives, if you’d like.

If you don’t like pickles, you can omit them and add something else, like boiled eggs or celery.

Have fun and enjoy!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Your Labor is Not in Vain

Your Labor is Not in Vain - The  Cozy Nook

Imagine for a moment that you planted a large garden. You spent a lot of time, money, and effort on the garden, and you had high hopes for that garden. You looked forward to the fruit you would gain from it!

However, what if something happened to that garden, and you were not able to receive its fruit?

What if a storm blew through and destroyed it completely?

What if wildlife visited and ate the fruit before you were able to harvest?

What if the garden looked nice but actually didn’t even end up producing much fruit at all?

Would you be disappointed? Would you feel like your labor was in vain?

I would.

I would feel very disappointed. That’s basic human nature – put your energies into something and reap a good harvest.

How do you go on in life, though, when that doesn’t happen?

In the end it boils down to trusting God.

I have labored in vain,
I have spent my strength for nothing and in vain;
Yet surely my just reward is with the Lord,
And my work with my God
Isaiah 49:4

…be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
1 Corinthians 15:58

Your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Let me say that again… partly because I need to hear it again!

Your labor in the Lord is not in vain!

Our job is to obey God, to do what He says, to follow Him at any cost. He takes care of the rest!

Our work is a sacrifice to God.
Our labor pleases Him.
Our reward lies with Him.

Be encouraged and keep laboring
for and unto Him!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Homeschooling: Are You Ready for the New School Year?

Ready for the New School Year - The Cozy Nook
Click on the image to print.

Well, it’s the middle of July already, and you know what that means. Yep, the summer is flying by.

Before you know it, your new school year will be in session. Are you ready for it?

I’m in the process of getting my new homeschool year ready. I’m filing away old stuff, ordering new curriculum, and trying to have all my ducks in a row so I feel confident when the new school year begins.

Are you ready?

Print out the above checklist to help keep you on track and get your homeschool in order.