Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Keren's Birthday projects

Earlier this month was my baby sister's birthday. We were graciously invited over to celebrate so before hand we were of course quite busy with projects! Here are some of the projects we worked on:
I sewed together an apron, copying the pattern of one I received from a friend. It was fun to do it in fall colors.

Mara diligently worked to write a story about a fairy named Cosmos which she then typed up, made into a book and illustrated and she dedicated it to her aunt. She even carefully colored a fairy picture to use as wrapping paper.
Jonathan pounded some flowers onto fabric to make a picture which I then helped him to put onto a box. He also made a set of cards to go inside.
Aaron also made something but just now I can't remember what. Megan made a card. Birthdays are fun! They give us great incentive for being creative. We are actually enjoyed a birthday today as well -Mara turned 10 today. I wasn't terribly creative for this birthday but Jonathan was, I will have to share about that later. We also enjoyed a home Circus tonight which I will have to post pictures of too.
But back to Keren's birthday. Keren had fun being creative for her birthday as well and we came over to a beautifully decorated back yard where supper was held. Here are a couple of pictures:
Table clothes, lights, candles, flowers and even fancy chair covers!

I never realized how elegant clover could be. :-)

What projects do you have going on?

Sunday, September 27, 2009


"Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much."
James 5:16

When reading through the book of James there are so many things that speak to me and encourage me or challenge me. The verse above is one that challenges me. Especially the confess your sins to one another part. I totally believe that I need to confess my sins and I do that to God on a daily basis but the confessing to one another part.... that doesn't happen so much. I think about it sometimes and then something inside me makes me feel a little scared, shy, timid, PROUD, I don't know what all but then I shrink back from sharing and asking for prayer.

This is something I want to change. That doesn't mean this blog will become this tell all place (As far as I am concerned that isn't what blogs are for, I hope to make this an encouraging and uplifting place) but in life with my family and close friends and brothers and sisters at church, I want to be open with my struggles. Be willing to admit that I have problems and failures and then ask for prayer. It says that prayer can accomplish much and I really, really believe that but why do I not make use of that prayer to the full extent?

How about you? What do you think on this verse? Does it challenge you too or is it something that you have practised and seen the benefits of?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Homemade dishwasher detergent and other natural cleaners

In our household we have slowly been making the change from normal chemical and sodium lauryl sulfate laden cleaners to those that are more natural. It has been a gradual process but we are making headway! If I were to go out and buy cleaners that don't have chemicals or SLS I would have to pay quite a bit, so I have been happy to find various recipes that allow me to make my own stuff for quite a bit less.

The latest thing that I have tried making is Dishwasher Detergent. I found the recipe over at "Blessings Overflowing". I had to go out a buy liquid Castile soap but otherwise it was normal kitchen ingredients. I found the Castile soap at our health food store (where you could buy it from a bulk container) and they had 3 different scents (scented with essential oils, not perfumes) Eucalyptus, Lavender and Peppermint. I chose peppermint and have really been enjoying it. It makes our whole kitchen area smell wonderful while the dishwasher is going. Since the soap already had a scent, I left the tea tree oil (which is good for disinfecting but also has a scent ) out of the recipe as I didn't want to get to many scents mixed together. If the Castile soap you find doesn't have peppermint oil in it, I am sure you could add it on your own if you so desired.

The recipe was very easy to mix up and it is easy to store. I decided to use an old oil jar. And what is really neat about it is that it works! I have tried my own detergent recipes in the past that have not been successful so I am very happy about that! I actually think it works quite a lot better than the Cascade that I had been using, and it smells so much better!

Other ways that we have become more natural are:
  • Making my own Laundry Soap with this recipe from the Simple Dollar. This has saved me a lot of money! I also like not having to shop for detergent, whenever I need more I simply pull out the simple ingredients and make another batch. I don't necessarily think this works better than store bought stuff but it works okay and I really appreciate that it is more natural and way cheaper!
  • Baking Soda for scrubbing toilets, sinks, etc. This works great and is a great deal!
  • Baking Soda instead of toothpaste. I don't do this 100% of the time but I do a lot and it works just fine.
  • Vinegar rinse instead of conditioner. This has been working lovely. I also have tried the No'poo method, using baking soda instead of shampoo. This work for a while but then I started having some difficulties and when I tried it again lately the baking soda really bothered my scalp. I am hoping to make this homemade "shampoo" soon and try it.
  • We do also use natural Melalucca products for shower cleaning, windows, to spray on the toilet, etc. It lasts a long time but when I run out of that I will probably experiment with some homemade recipes. (Though I am pretty attached to their shower cleaner as it works very well with hard water stains!)
  • For mopping I simply use warm water with vinegar.
  • To avoid SLS we also don't buy soft soap but rather use bar soap for washing hands and washing up while showering.
  • Currently I am still using normal dish soap but I was given this recipe and will probably try it soon:

Shred 2 bars of Octagon Soap (have you ever heard of this?) into 4 1/2 to 5 quarts water in a pot on the stove. Heat it until it dissolves. Then turn stove off and add 1 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup washing soda and 1/4 cup lemon juice. Stir. When cooled pour into sealed containers. It says it doesn't suds as much but it will get the dishes clean.

I am curious to hear any more ways to make natural cleaners, especially if they are frugal too!

What do you do at your house?

For more frugal tips visit Life as Mom.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

WFMW: Clothes basket fix

I have a wicker laundry basket that I was given as a highschool graduation present, which
means that it has been around for a while. :-) It also was falling apart. But if you know me, I hate to waste things and I hate to just throw things away if there is possibly any life left in them. So a couple nights ago Megan and I got busy and fixed it!
I took raffia and wound it all around the top while holding the fallen of wicker in place.

TADA! Now it is sturdy and ready to use for quite a few more years I hope! I am quite happy to have prevented one more thing from heading to the landfill! Fixing it Works for Me!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Glimpses of Jackpine

Ken at his "office". Always work to do!
Hair getting fixed by Grandma.
Blokus, a game we learned and enjoyed while there.Fun times with Christy, Kent and Kade.
The girls tried their own version of the game.
Some sweet and tired (and dirty!) kids. One mama with limbs falling asleep too!

Bea snuggled up on Auntie Keren's lap after trying to cuddle up with my bunch but couldn't quite get comfortable. We were taking care of the 3 oldest Edwards kids too. (The whole family couldn't come as Gregory was pretty sick.)

Keren and Matt doing dishes.
Brandt had some good sermons from the book of Jonah.
The boys played in the fire a lot during services but when a question was asked you would find out they were really listening too.
Time to pack up and go home.

Thanks be to God for the wonderful weather, the good messages and singing, yummy food and fun times with friends!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Giving Thanks

1 Chronicles 16:8-11
"Oh give thanks to the Lord,
call upon His name;
Make known His deeds among the peoples.
Sing to Him, sing praises to Him;
Speak of all His wonders.
Glory in His holy name;
Let the heart of those who seek the Lord be glad.
Seek the Lord and His strength;
Seek His face continually."
Ann at Holy Experience hosts Multitude Monday where she is counting 1,000 (actually she is past that) gifts that have come from above. Writing lists of things that I am thanking God for is something that I do every morning in my prayer journal and I have found it to be a wonderful way to start the day, I thought it would be fun to join in this counting up of God's blessings online as well as my normal way, adding some pictures and just sharing with you all a few of the ways God is blessing us.
And so my Online list begins:
1. Autumn and everything that comes with it like just picked apples!
2. A sweet daughter and the yummy supper she cooked for us.

3. Cookbooks that were a gift to Mara from Ula our 95 year old friend. The top cookbook (copyright 1965) has been a big inspiration to Mara and made her very interested in cooking.

4. My sweet little sister recently turned 18.

5. God's majesty displayed just a little bit in the things He has made. How awesome are your works Oh God!

6. Diligent workers!

7. A new homemade dishwasher detergent that works and makes the house smell delightfully of peppermint. I am truly loving it!

8. Trees! Tall white birches, evergreens and poplar, I love all kinds of trees! Thank you God for their beauty, their shade and their usefulness!

9. Pictures that make me always smile!

10. Lots of lovely rain today that is so good for our garden.

11. God's love and forgiveness.

holy experience

That is just the very beginning of the list.... What are you thankful for?

Sunday, September 20, 2009


"A friend loves at all times,
And a brother is born for adversity."
Proverbs 17:17
This weekend we were blessed to be able to go up north to the Jackpine Retreat, a rustic family camp that we go to every year. God has blessed so very much in many ways but standing out among those blessings is great friends and family. I love getting to go spend time with them. Relax together, have fun together, sometimes go through hardships together (cold rainy years have a way of forming bonds!), laugh together, learn together and worship God together. God didn't create us to go through life all alone and for that I am very thankful!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The case of the missing Bananas

We have in our family a little girl that loves to pack. She isn't what you call a light packer either. I guess she comes by that honestly, I don't think I have ever been accused of that either.

Megan likes to pack for any event, even just going to town or to church. She and Mara have a bunch of purses and tote bags that she loves to pull out and fill with stuffed animals, dolls, craft items, who knows what all. There are many times that I need to take stuff places, for instance craft stuff for class at church or food for fellowship dinner and when Megan sees me "packing" then she really gets in the act and packs a bunch too. I will go out to the van to find the front seat just loaded with her bags.

Anyway on to the story. Just one month ago (on the 15th) was the funeral of our dear friend Opal. It was a very busy day at our house as I also had a wedding to do flowers for so the morning of the funeral I was getting flowers ready and getting food packed up for the lunch after the funeral. To be very honest other than helping the kids get dressed appropriately, they were rather on their own.

At breakfast I had a bunch of bananas sitting on the table to be eaten if desired but nobody did and off we went to the funeral (my dear husband delivered the wedding flowers for me!). When we got to the church building we unloaded the stuff for lunch and all went in. Once in Megan wanted to go back outside and said something about bananas. I wasn't paying to much attention to her but said she needed to stay in and that we hadn't brought any bananas.

Fast forward to later at home. I was looking for a snack and thought of the bunch of bananas. Where were they? I couldn't find them anywhere. Aha! Maybe that is why Megan was talking about them. I looked in the van. Not there. Did Megan get them out after the funeral? Maybe they were at the church building. I looked the next day but didn't see them anywhere. I figured maybe she put them somewhere outside and decided not to worry about them.

Fast forward a week or so. I was in the girls walk in closet and their was this faint fruity smell. What was it? Is it bananas? "Mara, I think you had better clean out your closet." So Mara cleaned it like most 9 year olds clean. No bananas. We forget about it.

Fast forward to last week. "Mara, your closet smells like banana bread! Do you remember those missing bananas? Do you think....?" "Please clean your closet really thoroughly!"

"Sorry Mom, no bananas."

At this point I really should have taken the time to help thoroughly clean as a Mom can sometimes clean a little better than a 9 year old but I was a little busy so....

This week on Tuesday, exactly one month after the funeral, I went in their closet and it smelled bad! Not like banana bread anymore this was yucky, rotten bananas! It was cleaning time!!

Out came everything and as I was moving the shoe rack which held the bags on the top shelf a swarm of fruit flies fluttered up to meet me. I do believe we are finding the location! Sure enough, in a bag which was underneath other bags was a black soft mess of very old bananas! The missing bananas were found and they quickly got deposited in the trash!

*In case you were wondering why we didn't get Megan's assistance in finding them in the first place, I think we tried. Often when we ask Megan to show us where something is (which we greatly suspect she has mislocated) we usually get led on a wild goose chase going inside, outside, upstairs, downstairs and on and on, all the while she appears to be very confident that we will run across it any moment.

Linked up at We are THAT family to celebrate her 2nd Blog anniversary.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Surprise Ken/Daddy Project

This past week Ken and his Dad went to Washington D.C. to participate in the March on Washington. He left Wednesday after supper and came back Sunday night. While he was gone the kids and I decided to try to fix things up around here to surprise him. It was a fun but super busy (which is why I haven't been posting!) project. I thought it would be fun to share with you all.

We did a little before hand prep by going shopping on Tuesday and buying a new slipcover (I splurged and spent $50 at Target) for our love seat downstairs and we also bought a gallon of brown paint ($34) at Home Depot.


This is the boy's dresser which we picked up at a garage sale. The top was not very desirable but I always figured I could do something with it. However I never got anything done. It was something Ken didn't like to much so I put that on the list.

We got a jump start on this and started working on it on Wednesday while Ken was at work and we figured he wouldn't go in the boy's room while he was home for supper.

I have been working to get the boys' room decorated with geography stuff so we decided to go with that theme for the top of the dresser. I pulled out some old National Geographics and we had fun looking through them and cutting out pictures which we then modge podged on top. I also painted the sides of the dresser top dark blue.

The look is a little unique but we definitely had fun doing it, we used only stuff we had ($0) and when we get tired of it we can paint over it or something like that.

On Thursday we took a little break from home projects to work on gift projects, for a large part gifts for my little sister who turned 18. I will post more about those later.

PROJECT 2 (Friday)

Fixing up the Rocker. (Not a rocking chair but a lawn toy that the kids can sit on and rock- my brother made it several years ago.) This was a well enjoyed toy until one of the handles came off a year or so ago. For some silly reason we didn't get it fixed right away- partly because Ken was busy and I felt intimidated by the drill.
But I decided that it was time to go to work at it. It ended up being pretty easy!
After fixing the handle part the kids went to work at sanding it down and getting it ready for painting. Then they (with much assistance from me) went to work at painting it.

It looks ever so much better now, though I would like to give it another coat of paint! Cost was free as we used up paint we had left over from another project.

PROJECT 3 (Friday and touch ups on Saturday)
We had white doors in a white house and I thought they looked rather dull that way. Also they never actually had been painted, the white was just the primer they came with. So....
I painted them. I did two doors (and the little side thing) inside and out. I have one more door I need to do but didn't have time to tackle it this time. I had thought this would be a quick couple hour project but that was rather optimistic thinking. It ended up taking more like 5 hours for the first coat (and all the taping, etc.) and then the next day an hour or so more to give some main areas another coat and touch up places I missed. After taking the tape of I discovered some more areas I need to touch up but I haven't done that yet.

PROJECTS 4 and 5
This was in our family room. Ken's chair was one we bought second hand in the beginning of our marriage and it was looking terribly old. The love seat was a hand-me-down that still was nice to sit on but I didn't like the looks of very much. It was time to do something about it!

We put a purchased slipcover on the love seat so that was nice and easy but the chair was a bit of another matter. I wanted to recover it but to be honest I found the idea a little overwhelming. It was to the point that something had to be done, either I recover it or we just junk it and buy another one. So I figured if I get it torn apart and then can't recover it, it didn't make that much difference we would just buy a new one but it I could recover it then we would have saved a bunch of money.

So we decided to give it a try. Here Mara is helping to tear the old upholstery off. (All of the kids got to help with it.)

Here it is, in pieces. I had to take about 16 screws out (more practise for me with the drill).

Now the question: Will we get it back together again?

WE DID! Yea! The chair has a very different look now, as does the love seat. I decided to leave the skirt off of the chair as it would save time, take less fabric and just for the fun of a different look. The cost was nothing but time on the chair as the fabric had been given to me. Oh, we also had to use a bunch of staples to I guess they cost something but we had them on hand so I am not sure how much they cost.

The chair project we started on Saturday evening, we also worked on it on Sunday afternoon but after church on Sunday night we still had a lot to do. I decided we probably wouldn't get done before Ken made it back but we would still try. Ken was supposed to get home around 10 pm but he called around 9 and said it would be more like 11. The kids were eager to help get it done, some of them helped on the chair and others cleaned up the house so I could work on the chair. I decided they had better go to bed around 10 however but Jonathan pleaded to be able to help finish the project so I let him stay up until 11pm. At 11 we still weren't done but I sent Jonathan off to bed and then Ken calls and says he was running even later because he had to stop a few times because he was so tired. Anyway I kept working and I had just finished up and put the back on the chair when he pulled in the lane. It was perfect timing!

God really blessed throughout the time Ken was gone. I really don't prefer being a "single mother" (I am amazed by those who do it all the time!), but though we missed Ken we had a wonderful time working together to get the projects done. I had majorly overbooked us with all the projects (plus we had other engagements to go to each day as well) but God supplied us with extra energy and we made it!


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