Sunday, December 30, 2007

New Years Eve and other things.

We have company staying with us right now. Company is always good to have because it makes me do extra cleaning all over the house and I really have to clean in my office because it is also our spare bedroom. Since my office can be one of the messiest rooms in the house (I am embarrassed to say), it is good for us to have company often to make me keep it in order.

Because of the fact that we have company I am not sure if I will be posting much in the next couple of days. Just thought I would let you know.

Tomorrow night we are planning our annual New Year's Eve party. I enjoy staying up until the New Year and being with friends and family while doing that. I also have no interest in going out and drinking at that time so the perfect solution for us has been to have a family friendly New Years Eve party to which we invite everybody from church and other friends. We have lots of fun playing games, sometimes making music and eating lots of snacks! Our house is usually bursting with people and you can find somebody in pretty much every room. On New Year's Day we are usually exhausted and our house is a mess but at least we are not dealing with a hangover and we have lots of good memories.We have done New Year's Eve parties ever since we first got married (Well not the first year since we had just gotten married).

New Year's Eve has a lot of very fun memories for me because when growing up my family would travel out to Nebraska to my Grandpa's house. My Mom has 8 siblings (and so there are over 30 cousins) and as many of them as possible would come at that time for a fun reunion. My Mom's family was a singing family and when younger they had done some concerts. (Singing Gospel). I am not sure when it started but at some point they had started a New Year's Eve sing where they would rent a big building and they would invite other groups to come as well and the Petersen family as well as other groups would sing. At around 10 pm they would always take a break to serve homemade doughnuts. As it neared midnight a group of men would go on stage and would pray to bring in the New Year. For various reasons we don't do that anymore but there are certainly a lot of happy memories!

I hope you have a wonderful New Year's Eve and a happy New Year!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Great shopping deals!

I had fun shopping today. Not long browsing shopping but fast run and get sale items shopping. That is really more my style of shopping.

This morning I took a large load of recycling to drop off. It is nice not having milk bottles to drop off anymore as we get our milk from the farm and re-use our jars. But we still have lots of paper and cardboard stuff to recycle.

My fist stop was the Bread store. There I found 100% whole wheat bread on sale for 4/ $2.99. I got 12 loaves for under $9. I will freeze all but one loaf to use later. I love it when they have deals like that!

Next I went to Walgreens. I had a free 8x10 photo waiting to be picked up and I also had a $3 register reward coupon that was about to expire. I found holiday tea and toe socks (which I think will be a fun gift) both for 50% off. I also had a $.55 coupon for the tea. I picked up a box of raisins for a dollar. After the $3 coupon I only had to pay $.94. I used my gift card (which I had recieved from rebating) to pay it. No out of pocket expense and I still have money on my gift card!

After a stop at JC Pennys to exchange something I went to Marketplace. They had 5# bags of oranges or grapefruit on sale for $1.98 each! That is a very good deal for fruit in our area. They also should keep quite well if kept in a cool place. I bought 20# of oranges and 5# of grapefruit. I also had a coupon for getting a bag of caeser salad free. That isn't something I usually buy but if it is free then I am happy too. So I payed less than $10 for all that produce!

After that I went to the farm to get milk and got 7 gallons for $2.50 a gallon. We drink a lot of milk and we are also having company this week.

All in all it was a great shopping trip.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Can you help?

I just posted about some of the fun we have been having with geography. After doing all that I decided it would be tons of fun to get a little more into it, cooking appropriate foods, making flags, learning about customs and a lot of other things. At first I thought I would start with countries but then I was visiting with my sister Martha and she mentioned thinking about doing that with states. I thought about that and thought it probably would be a good idea to start with the states and then do countries so that the kids will understand where they live before we go "traveling" farther a whole lot.

That comes to where I would like your help. I wondered if you could help me with any of the following:
  • What is a special food for your state? (If you feel like sharing a recipe that would be great, or leave a link or just tell my the name and I can search for it.)
  • Where do you live? I have found some fairly blank maps and I am hoping to enlarge one and then we will fill in different things we learn, or towns of people we know or your town!)
  • What is special about your state? (or even just your town)
  • What is something that is fun to do where you live?

Please be sure to say what state you are from when you comment.

We are planning on doing the states in the order of their date of statehood. The first 3 are Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey and so I would especially appreciate comments about them but I would like stuff from any state as we will be doing all of them eventually. I will also try to share what I find with you.

Here are some links that I have found so far that have information:

So please share!! I would love to hear from you!

Having fun learning Geography!!

We have been having a blast learning geography at our house. There are so many ways to have fun learning about things without having to fill in any workbook.

What had first gotten me really excited about geography in the last few months was my blogging. It installed a stat counter which has a graph that lets you see what countries people are visiting from. I would check it every so often and there would be people visiting from many different countries (I wasn't sure if they were really reading or just got to my blog on accident but no matter it has been fun for me to see them come.). Several times people have been from countries I had never even heard of or just didn't know where they were. The whole family got involved at looking them up on a map and sometimes finding out more about them. Ken really loves maps and he suggested that I hang a map up and start keeping track of the different places that visited.

So we hung this map next to the computer. Now whenever there is a new place that visits we highlight it. Ken, Mara and I have been the most involved in this activity but the boys have been a little as well.

A while later I was folding clothes (which I have to admit is not my favorite activity) and I decided to make it more interesting I would check the labels to see where they were made. I couldn't believe how many places they had come from. Mara came down to help me and we had a wonderful time finding out where our clothes had traveled from. We kept a list and afterwards went and found them on the map. This does slow down the folding of clothes a bit but it is quite interesting. One day we found clothes from 30 different countries!!

Another way that we very much enjoy learning geography is by getting to know people from other countries. One great way to do that is to get to know international university students. In our town there is program that helps families and students to get connected so that the student can have an American family. My parents got involved with this when I was a kid and now they help to run it. Our family is also involved. It has been such a great blessing to meet these students. We have fun having them in our home, they tell us about where they come from and often cook for us (Yummy!!!). To see an example of what we do you can visit my Christmas post.

We have been blessed to have quite a few attend church with us and have had the opportunity to tell many of them about the gospel. That has been super exciting.

There are many fun ways to learn geography, what have you done in your family?

Thursday, December 27, 2007


This morning we had fun watching the daughter of a friend. She is a cute little 7 month old. We only watched her for a couple of hours.
I had a lot of fun watching Megan with her. She totally wanted to mother her. She found some extra clothes for her and told me that she needed a bath, she wanted be near her all the time, She loved the bottle and wanted Kiera to drink the whole time. It was a lot of work to keep up with her!!
Dealing with a bottle sure made me extra thankful that I was able to breastfeed my kids. You don't have to think about whether the milk is the right temperature or not, you don't have to mix it up, you don't have to wonder if it is going bad or not.
Oh what fun babies are! No wonder I originally wanted 24. :-)

Politics and Huckabee

I was just reading this post over at Home Where they Belong. It tells about Huckabee's records concerning homeschooling. I found it quite interesting and informative. At one point I had thought that I liked him as a potential president but after some things that Ken has told me and what this article said I definitely do not think he is a very good choice.
By the way I am curious, Who do you support for president and why?

Vanocka Braid

Here is the recipe:

  • 5 1/2 to 6 cups all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat flour for about half of the flour)
  • 1 Tablespoon Yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water
  • 1/2 cup dry milk
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground mace (I did not have this and I decided to put in some cinnamon instead)
  • 1 1/2 cups raisins
  • 1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel (I used orange peel as that was what I had)
  • 1 beaten egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds

In a large bowl combine 2 1/2 cups of the flour, yeast, sugar and dry milk. Next stir in warm water and oil. Then add the eggs, egg white and mace. Beat well. Then stir in raisins, lemon peel and as much of the remaining flour as you can.

On a floured surface, knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately stiff dough that is smooth and elastic (6-8 minutes total). Place in a greased bowl; turn once. cover and let rise in a warm place till double (1 - 1 1/2 hours).

Punch dough down. Put it on a lightly floured surface. divide in half. Cover and let rest 10 minutes. Grease 2 large baking sheets (I would recommend using a stone or a silicone baking sheet). Set half of the dough aside.

To shape , divide the remaining half of dough in half. Cut one of the portions into thirds. Roll each third into an evenly thick 18 inch rope. To braid, line up the 3 ropes, 1 inch apart, on a prepared baking sheet. Starting in the middle, loosely bring left rope underneath center rope; lay it down.Then bring the right rope under the new center rope; lay it down. Repeat to the end. Then on the other end, braid normally by bringing the strands over each other. Fold the braid in half and press the ends together to seal. Stretch braid to a length of 11 inches. Divide the other portion of dough into quarters. Roll three of the pieces into 14 inch ropes. Braid loosely; Press ends together to seal and tuck under. Stretch braid to a length of 9 inches. Brush top of first braid with water to moisten then stack 2 braid on top. Cut remaining dough into thirds. Roll each of them into a 12 inch rope. Braid; press ends together and tuck under. Stretch braid to 7 inches. Brush top of 2nd braid with water and then stack 3rd braid on top.

Repeat the directions for the other half of dough to make a second braid. Cover them and let rise til nearly double.

Brush braids with mixture of beaten egg yolk and 2 teaspoons water. Sprinkly with sliced almonds. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. Then cover loosely with foil and bake 20- 25 minutes more or until it tests done. You can serve this warm or let it cool.

I hope you enjoy!!!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A Merry Christmas at our house

We had a very fun Christmas day. I hope you did too!!! I thought I would share some of our day's highlights. Above is the Vanocka Braid that I made for breakfast. It was fun to make but the bottom burned so we had to cut it off. Oh well! The joys of baking. I think it would have worked much better if I had thought to use my silicone sheets underneath. After we had cut the bottom off it did taste good and was enjoyed. I will try to share the recipe later. We had a fun time opening the gifts from our stockings. Jonathan kept saying: "I think this is the best Holiday ever!". The kids really appreciated everything. They liked the gifts made by their siblings. We don't spend to much on gifts, nor have a lot of them but that didn't reduce the fun in any way. Megan was quite into opening her gifts this year. If anyone tried to help her she would usually say "Stop" quite firmly.
Here is one of the very frugal gifts that the boys received this year. I am sorry I didn't do a post on how to make them as I am sure they were in much demand at your house as well. (Doesn't everyone need an eye patch? Ha Ha!!). They were well received at our house as they had been much requested and I was reminded quite a few times that I had said I might give them one for Christmas. The boys had been to visit some friends who had an eye patch and they needed(?) one too.
After opening presents we headed over to my parents where they have a very large and fun sledding hill. (It is the biggest hill I have ever been sledding on, even when we went in the mountains ~though you certainly could find steeper places in the mountains, I never saw anybody sledding on them) The above picture is some of our University student friends. These girls are all from Malaysia. The one in the middle actually attends school down south and this trip up here this month was the first time she had seen snow.
Here is my Mom heading down the hill. This is only her third time down this hill in her life. Most of us(our family) have gone down it hundreds of times but usually when we had sledding parties she would be busy in the house. Also I don't think sledding was really her "thing" but she seemed to be having fun yesterday.

And here is my very handsome husband who had a blast sledding in more ways than one. When getting to the bottom of the hill you would generally get an enormous spray of snow that would sometimes make you almost impossible to see by those above. Ken chose at least once to slide down face first and he really got a blast in the face.
Here are Linson and Priya (from India) and Megan. Priya, Megan and Aaron were the only ones who didn't go down the hill. I had thought I would take Megan but when I went down with Jonathan we ended up rolling over each other quite a bit. We were fine but I didn't think that would be a good idea with Megan. Aaron and Priya decided they didn't want to try it.
After sledding we went in and Mom and her helpers (Pei Lin, Priya and Keren) had a yummy lunch waiting for us. We all got quite stuffed. I helped to clean up and then we headed home for some nice naps.

We had supper at our house. Pretty much everybody that had been at Mom and Dad's came over to our house. We had a total of 18. We set up two table together and were able to fit everybody around. Mara and Keren tied up the silver ware in the napkins with a red ribbon and attached a little bell to it. Mom provided little nut cups. We decided it would be fun to eat by candlelight so we lit all the candles that I had in the living room, put a bunch of candles on the table and brought out one of the candelabras Dad had made for our wedding and had it in the corner of the dining room. It looked very pretty with all of the candles.

I made this for the occasion as well. I have a mold to make a swan ice sculpture and then I put it on top of a block of ice. It didn't turn out as well as usual but It was still fun.

We set up a buffet for the food. This picture doesn't look to exciting but the food was yummy. Mom and Co. had brought stuff to help. We had: Ham, Pork Roast, Smoked fish (which Dad had smoked), potatoes, carrots, green salad, fruit salad, oriental salad, fresh whole wheat bread, olives, and pie.

Here is Pei Lin, a friend from Malaysia.

Ken and I. Our happy table full.

Monday, December 24, 2007

A good weekend

We had a fun and busy weekend. (That is why I wasn't posting, Sorry!) On Friday Keren was over and we had fun making gingerbread men.
Everybody was helping. With 6 bakers it can be a little interesting but fun!!
We cut out big men and little men (and a few other shapes that had to be tried out). The recipe we used was one I had never tried before but was quite good. I got it out of the Relish magazine and here is the link to it. The one thing we did different was we used over 1/2 whole wheat flour, which was quite good. I also doubled the recipe.
On Saturday we frosted them. We gave pretty much all of the cookies away. We had fun taking most of them to church on Sunday night and passing them out. Here is one packaged up for a single person (tied to the card).
Here is a family of gingerbread.
On Saturday I had fun making Christmas cards. I made some like the one above and some that were similar. Ken really liked them so I was happy. I had run out of the color pictures that I had gotten, so I printed some on glossy card stock in black and white. I then used black card stock or paper for the card. I embossed snowflakes in silver and sparkly clear and decorated with them. For the inside I had printed (on the computer) on regular paper:
"For a child will be born to us,
A son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6
I also put a greeting. I sent these out to local people (I took them to the post office on Saturday and I am hoping that they might have made it today. In normal times the mail goes that fast but I am not sure about at Christmas time. We also gave cards to people at church.
On Saturday I also did some shopping. Aaron and I went to the farm and got milk in the morning. It was fun to have the one on one time with him. After naps on Saturday I went by myself and did some shopping. I went to JC Pennys because I had two coupons for $10 off a $10 purchase. I found the brand of Jeans that Ken likes (the only ones he will buy) on sale for $19.99 and so with my coupon I got them for $9.99. Yea! I then went to the girls section (I had to have 2 separate transactions to use both coupons) and found a pair of jeans for Mara (she was low on pants) on sale for $11.99. With my coupon they were only $1.99! I also went to Walmart for the first time in over a month (I have decided to conserve on time that I will only go there once a month). There I bought a big grocery cart full of stuff, 1 Christmas gift and the rest were food and other necessities. Then I picked up some sale items at another grocery store. All in all the shopping went well.
On Sunday we went to church, had lunch and then naps. Here is my sweet Megan sleeping. I also had time to work on various projects in the afternoon.
After evening services (at which we sang a lot of Christmas carols ~I played the piano, Luke the guitar, Keren the violin and Jake the drums) we went over to the Hymes for a Holiday party. They had a lot of snacks and we all brought snacks to share. They served their delicious punch of Egg nog, strawberry ice cream and 7-up. Yummy!!! Here is a picture of my mom, Megan and Mara who all looked lovely in their red and green.
Five of us had a blast playing Jenga! By the end off our game we had a large crowd watching us and holding their breaths with every move. This is a very fun game!! We got it up to 31 stories tall. I guess if you are very good you can get it to 36. I don't think we did to bad!! :-)
What fun stuff did you do this past weekend?

Friday, December 21, 2007

Frugal Gift # 12 ~ Scrapbooked Calendars

Calendars has been a gift that I have made quite a few times for Ken's parents. They live on the West Coast and we don't get the see them real often so they love to have lots of pictures. I simply print out calendar pages on Card stock. I have a program that will do that but I also found printable calendar pages here
I use pictures that I have collected throughout the year. Sometimes I cut them in various shapes (I love using my Creative Memories shape cutters.) I then like to add stamped designs and this year I enjoyed putting verses on every page. You can also let your kids draw pictures or perhaps do it yourself. I am sure there are many ways you could bind it. I like to use clear tape and carefully put each page together, making sure everything lined up straight. The last step is to carefully punch a hole in each page. Make sure it is centered and not to near the edge where it would be easy to tear through.

I recently finished another calendar for Ken's Grandmother and I intended to take pictures of it as well, but I was in a hurry to get it sent off and I forgot all about taking pictures.

This is a great gift for somebody that doesn't really need anything but loves to see pictures of their family.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Coldstone Creamery's Birthday Gift

A while back Ken and I splurged and went to Coldstone Creamery, while there I noticed they had a birthday club. When I got home I signed up and then for my Birthday they sent me a coupon that was good for a week. The coupon is good for a free Love it creation. When I went to get it I decided to get it to go and then I would share it with those I was with. The server was a little lonely and lacking in business I think on that cold day in December and she went a little overboard in her serving. We didn't really care though. We ended up with a lot more ice cream than we anticipated. Very yummy!!

Free 8x10 picture at Walgreens

Just tomorrow you can get a free 8x10 print at Walgreens. Just enter the coupon code VERYNICE . Last month they had this deal as well. It worked just fine. What is nice is that you don't have to go to the store tomorrow, you just have to go online upload the picture you want and then when you check out online enter the coupon code and then just chose the store nearest you to pick it up at whenever you want.

You could also have the print sent to a store near somebody else whom you would like to give the picture to and they could pick it up. What a very frugal gift!!!

The Winner!

Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway! Megan and Mara worked together to draw a name this evening and Tracy is the winner. Congratulations Tracy!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Works for me Wednesday ~ Remembering what is important

Today I had big ideas of what I wanted to get accomplished.I started working hard at it and then I realized that I was getting a little stressed and before long I would be crabby and then the kids would get crabby too. I needed to step back and think about what was really important and what really needed to get done right now.

I don't know about you but this is something I face fairly often. I love to be busy and I love to get a lot done. My brain also works very fast coming up with enough ideas to keep many people busy. There have been many times that I have let all of my ideas bring me to the point that I am stressed and the whole household is grumpy. This is something that I realize is not at all good and so I have been working on how I deal with my goals. I am learning to recognize when I am starting to feel stressed and then step back and think about my priorities.

What I had planned to get done was this: Finish getting the Christmas letters out, bake bread, bake something to take to all the people on the street ( I was thinking cinnamon rolls), bake something to take to all our local friends (I was thinking possibly ginger bread families and a breakfast bread), Make Christmas cards to go with the baked goods,Do our schooling for the day (We have a morning singing, memorizing and prayer time and then I need to help them with their other lessons.), Watch two rowdy boys of some friends for the morning, Make sure that my house stayed nice and neat, Prepare my class for church tonight, and have a ladies bible study here this afternoon. I also wanted to get the boys' room cleaned for pictures to post today for works-for-me-Wednesday.

When I write out the list now I can realize how ridiculous it was to plan that much to do, but yet I do that. Thankfully I was able to realize the ridiculousness in time and instead of doing all that I thought about what my priorities were.

First of all I want to please God and if I am stressed and crabby that is not pleasing to Him. So I knew that some things needed to go.

Next I want to please my husband, He enjoys it when I get a lot done but mostly he wants a nice place to come home to, children that have been taught their school and a meal ready and waiting AND a happy wife. To satisfy that I did try to keep the house fairly neat and we did do school.

I also want to be a good Mother. That meant I had to stay relaxed and cheerful. So I worked on keeping my voice low and then I made sure I spent time with them.

I also had a commitment to teach class and have bible study so I made sure to have time for them. I also baked our bread for the week.

I did also work on getting our letters out. I am not finished with it yet, but I am not worrying about that. What I really like about letters is finding out what is going on in other's lives and possibly seeing pictures. I don't care if it comes before Christmas or not.

About the baking. I did not get it done. I had wanted to do that as a way to reach out to people that don't know the Lord and just to encourage others. I would still like to do it but I am not going to get stressed out with my family in order to do it. So if I have time I will but if not that is okay.

I just wanted to encourage you too, that when you are feeling stressed about all the many things going on in your life, to step back and figure out what is really important. It works for me!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas Recital

On Friday evening we had our Christmas recital. It went well and was a lot of fun. I don't have a lot of students right now and one of them was sick but we still had a fun time with music with the group that was there. Every student played at least one solo and then we had several different groups that played. I did some duets and other groups with them as well. At the end I my dad led a few carols while I played the piano and a few of my students played the violin. Afterwards I had snacks to eat. We all had a fun time visiting together.
I had fun decorating with very easy and economical for the recital. I used a lot of vases and put greenery and pine cones in it to set on the tables. I got this idea from my friend Emily.
I put this together for the stage area. You could also do something like this for a centerpiece on your table. This is simple because you simply put a soaked piece of oasis in a bowl with some water and tape it in. Then stick one or more candles in the middle. Fill in all over with fresh greenery. Then you can add flowers (I used some silk ones that I had on hand), pine cones (they could be painted gold or silver) and anything else that you like. I put a little horn in to go along with the music of the night. You could also put in ornaments, tiny wrapped gifts, etc. You can get very creative.
This was my basket that I used to store pine cones in, but I had been using up most of my pine cones in decorating so I stuck some extra greens in it. It ended up looking kind of neat with greens and pine cones and so I made a bow and stuck it on as well and used it for decoration. Very, very simple!
Do you have any very simple decoration ideas for the holiday?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Frugal Gift # 12 ~ Clothespin dolls

This was Jonathan's afternoon project today: Clothespin dolls for Megan's Christmas present. This is pretty simple and fun project and a gift that I know Megan will love. All you need is old fashioned clothes pins, fabric scraps, yarn for hair, hot glue gun, glue and Magic markers to make the face. You can also use ribbon, lace and other odds and ends to make them fancier. Jonathan drew the faces, cut the hair and cut out scraps for clothes and I glued them all together. To make different sizes of dolls we just cut some of them shorter.

We had made this set a little over a year ago when we were studying a lot about pioneers. We had tons of fun making the claim shanty, furniture, covered wagon, outhouse, people, well, root cellar, etc. We still have this and the kids enjoy playing with it. We do treat it carefully and keep it up on a shelf when not being played with as the house isn't super sturdy. This is incredibly cheap to make (use whatever you have on hand and a glue gun) yet it can provide hours of fun.
It was tons of fun for all of us to work together to make it. Everybody had a new idea for something that we definitely needed. We were trying to think of what the Ingalls would have had and limiting ourselves to that. I hope you have as much fun as we have with this simple toy.

Make sure you don't miss my DVD giveaway!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Alphabet Adventures ~ recap

We really did have a lot of fun with our alphabet adventures last month. The kids are asking when we are going to do it again. I had taken quite a few pictures and then hadn't gotten around to sharing them with you so here they are.
This was, can you guess? "G" day. We had to wear green, gray and gold.
On "J" day we had to tell jokes. Our favorite one of the day was: "What goes "Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Plop?" Answer: "Somebody laughing his head off."
This is some Lefse that I made for breakfast on "L" day. Lefse is a big thing here in Northern MN with a lot of people (I believe it is Scandinavian), but I had only made it once with an older friend. This was my first time to make it by myself and with the first one I decided there was a reason that not a lot of people make it but the making got better. They ended up turning out quite yummy!
Here is our pretty and petite Megan dressed in purple and pink for "P" day. We enjoyed having People over to visit for the noon meal that had a lot of "P" dishes. One of our visitors was "Prince" Patrick.
Here is Queea (Mara's doll that she got and named when Jonathan was born -a little before she was 2, and who has been part of the family ever since) dressed as a queen for "Q" day.
We had to read some quotes this day, here is one for you: "Kindness makes a fellow feel good whether it's being done to him or by him." Frank A. Clark

Running a race on "R" day.
My sister Martha sent the boys sailor hats just in time for "S" day! (They are also wearing scarlet shirts.)

Here is Mara on "U" day with an upside down cake that she baked herself. She is also wearing an umber shirt.

Well I had better head to bed! Good night!

The Message

"Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.

Don't burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don't quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive to hospitality.

Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they're happy; share tears when they're down. Get along with each other; don't be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don't be the great somebody.

Don't hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you've got it in you, get along with everybody. Don't insist on getting even; that's not for you to do. " I'll do the judging," says God. "I'll take care of it."

Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or it he's thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise hi with goodness. Don't let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good."
Romans 12:9-21

My sister Keren just gave me a "Message" New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs. I had said something about wanting to get one and the next thing I knew she had gotten one for me. Thanks Keren! I have enjoyed hearing others read from the Message over the last couple of years. Though I wouldn't use it for my regular bible (I like the NAS for that) it is really fun to read from too. It makes you sit back and think about verses that you have heard all your life. Check out Keren's post that made me want to get the Message even more.

What version do you like best for studying from? How about for reading from? What do you think of the Message?

Frugal Gift # 11 ~ Basketball hoop

I thought I would share this not so much because I think you all want a homemade basketball hoop but because I just wanted to share with you the fun we have had with kids making presents for each other.
Jonathan made this for Aaron for his birthday. Aaron loves balls and all sports and this was a perfect fit for him. Jonathan cut out the cardboard (I helped a little with the pattern) and colored it (you can kind of tell that wasn't his favorite part). We took the lid to an ice cream bucket and I cut out the inside and Jonathan attached the old orange bag to it and then we attached it to the cardboard. Jonathan used some of his blue duck tape (one of his birthday presents as he loves tape and crafting.) to put around the edges. We put some Velcro on the back so that it could be hung up on their bunk bed. All in all it was a fun project and Aaron liked it.
I have had so much fun helping the kids make gifts for each other. They love to craft and they love secrets and special times with mom. It is fun to watch them think about what somebody might like and then strive to create it. I try to keep an eye out for gifts that kids can make so that I can help them with ideas. Our kids have always been good siblings (they truly care for each other and are generally very good at sharing) but helping them give each other gifts that they put time into has truly been a blessing. They also enjoy making gifts for Ken and I. It is such a fun surprise to get all these little packages on Christmas morning filled with various little crafts that they put together. I think having them make homemade gifts makes them think about the recipient more than just going out and going shopping for a gift. That is just my opinion, what do you think?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Clothing your family frugally

We have been so blessed with being able to clothe our family of 6 with a very minimal amount of money. I am often so amazed at how abundantly God blesses. This past month has been one of those times when I have been in awe of His abundant way of doing things.

One of the main ways we get clothes is through hand-me-downs. We don't go around asking for them but still they come and we are thankful. The picture below is an example of the clothes that were given to us last week. With hand-me-downs we often cannot use everything we are given but we try to graciously receive whatever is given to us, then we go through it and find the clothes we can use now, wash them up (It might be kind of silly but I always like to rewash any clothes we get) and put them in the drawers. I also look carefully through the too big clothes and try to decide if it is something that would be worn in a year or so. These also I wash up and then I put them in a box and label them with the approx. sizes and whether it is for boy or girl and then put them in the kids closet. In this way when a child grows out of his clothes we have quick and easy access to a bunch of "new" clothes. It is much quicker than going on a shopping trip.

When going through the clothes I also look for possibilities for remaking of clothes. For instance this week I was given a skirt that I am not interested in for myself but it had fabric that Mara will really like. I plan on making it into a skirt for her. I have also made big men's pants into pants for the boys, big dresses into little dresses, exercise pants into swimsuits, etc.
Also while going through the clothes I will take out any that have holes or stains, that I don't think anybody will want to wear (I is common to get this stuff in the hand-me-downs as well, but don't complain, just do something with it.) These I turn into rags, quilts or rugs OR (Gasp!!) I simply throw it away.
With the stuff that is left I try to think of somebody else who might be able to use it. I then pass it on to them. I also do this when we have simply been given way more than we can use (I am really trying to steer clear of overflowing drawers). If I can't think of anybody in the right size I will save it for a garage sale or donate them.
If you aren't given hand-me-downs but would like some, these are a few ideas that I have: Volunteer to help with a group garage sale. When it is over and there is usually a lot of clothes left offer to help get rid of them. I have also noticed clothes being offered on Freecycle. Also if you hear of somebody that is has gone through their closets and has clothes that they are wanting to don't be shy, offer to take it off their hands.
Other ways we get clothes cheaply is to: Sew, shop at 2nd hand stores, go garage saleing, and shop sales. Ken's clothes are mostly bought new on sale and we buy a few other things that way as well. I go to garage sales and 2nd hand store rarely but I am amazed how God blesses the times I do go and I have been able to find things that we need for very good prices. Sewing I use mainly for dress clothes and aprons.
What is your favorite way to clothe your family without breaking the budget?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Giveaway!!!

I am so excited! Vision Forum is letting me hold a giveaway on my blog.

You have a chance to win "The League of Grateful Sons" DVD. This sounds like a fascinating story about men in World War 2 who remained faithful to God in the midst of war. Click on the picture to find out more.

This sounds like a wonderful DVD for using in your homeschool or just to enjoy watching. Great fun for all the World War 2 history buffs.

If you haven't ever visited Vision Forum site you should check it out. It is the kind of place that I start drooling over. :-) They sell products that portray a love of God, family and country. They have very neat stuff.

To Enter the contest please leave a comment below. Please make sure that I have a way to contact you (your name linking to your blog or an e-mail address), so that if you win I can get your mailing information so that the DVD can be sent to you.

You can enter the giveaway through December 19. After that we will randomly select a winner. So have fun!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Works for me Wednesday ~ Family room solutions

This morning I thought I would share how we made everything fit in our family room. Ken has a very big desk set and we also wanted to have chairs, a treadmill (that Ken uses every morning!), and the TV in this area and were a little perplexed on how to make it work. We decided to pretty much make it into two rooms.
When you get downstairs you first see this area (above) where the desk is.
Ken is always wonderful about keeping his desk clean and neat. So it is a nice looking area. This is where are computers are so it is out in the open which is nice.
This other bookshelf (the narrow one to the right) is also in this area. On this we keep a lot of our homeschooling books.
This (above)is the other side of the desk. The bookshelves are what creates the wall. Here is where we keep most of our books. We love books and I am sure we are going to have to get more and more books shelves over the years but for now this holds most of them. (I have decided to try to utilize the library more and not buy as many books however).

This is the other side of the room. We were able to make it so the windows were in the room with the chairs and the books, rather than causing glare on the computer screen.
Anyway that is our solution that works very well for us!
This room still needs to be decorated which is in the works. I will try to share pictures when I get done.
Check out more solutions for everyday problems at work for me Wednesdays.


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