29 March 2012

Dear Readers

Dear Readers,

Thank you, friends. Thank you for encouraging me to write. Thank you for commenting, for checking in, for coming back to see what I have to say. Thank you for pinning my posts, and thank you for sharing my links.

Source: etsy.com via Erika on Pinterest

I know the most faithful of you will follow me to my new home, so again, thank you.

I'm excited for the move, and I am looking forward to sharing with you the dreams that have culminated in the creation of Intend to Live. A lot of thought and preparation have gone into the creation of this new place, and yet there are still unknowns. I appreciate your support of our new endeavor, despite these unknowns.

Intend to Live will be a new and improved version of Control the Chaos, so I hope you will continue to be the fantastic readers you are and tell all your friends.

28 March 2012

Final Challenge: Why Intend to Live

Hi ya'll.

You've been introduced to me bit by bit over the last several months, and I am chomping at the bits to get to know ya'll better.  And that's just one of the reasons that I am so excited about Tracey's and my new blog, Intend to Live, that is launching on Sunday.

Some other reasons?

A few weeks ago I told you about my dream of being a writer.  With a blogging partner, I can spend more time on other writing.

Plus it will give me more time to focus on a few other VERY important "projects" I have: 

Okay, so they aren't exactly "projects", per say, but you know what I mean.  

Plus, I got into this blogging world because on top of holding myself more accountable, I wanted to be able to enrich other people.  So with Tracey by my side, we have such a great chance to give ya'll tools {and have you all share them with others, because you probably have a lot already!} to live more naturally, simply and now.  

So, new friends, look forward to talking more next week!

27 March 2012

Intend to Live: Upcoming Topics

No Pin It. Do It. project today. Instead, I obtained permission from The Management to share a few upcoming topics at our new site, Intend to Live.

I have done some great pinterest projects recently:

  • sauerkraut 
  • chicken stock. 
  • updates to my winter sowing experiment
  • simple organizing  ideas

I will be discussing some time and sanity savers, and I have a few excellent book and product reviews coming up as well. I will share some of my new favorite recipes. Well, the successful ones, anyway.

Jenny will cover bucket list updates, her adventures in healthy living, and some of her own pinterest projects with journals and photo organization.

There *might* even be a giveaway or two - you'll just have to wait and see!

26 March 2012

Funday Monday: Details, Details

I am very excited about the launch of our new website, Intend to Live on April 1. In case you missed the announcement, I am joining forces with Jenny @ A Drop in the Bucket to bring the best of both worlds into one place. It seems like a natural fit for two girls who are trying to simplify our lives so we can spend time living.

I would like to share a few details about what you will can expect from this new venture. While I will no longer be writing Control the Chaos, I will be writing similar content at Intend to Live. Below is a weekly schedule of topics, so you can always be in the know.

You will usually be able to find me writing with my crunchy slant for Making Time and Simplify. Every other week I will share a Pin It project from Pinterest, and the off weeks will be my turn to share Favorite Finds, which may includes books I've read, products I love, and other things I usually share on Funday Monday.

Jenny will contribute to Making Memories and Living Well. She is perfectly suited for both of these topics, with her dedication to capturing and living in the moment (she has some serious photography skills), and with her quest to shed some pounds and live a healthier lifestyle.

We might pop in for guest posts, but for the most part, this is what you can expect.

I know the anticipation is killing you, so stay tuned for more details as we get closer to launch.

23 March 2012

Five Minute Friday: Loud

Want to play Five Minute Friday? It’s easy peasy! 
1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Meet & encourage someone who linked up before you.
OK, are you ready? Give us your best five minutes on:



It's not just loud; it's deafening. The kind of noise that would alarm some people. Mainly people without kids.

But it's joyous, spontaneous, and real. The kind of noise I would never stop, no matter how much my ears shatter. The sound of innocent childhood memories being seared into the brains of the precious little people playing happily in the garden.

When did loud get so bad? When did we start having to use our "inside" voices all the time?

Probably around the same time when we just wanted to blend in. Never stand out. Never be placed in the center of the room with the spotlight on us and everyone pointing and jeering because we aren't the same as all the other people in the room who are all terrified because there is something about them that is so very different.

Sometimes I wish for loud. Mainly when I need an answer to something. Because I haven't trained my ears enough to listen for the quiet subtle voice. I need the screaming voice. GO THIS WAY! TAKE THIS PATH! DO THIS NOW!

Other times I wish for quiet. In the literal sense. But I know that soon enough those joyful screams will be replaced by the sullen, "I'm going to my room. Leave me alone. I don't want to talk." So I bask in the loud, I make no judgements, and I pray they will have the courage to [not care about blending in].

Go see what others have to say about LOUD. Hop on over to The Gypsy Mama, read, and share your own thoughts.


22 March 2012

Why and How I Fail

I love love love this simple, natural life we've got going on, but I'm gonna be honest: there are many times I fail. Miserably.

There are only so many hours in a day, and even though I want to only eat the best food and make all my own cleaners and waste as little as possible, the bottom line is when I run out of time, my priorities lie elsewhere.

There, I said it.

Consequently, sometimes

  • the dryer gets used more often than the clothesline
  • french fries are eaten for dinner (Dutch french fries are the best!)
  • the TV is turned on to entertain 
  • paper gets thrown into the trash can instead of recycling
  • the car gets driven on a "bike only" day
  • lights get left on upstairs
  • money gets spent out of convenience rather than frugality
Unfortunately, I could go on and on. Here's the thing: every effort I make, no matter how small, means I'm taking the responsible path. My intentions are sometimes drowned by my actions, but more often my intentions create actions.

I fail. Because sometimes life needs to be lived, and people need to be loved. And each day is a new chance to do it better.

21 March 2012

Challenge Wednesday #25

Don't Forget - Intend to Live
coming soon to a computer near you
April 1, 2012

And...I am over at A Drop in the Bucket talking about my childhood dreams. Aren't you dying to find out what I wanted to be when I grew up? Hop on over and find out!

20 March 2012

Pin It. Do It. Balloon Volleyball

Intend to Live: 12 days to launch!

Today's Pinterest project is all about the kids. I chose it both as a mother and a therapist. Again, very simple but oh so fun. 

The original pin came from a post called Boredom Busters over at The Weekend Homemaker

We don't use paper plates here, so I simply traced circles onto cardboard. I taped two craft sticks together, but there was really no need for the longer handle, especially since the Big broke it in half trying to send the balloon to the house across the street.

For therapy, I am using this project with some kids who have problems with balance. They will have to hit the balloon toward a target while standing on an air cushion. This one task combines balance, eye hand coordination, and something called graded force - how you magically know how hard to reach for something, hit something, place something, etc. It's the way you can stack blocks without knocking them over.

Both the Bigs and the Little enjoyed playing with it, although the Little tended to scoot the balloon along the ground while the Bigs tried (and succeeded twice) to hit the balloon onto the roof. It's an activity for all ages.

And don't forget, on April 1 I'm joining forces with A Drop in the Bucket. More details coming soon.

Skip To My Lou

19 March 2012

Funday Monday: Announcement

I just want to thank everyone for their kind thoughts, words, and prayers over the last several days. While I am no stranger to headaches and migraines, I have been taken off guard by the intensity and longevity of this latest  problem, and also that my normal remedies have proven ineffectual. This is how it goes, though, so I keep plugging away, working towards both treating the symptoms and the cause.

So, now, on to the fun stuff.
Photo courtesy of Vixen Vintage

Control the Chaos has been around for a while. It started off a little rocky and rambling, not sure where it was headed. It pains me to read some of those early posts. But, I found my footing and saw my niche, my passion:

Simplify. Be real. Be natural. Have fun.

Enjoy. Every. Moment. 

And I have. And I do. And yes, it's fun. But it's time to grow up. Just a little. Add another dimension to this life. I've pondered these thoughts for a while. And then I shared them with a dear friend. A friend who happens to have a mantra of her own that fits quite well with mine.

Changes are a-coming. Big changes. A much needed and highly anticipated renovation.

I'm moving out and moving up.

And getting a bloggy roommate.

Control the Chaos and A Drop in the Bucket are becoming

Intend to Live

Our new site will launch April 1, 2012. It will include my crazy, wacky ideas on natural living, real food, and simple fun. And Jenny will be around to add her own two cents on motherhood, living in the moment, and her own natural living journey. Plus she is a great photographer, so hopefully some of that will rub off on me.

Don't worry, I'll still be my crunchy crazy self. Now I'll have an audience. More details to come!

16 March 2012

Five Minute Friday: Brave

Where your words are welcome, just as they are! 
1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Meet & encourage someone who linked up before you.
OK, are you ready? Give us your best five minutes on:



Those seeds that poke out of the ground when it is warm have no idea what kind of life they will lead. The infant in your arms trusts you explicitly, blissfully unaware of the potential dangers lurking near and far. What they do, while impressive, is merely instinct.
We have it much worse. We can see the possible outcomes, or at least anticipate the myriad of unknowns. We know that others are put off by our tentativeness, our hesitancy. And yet we linger. We have so much weight to carry, so much riding on our decisions.

But it must be done. Despite the consequences, decisions must be made. Steps must be taken. Work must be started and completed.

And so, like the seeds poking out of the ground but with much more on our shoulders, we hike up our pants and jump in.

And that is bravery.


15 March 2012

It's Not You. It's Me.

And my uncooperative head.

Remember how last week I wrote about how things don't always go as planned? Well, this week was worse. Much worse.

I've suffered from migraines since I was in college, related to allergies. Last Friday I had a migraine, in the normal spot, with the normal symptoms.

Source: google.it via Hobina on Pinterest

And then the real trouble began. Since then I've had what seems to be another migraine, or rather, an increased migraine, in a new spot, with all new symptoms. My normal pain medicine is not working, and yet the doctors have no other explanation.

I don't really like to talk about personal issues, especially regarding pain or illness. I am of the opinion that if you have to tell everyone how sick you are or how much pain you are in, well, then you probably aren't. But let's just say I can handle pain, and this was unlike anything I've ever experienced. Unlike three natural childbirths. Unlike previous migraines. Unlike hernia repair. And on and on.

And here's the rub: I talk about simplifying, about all things natural, so we can spend our time living. This past week, I could hardly function. There was no room for anything more. Not even a blog.

So, friends,  I'm slowly getting back to living. There are some big changes coming up, personally and here in my bloggy home. I have a lot to do to get ready for these changes. But not tonight. Tonight, I rest and heal. I pray that soon I will be able to do more than simply function.

13 March 2012

And the Winner is...

I took all the entries from the blog and facebook, created a list, and randomized and numbered the list using Random.org.

The sequence generator chose number 14, which corresponded to...drumroll please...


Congratulations, Elly! I've sent you a message so we can get your prize to you as fast as possible!

Thanks to everyone for entering. Stay tuned for more exciting happenings in the very near future.

12 March 2012

Funday Monday: The Dirty Life

Today is the last day to enter the giveaway for Steve's Originals! Who wouldn't want some delicious nitrate-free beef jerky or dark chocolate espresso granola bars? Leave a comment here or on my FaceBook page. Drawing ends at 11:59PM EST.

I read an awesome book recently called The Dirty Life:

It's a memoir about this Manhattan girl who falls in love with a farm boy. Love wins out, and she ditches her city life and buys a farm in upstate New York, marries the guy, and begins her life running a co-op designed to provide everything needed to feed a whole community. 

It's a little about starting a farm and a lot about jumping in over your head and somehow learning to swim. 

I was riveted from start to finish, both because of the style of the writing as well as the content. The author was (is) a journalist, and her writing reflects it. Her drastic transition from Manhattanite in the City that Never Sleeps to Essex Farm owner and rising with the sun makes for some entertaining and educational stories.

I am interested in homesteading, so the tale appealed to me. But even if you aren't, the foundation of the book is enough to fascinate a broad audience, so you should read it.

In my humble opinion.

09 March 2012

Five Minute Friday: Empty

Be brave, come & join FiveMinuteFriday. Your words are necessary! 
1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Please visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments.
OK, are you ready? Give us your best five minutes on:


We rush from here to there, with a million stops in between. We spend our time figuring out how to spend our time, and worrying about how to fit it all in. We put on the brave face that says we have it all: friends, family, blessings galore.

We make it a priority to be so filled that we are never empty. We listen to talk show hosts, read self-help books, and try to make improvements on our lives. We hover over our children so they have the absolute best shot at life.

We are so very full.

But the truth is, we are all so very empty. So empty that we are stuffed full. We are each a vessel, useless until it is filled. We make sense of it all by being full and overflowing. We give meaning and take meaning from the things we choose to fill ourselves.

If we have trouble finding the right fit, we keep cramming and stuffing and forcing the fullness. But still the pockets of emptiness remain.

But, when we find it, the right fit into our vessels, well, then we find contentment. And it pours from us [without ever emptying our souls].

08 March 2012

Things Don't Always Go As Planned

I had this great post planned for today. It is about letting go. I think it's important. But it wasn't quite finished, not quite perfect.

And although some days it might seem like I just throw something up here, this particular topic is too important for me to leave it simply ok.

Things didn't go as planned this week, and the editing did not get done.

Sometimes that's just how it goes.

So, we're going with Plan B. Actually, what you see below (and probably recognize from my 31 Days to Homemade series) was going to be integrated into Plan A. But Plan A is on hold until it is not simply ok but just right.

Laundry Soap: Is it worth your time? What kind of investment are you willing and able to make? I talked about toothpaste last week, and now I'm on to clothes washing.

Laundry.  The bain of every mother's existence.  The never ending cycle that rears its ugly head once, twice, 12 times a week.  First I want my kids to use their hampers.  Then I want them to stop using their hampers.  The thing is always full!

Several years ago I stopped buying detergent.  I didn't like the perfume-y smell, I didn't like the chemicals, I didn't like the cost.

I made my own powder with this recipe.  It was laughably easy and cost effective.  That worked great for us for several years.

But then we moved to the Netherlands, and our washer doesn't like powdered detergent.  I had always avoided making liquid detergent because I just figured it would not be worth the effort.  But by the time we moved to NL, I didn't want to go back to store bought, so I gave it a shot.

Yes, it has a few extra steps, but it is still so incredibly easy that it doesn't matter.  What's more, one batch lasts us several months, so I only have to make it a few times a year.

Our clothes are clean, and it really is just a few cents a load.  Amazing.

If you decide to undertake this project, many recipes say you can use any bar of soap.  But I really prefer Dial Corp. 04303 Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar Soap

for it's stain fighting power.  I have heard that it can be harsh, so take that into consideration if you have an infant or someone in your family with super sensitive skin.  We have never had any problems with it, but Ivory is a gentler alternative if you need it.


Dial Corp. 04303 Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar Soap

You might be able to find these items in the laundry section of your grocery store.  I can't, so I just order mine.  Incidentally, Borax is also fantastic for cleaning toilets, and washing soda is a good all purpose cleaner.

Recipe (courtesy of Tipnut):

1 quart Water (boiling)
2 cups Bar soap (grated)
2 cups Borax
2 cups Washing Soda
Add finely grated bar soap to the boiling water and stir until soap is melted. You can keep on low heat until soap is melted.
Pour the soap water into a large, clean pail and add the Borax and Washing Soda. Stir well until all is dissolved.
Add 2 gallons of water, stir until well mixed.
Cover pail and use 1/4 cup for each load of laundry. Stir the soap each time you use it (will gel).

I keep my detergent in old detergent bottles or a lidded bucket.  Like I said, it makes a big batch and lasts forever.

Ok, you're all set.  Get to work!

07 March 2012

Challenge Wednesday #24

Don't forget to enter my giveaway for some great natural food from Steve's Originals. Giveaway ends Monday, 12 March 2012. See Details here.


Please join me in welcoming Jen from A Drop in the Bucket for a guest post:

Last week, when she was visiting over at my blog, Tracey asked me the following:  What did you want to be when you grew up, did you follow your dream, and how are you making your dreams a reality in your current situation?

LOVE Tracey's questions.  They are always so timely.  And TRUST me, we don't plan this out... 

So, to the question.  My dream job as a child changed a bit throughout my childhood {as I am sure it does for most kids}.  I started out firmly believing that I was going to be a lawyer.  How did an introvert like me who likes to make everyone happy think that would work out?  Ha.  

Anyways...that all changed.  In fifth grade, I had an English teacher who told me I was good writer.  And I believed her.  It also started me on the road to wanting to be a writer when I grew up.  I was pretty sure journalism was my place.  

I started out writing for our elementary school newspaper in junior high {I went to a small Catholic school}.  In high school, I took zero hour {which meant starting school at 6:40 am!} my freshman and sophomore years so that I could start taking journalism class when I was a sophomore {which happened to be when and where I met my now husband...coincidence?}.  

In college I ended up going for a school that was a bit more focused on television journalism, but I still was more interested in writing and producing the news than being an anchor.  So I thought for sure I would end up producing newscasts in a small midwestern town {since with journalism, you start out small and then move to larger markets...usually}.  

But along came J#1 {my husband}, who I ran into just before my senior year in college.  He was living in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.  And I fell in love.  And I moved back to my hometown.  

I found jobs that gave me a  bit of a chance to indulge my dream of being a writer, but mostly revolved around fundraising, employee orientations and promoting consumer brands. Through all of those jobs, I had people reminding me that I was a good writer, so the idea was never far from my mind.

So that's a long way to get to the 2nd part of Tracey's question, but essentially...I didn't follow my dream. 

But God's got a plan for everything right? 

If I hadn't met my husband, we wouldn't have made this most recent move overseas together.  Where I find myself as a stay at home mom, and I also finally find myself with time to write.  

So now?  Now I am following my dream.  I finished a novel in November.  I haven't touched it much since, but now that I have my dreamy office?  

Work shall commence. I have a few ideas brewing.  And I am VERY excited about them. 

I am making a few other changes too. One you may just hear about here in the future.  

The others? Cutting back on time wasters like watching t.v. and playing Angry Birds {seriously, WHY is that game so addicting?}.   That will help facilitate even more writing.  And reading...which can only help me become a better writer.  

So...Tracey, for next week,  I want to know the same thing.  What did you want to be when you grew up?  Are you doing that...or did things change and take you down a different road?  

06 March 2012

Pin it. Do it. Butter, Baby.

Don't forget to enter my giveaway for some great natural food from Steve's Originals. Giveaway ends Monday, 12 March 2012. See Details here.


Today's Pinterest project is just for fun. I realize shaking a jar of cream is not the most efficient way to make butter.

I also realize I don't need to use Pinterest to teach me how to shake a jar.

The reason I pinned this is for the 

  • fantastic pictures (mine are nothing special, but that is something I'll be working on very soon)
  • reminder to do something educational with the Bigs
I'm trying hard to teach my kids that food doesn't come from a grocery store. This is a great, easy way to learn.

We have a farm store that sells whole milk in glass jars. I bought a few jars and skimmed the cream off the top. If you also have access to quality whole milk, let it sit undisturbed in the refrigerator for a few days so the cream rises to the top.

The author of 2 Little Hooligans just bought a container of heavy cream, and it sure looks like it turned out fantastic. I might try that for a larger scale project, because I also have access to fresh cream nearby.

So on a day off of school we set to work. It seems like it will take forever, and it does take a lot of shaking, but once the process starts (the cream gets very thick like whipping cream), it goes pretty fast. It's very important to rinse the buttermilk out, because the buttermilk is what is responsible for making it go rancid. Although we eat butter so fast around here I don't think we've ever had a problem with that. 
Don't dump the buttermilk! It makes fantastic pancakes or ranch dressing.

We added a little salt to ours when we were finished.

And for those of you who aren't yet convinced...

Fresh butter is AH-MAZE-ING.

That's all I have to say about that.


05 March 2012

Funday Monday: Ghetto Toothpaste Dispenser

Don't forget to enter my giveaway for some great natural food from Steve's Originals. See Details here. You can enter both here or on my Facebook Page.

The one thing with all this toothpaste making is where to put it. I originally put it in a plastic container, but it didn't fit well in the designated space. So then I put it in a cute jar that promptly got dropped and cracked.

Seeing as we live in a country where it is difficult to buy special items like this, or more likely, I don't know where to look, I tackled the problem head on.

I highjacked an old tube and made it bow to my will.

Meaning, I snipped the end off the tube, washed it, filled it with homemade toothpaste, and clipped the end closed. I've since used various other clips, including an old chip clip, for the same purpose.

Not perfect, but sometimes you do what you've got to do.

Anyone have a better idea? Or at least know of a place to buy reusable toothpaste dispensers?