Posted in Helpful Hints, What Works for Me, Work & Life

Erasable Ink

Sometimes, life really comes down to the practical. No deep lessons. No profound thoughts. Just basic and practical.

Sometimes as I ponder depth and meaning and how to surrender to the surgery I desperately need the Lord to do on the deep parts of my heart, mind, and habits, I forget just how important those basic and practical things are.

Like erasable ink.

Several years ago, a friend introduced me to Frixion pens. I’d never liked erasable pens because they never seemed to really erase. But these? Oh my word…they work!! And I became addicted! They’re pretty and fun and just a treat to use. They add a little pizazz to life.

But, there’s more to these pens than just fun. There are actually two reasons I really, really like the idea of being able to use erasable ink pens, especially in my planners.


The first really is obvious. I always function better when I can plan ahead, and sometimes I need to plan FAR ahead. But the truth is that life changes. Plans change. I need to be able to erase and make changes, both in my personal planner (the Mommy brain, as my kids call it) and in my homeschool planner. It’s just a necessity.

But, that can be done in pencil, can’t it? Yes, it can. And, for a long time, it was done in pencil. Erasable colored pencils, to be certain, because I color code. In the homeschool planner, each child has a color for independent work and a color for work I do with them (read-alouds, etc.). In my personal planner, I have separate colors for general family life, school, work, church, writing, and personal development. It saves space, helps me keep it all distinguished, and helps me not overlook tasks and activities. Color is my friend.

But, why ink?


While pencil works well for flexibility, it doesn’t work well – at least mentally – for commitment. You’ve probably heard the phrase, “I’ll pencil you in.” More often than not, that means plans will change. We are not committed to penciled-in obligations, tasks, and events.

Yes, it’s mental. And yes, it’s something we might just need to get over. But, for me, being able to use ink instead of pencil helps with that mental commitment – even if they are equally erasable. There’s just something about seeing it in ink that solidifies a task, event, or other commitment in my mind.

It’s just a little thing. But sometimes those little things make the deeper things more feasible. Even something as little, as practical, as basic as using erasable ink.

Posted in Around the Web, Helpful Hints, Homeschooling, What Works for Me

The Great Balancing Act

Sometimes I need to remember what God has taught me in the past. And today, it’s a reminder about balance and making decisions that work best for today, no matter how task- and schedule-oriented I may be. So, instead of writing something new today, I’m going to share with you an article I wrote for Family Magazine last year – one God brought back to my attention this morning to give me the “past lessons” reminder that I needed for today.

Working and Homeschooling: The Great Balancing Act

Homeschooling was once a venture primarily tackled by stay-at-home moms who had no intention of working for income, whether inside or outside the home. Working homeschool moms were relatively rare. But, as homeschooling grows in popularity, more homes experience the juggling act that comes from trying to combine employment and homeschooling.

Every situation is unique. Some children need more attention than others. Some parents work from home while others work outside the home. Some jobs fit into a solid routine; others require flexibility. As a result, there is no one-size-fits-all response when a desperate mother asks for help balancing work and school. But shared experience and wisdom from other work-at-home moms can still offer valuable assistance.

Here are some tips I have gleaned from fellow work-at-home moms:

Click here to read the rest of this article at

Posted in Helpful Hints

Want to Give a Magazine?

Some people like to give the gift of a magazine subscription for Christmas. I know I’ve enjoyed that gift from others on occasion! Home Educating Family Magazine is offering a code for a $10 subscription! The Christmas issue is headed to mailboxes right now (I am anxiously awaiting my copy), and the next issue will focus on adoption and abortion. If the editor is to believed (and she’s pretty trustworthy), it’s going to be a powerful issue, offering a wide range of perspectives and opinions.

For the record, I do write for HEF, but I get no special treatment or kickbacks for sharing this information. I just know I like the magazine and thought I’d pass it along!

Here’s the code…just click the image to go to the website!


Posted in Helpful Hints

A Different Kind of Gift

It can be fun to occasionally give Christmas gifts a little differently by donating to an great cause in someone’s name rather than simply buying a gift. Every December I try to share some of the organizations that have come across our radar through the course of the year. I’m a little late this year, but I thought I’d still share!

  1. For those among you who are Southern Baptists, Lottie Moon Christmas Offering information should be available in your churches. This offering contributes to the cooperative support of Southern Baptist missions worldwide.
  2. Wycliffe Bible Translators remains near and dear to our hearts. There are several ways to give to support Wycliffe’s devotion to put heart-language Bibles into the hands of every language group in the world.
    1. Look at the online gift options through the the 2012 Gift Catalog or help fund specific projects.
    2. Support missionaries directly. Need a name? Go visit our very dear friends Aaron & Joanna Choate and their children Sarah, Benjamin, Olivia, and Katherine. (Here’s a link to give directly to this family.) Even if you don’t feel led to support them financially, I encourage you to get to know them through their blog and support them through prayer. You cannot help but be blessed by this amazing family!
  3. Last month we had the privilege of meeting Eric & Gaye Ramsey and their daughter Alisha from Tom Cox World Ministries. Their organization seeks to look outside the box, finding creative ways to share the Gospel worldwide, and there are several ways to contribute to TCWM’s ministries.
    1. Sponsor a Child
    2. Give a Gift
    3. General Donation
  4. Sometimes it’s fun to have something under the tree or in a stocking that offers a visual reminder of the financial gift that has been given. WorldCrafts offers that option by selling products made by fair-trade businesses operating in impoverished locations worldwide.

Of course, these options are not only available at Christmas. If you are so inclined, keep them in mind for gift-giving occasions throughout 2013!

Posted in Helpful Hints

Helpful Hints Tuesday: Blogging Through the Bible

I’m a little behind on my 1 Peter Bible study this week, so I’m going to trade places with my study post and Thursday’s typical Helpful Hints post.

This week I want to send you to my husband’s blog. I absolutely love the way Doug works through Scripture. He is a history buff, so he knows a lot of the history and context for much of the narrative. And, he is one of the most observant people I know, so he picks up on much that I miss in Scripture.

Last month he decided to start a project of blogging through the entire Bible, chapter by chapter. So far it has been fantastic! (Yes, I will admit to being biased, but I also know good insight when I see it.)

I’m slow getting this shared with you – he posted Genesis 17 yesterday. So, here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to include the links for Genesis 1-17 here in this post. From there you have a few options. (Just click on the option to follow the link.)

  1. Follow me on twitter (annbhibbard), as I will be tweeting each new post as it comes up.
  2. Follow Doug on twitter (dheagle93), as he tweets when he puts up a new post.
  3. Subscribe directly to Doug’s blog.

And here are the Genesis 1-17 posts. Each title should link you back to that post.

Genesis 1, Genesis 2, Genesis 3, Genesis 4, Genesis  5, Genesis 6, Genesis 7, Genesis 8, Genesis 9, Genesis 10, Genesis 11, Genesis 12, Genesis 13, Genesis 14, Genesis 15, Genesis 16, Genesis 17

Posted in Helpful Hints

Helpful Hints Thursday: Chick-fil-A

Well, I had an awesome helpful hint in mind for you. But, I didn’t write it down. And, most of you know what that means. Yep – it never happened.

Oh well. So, as I sit here contemplating a new idea, my eyes just happen to land on the Chick-fil-A calendar on my wall. Voila! I think I’ll mention a little secret about Chick-fil-A coupons that you may or may not know.

The expiration date isn’t a big deal!

Yep, it’s true. I have a coupon holder full of last year’s calendar coupons, and more likely that not, Chick-fil-A will honor them.* So don’t throw those out of date coupons away!

*Ultimately it is the individual restaurant’s decision whether or not to take out of date coupons. So, there may be cases where the coupons are refused.

Posted in Helpful Hints

Helpful Hints Thursday: Table

I honestly don’t know how I ever managed projects without today’s helpful hint item.

Yes, it’s a table. It measures 4ft by 2ft and has three heights. The lowest height is perfect for working with my kids. The middle height is great for an average height table, and the tallest height is like a counter or standing work table. (If you click on the picture below it will take you through to Sam’s website. Click on “see more images” and you can see the heights in action.)


But, what I like the most is the way it folds! See the bottom inset picture? That’s what it does – it folds into a nice, flat little 2ft square, about four inches thick. It can slide almost anywhere out of the way! And, it is very lightweight, so it’s easy to move it from room to room.

I balked at spending the money on this when Doug picked it up for me last fall. I knew it would be handy, but I just didn’t want to put a strain on the budget elsewhere. But, I have to say that it didn’t take long at all for all hesitancy to fly away. We’ve used this as extra counter space in the kitchen when doing massive cooking days. I used it daily while working on Christmas projects. It’s perfect as a pattern cutting table – I don’t have to bend over to cut! But, it doesn’t have to take up permanent space. I can use it and then put it away. (It hasn’t been put away in over a month because of continual projects, but that’s beside the point!!)

An extra flat work surface that does not have to be permanent and therefore does not have to take up space or collect junk. Yep, that sounds like a winner to me!

Just for the record, we did purchase this table, and I receive no kickback of any sort for referring you to the Sam’s site. We just bought it at Sam’s, so I knew they’d have pictures!

Posted in Helpful Hints

Helpful Hint Thursday: e-Recipes

I intended to have Tuesday’s book review done today. But, finishing the Christmas sewing took precedence. Hopefully next week…

So, with all of the Christmas cooking in full swing, I thought I’d share my “recipe book” tip. If you have an e-reader, read on. If not, you can skip this one.

I have cookbooks that I like, but I inevitably find myself printing recipes from the internet. I have ended up with a huge supply of printed recipes hanging around, and I wasn’t doing a great job of getting, much less keeping, them organized. So, I started changing my tactic. Instead of printing them, I have been saving them to a Word document and then sending that document to my Kindle. Or, copying them into a single document, putting a table of contents at the beginning of the document, and sending the whole thing to the Kindle. Either way, voila – a new cookbook that is easily updated!

I use a clear plastic cookbook protector/stand to put the Kindle in while I cook.

The one hitch is that the Kindle sometimes shuts off before I’m done with whatever I’m cooking. But, turning it back on is not a big deal.

I do have all of the recipes backed up in a file on my computer, just in case.

Happy cooking!

Posted in Helpful Hints

Helpful Hints Thursday: Silicone Baking Mat

Okay, these things have just revolutionized cooking for us!

Mats are purchased based on pan size. We have mats for our half sheet and quarter sheet baking pans.

At first, I wondered if they were really worth the investment. We started using parchment paper a little more in cooking, though, and noticed a difference in the quality of the food. So, we thought the one-time expenditure for a baking mat might just be worth the cost.

And it was!

  • No pan greasing needed.
  • Food does not stick, thus preserving the look of the food and easing the clean-up.
  • The baking mat cleans very easily, leaving very little on the pan to be cleaned.
  • The food cooks more evenly. I won’t bake cookies without it anymore!

Any negatives? I’m not sure I’d call these negatives, as long as you know to expect them. But, here they are…

  • Food does not crisp as well on a baking mat. You have to be intentional about crisping.
  • The mat cannot withstand a knife blade. While this is typically not an issue for us, we do have one recipe that requires cutting in the pan. We solved this with a plastic knife. It is not sharp enough to cut the mat, but it is wedged enough to cut most things that might end up on the mat.

So, where might you get such a thing? has a wide selection, as I’m sure kitchen stores do. A popular brand is the Silpat brand.

Posted in Helpful Hints

Helpful Hints Thursday: Giving

I don’t know what your Christmas giving looks like, but in our family we have frequently enjoyed finding at least some way to give to a missions organization at Christmas. We try to be creative in how we plan and do it, but it’s a lot of fun no matter how it happens.

One thing that can be difficult, though, is sorting out which organizations are legitimate and which ones actually end up passing the donated money on to the causes they claim to support. My goal for this post was to make a list of some of the organizations we have given to over the years, but my wonderful husband beat me to it! So, I’m just going to link you over to his post:

Christmas Giving Guide 2011

Whatever, however, and to whomever you give this year, I pray that your giving will glorify God in amazing ways. It’s beautiful to me how even simplest gift to a family member can bring honor and glory to the One whose birthday we are celebrating. May your giving strengthen your relationship with Christ in the most beautiful of ways!