Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Project show and tell

Today I thought I would tell about a hodge podge of projects that have been going on around here.

Let's get started...
 Some time ago I had noticed on some blog or another someone had mentioned using their itty bitty fabric scraps to stuff cushions which they then donated to an animal shelter. Well I have never liked to waste anything and so this idea sounded right up my alley. I knew from past experience that I didn't like stuffing pillows for us with this sort of scrap so making them for animals was the bright idea.

  I called our local animal shelter to check if this might indeed be something they would like to receive as a donation and they said "Yes.". So using some odds and ends of fabric to make covers (sturdy recycled clothing) I then proceeded to stuff all my old scraps (Scraps that were to small or simply wouldn't work for even tiny quilt pieces) in them. After they were sufficiently full I sewed them up.

  The 3 pillows that resulted aren't beautiful, super cushiony,  or works of art but I took them to the shelter and they were quite happy to receive them. Now I have started saving more scraps to make some more. I like having another way to throw away less and instead use it in a useful way.

The kids had fun making a twig fort this summer. I love having them work on simple projects like this where they can enjoy God's creation and breathe in the healthy good fresh air.

I recently made Jonathan some fleece socks out of an old sleeper. He says they are quite comfortable and I am looking forward to trying some more pairs out of other old clothes. This boy wears socks out so very fast, so if I can figure out ways to make them for him I am quite happy.

 After I do some more experimenting I will plan on posting patterns and instructions.

The kids have recently been wanting to get better at baking in hopes of selling their baked goods. We had a couple baking classes lately and they made Whole Wheat yeast bread, rolls, zucchini bread and cookies. They are really doing a great job and the results were very yummy!
Their biggest challenge is learning how to spotlessly cleanup the kitchen which I decided was a requirement if they were going to turn this into a business. I am happy to see them trying to accomplish goals and learn how to do useful things.

 This last picture is a project yet undone. In our living room the slipcovers of the two chairs are quite worn out and the curtains are shrunk and faded. The walls also need new paint. It is time to do something new!
I went and found fabric the other day (That took quite a while! Finding something I liked, thought was sturdy enough and didn't cost a fortune was a hard task!) and I bought the brown and green to make slipcovers with and Unbleached muslin (to use in combination with the unfaded parts of the old green plaid curtains) for new curtains.

  I also looked at paint colors and am thinking about ragging on some tan paint (the second lightest color on the swatch I think) over the cream paint on one wall. You can see the cream color in the background of the picture- I think I will repaint in that (cream) color on most of the walls. I had thought I would try and see if I could find a color I liked in Home Depots $5 oops paint, but I think I may be to impatient to wait for that. I want to paint before it gets so cold that I can't open the windows.

 Also in the picture above is part of our couch which will stay the color it is. We also have lots of green plants and some wood furniture in the room. For those of you that like to decorate I am curious what other colors you would add to the room? I am thinking maybe I could change a little bit every season by changing pillow covers, a floral arrangement and such.

 Do you have any ideas to share? I would love to hear them.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Thanks for Kleenex and laughter and so much more...

holy experience
"When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the Lord your God for the
good land which He has given you." Deuteronomy 8:10
And so my thanks continues for all the good things that God has blessed me with...
#692 Little nurse Megan who happily cared for Mara when Mara had a nasty bad headache.
#693 That Mara's headache went away after a little nap out in the fresh air.
#694 Chickens
#695 I am especially thankful right now for some former pen mates of the ones pictured above whom I helped my parents to butcher and some of which are now in my freezer.
#696 Beautiful weather for butchering- nice and cool and breezy.
#697 My fun boys who like to climb trees.

#698 And the girls too!

#699 A fun family evening at the community appreciation event put on by the University.

#700 A quiet and peaceful lake.

#701 Telephones.

#702 Figuring out ways to be less busy.

#703 A fun flower design class for an upcoming wedding. (The bride and her attendants and mother all came over and I showed them how to make the wedding flowers. It was fun even though I had a cold and wasn't feeling to wonderful.)

#704 Plenty of good clean water.

#705 Lemon juice and honey.

#706 Handkerchiefs and Kleenex.

#707 Hot showers.

#708 A soft pillow.

#709 Some good books.

#710 A very scary tiger to make me laugh. (She went with Ken to an event that all of us had planned to go too but several of us stayed home because we were sick. She came back with this face and wanted to wear it to bed so she could wear it to church the next day. :-)

#711 A God who we can totally be in awe of.

#712 The promise of heaven (an amazingly wonderful place!) some day.

What are you thankful for?

Sunday, August 29, 2010


 "The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!"
Everyone who hears this should say, "Come!"

If you are thirsty, come! If you want life-giving water, come and take it. It's free!"
Revelation 22:17

 Tonight at church we are planning on wrapping up our 3 months of teaching the kids from the book of Revelation on Wednesday nights. We are planning a special program to show some of the things we have learned as well as having snacks and other fun.

  As I was preparing for tonight I read the above verse and it really stood out to me as what God wants. He has so very much to give to us. He wants us to have what it good. He is offering it to anyone and it is free! We just need to be willing to take it!

  This verse is also for us who already said "yes" to God's free gift. We need to be busy telling others to "Come!". I want to do that more and I hope you do too.

  If you haven't accepted God's free gift, I highly recommend it! The bible explains all about it and if you have any troubles understanding, please feel free to e-mail me. I would love to talk with you about it.

  In my reading today I really enjoyed the entire chapter 22 of Revelation. I decided not to include all of it here as I know length sometimes stops people from reading posts but I recommend going and reading it!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Win some cool tags!

Hang tags from UPrinting

When Luigi from UPrinting asked me what I might be interested in hosting a giveaway for, I had fun going over to UPrinting to see all the cool things they offered. UPrinting is a great place to get your online printing done and they have all sorts of neat options.

  One of the things that caught my eye was their clothing hang tags.I started imagining all the fun ways they could be put to use. I have been thinking it would be fun to open up an etsy shop, and wouldn't my items look neat when they arrived with cute little tags on them?! Or I could make tags for my wedding floral business and then attach them to the pillows and baskets I have for sale as well adding them to all the boxes of boutonnieres and corsages I deliver. I think that would look pretty smart. Another fun idea I had was to use them as gift tags for presents. You could put a verse on them, a photo you had taken, a Christmas or Birthday greeting or anything of that nature. It would be very personal (You design them!) but yet they would be super quick and easy to use.

   That is just a few ideas, I'll bet you have a lot more!

So would you like to win some?

One winner  (18 years of age or over and a resident of the US) can win! You will receive:

 250 2x3.5 Hangtags w/ Hole Drilling
14pt Cardstock Gloss

3/16" Hole Drilling

4 Color Both Sides Printing

To Enter to win:

Please leave a comment explaining how you think it would be fun to use these tags. Please also include a way to contact you if you should win.

New or Old followers of my blog can have a second entry simply by leaving a comment explaining that you are a follower.

Have fun! This giveaway will be open until  Midnight (or somewhere close) Sept 1st.

 This giveaway is sponsored by UPrinting. The are providing the hang tags but I am not paid to write this post.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Saving money by doing less running (you know the running you do in a vehicle...)

Last night I was contemplating on what I should write about for Frugal Friday. We save money in many ways but I was trying to think of something I haven't written on before. The money saving tip that I thought of was: "Stay home more, combine errands and stay away from stores. :-)

  Okay,  maybe we don't have to completely stay away from stores though that probably would save quite a lot, but running to them less can help save money too. This is the way I was raised and I try to do that now that I am grown as well.

   My goal is to going shopping once a week at most (preferably every two weeks) and only go to the super Walmart (which is my major shopping trip), once a month. I also try to combine other errands together. For example: We are invited over to a friends home tomorrow. As we go there and back I also have come up with some other errands that need to be run such as: Pick up something at the church building, drop off recycling and buy some stuff for an upcoming wedding. That could have been 4 separate trips but instead I combine it all into one trip.

  The benefits I find in combining trips are this:
  • I save money on gas.
  • I save wear and tear on our vehicle.
  • I save time.
  • And I have less stress of rounding children up, getting them loaded and then unloaded many more times.
  Some things that help us to accomplish this a little easier are:
  • Keep a running list of things we need at the grocery store. That way when I do go I can get everything.
  • Keep a list of errands I need to run. So when I do have to go out I will remember what other errands I want to do at the same time.
  • Keep water bottles, snacks and kids magazines in the van so even if errand running gets long, the kids stay happy.
  • Avoid unnecessary trips to the store by being willing to substitute and make do. Here is a list of food substitutions you can make.
I am curious how often do you go to the grocery store? Or do you have any other tips to share for staying home more?

For more ways to save money have fun checking out all the Frugal Fridays links at Life as MOM.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Parenting with less stress {Children and Money}

 Today I thought I would write about money. Specifically children and money. Even more specifically, Do we give allowances or not?

 What is the best, easiest and least stressful way for kids to learn how to deal with money?

Sorry, I don't know the answers to all those questions but I thought I would share what we have done, and what has worked pretty well for us so far. That certainly doesn't mean that it is THE WAY to do it, it has simply worked for us.

  When kids are little they don't have much need for money. We provide for all their needs and many of their wants too. As they grow older their wants tend to grow a little perhaps and also they have this desire to buy things on their own, with their own money. Also we want them to learn how to deal with it, after all that is part of growing up.

  To be straightforward, we do NOT give allowances to our kids. Not that we think they are bad or anything, we just didn't see any good reason to just give out money like that. We are careful with our money and we expect to earn the money we have and so we thought our kids could learn to work for theirs too.

  When our kids started wanting money, we decided we would come up with special jobs to let them earn money. These jobs are above and beyond their normal jobs of keeping their bed made, their room clean and general household maintenance. Sometimes there were jobs that just needed done at the time like moving rocks (that job is over now) but sometimes they are jobs like mowing the lawn, cleaning the vehicles and things like that that need done on a regular basis. If the kids ask to earn money we generally will try to think of some special job they can do.

  We are not high paying employers and we do still want the job done well (we inspect!) but it is teaching the kids a little bit about the value of a dollar. It also gives them freedom to chose how to use their own money. We basically only buy toys for birthdays or Christmas but since they earn their own money the boys have been able to add several sets to their Lego collection this summer.

   Giving our children opportunities to work for us (which does help getting mundane tasks done around the house too!) has worked for us. I would love to hear how you deal with this issue and what has worked for you! I would love it if you would share in the comments.

visit We are that family

Monday, August 23, 2010


 Yesterday was Jonathan's 9th birthday. We had a wonderful day! The main reason (in my perspective) that it was so wonderful was because of Jonathan's attitude. He was full of gratefulness.

  As I was preparing for his birthday (getting gifts and such ready) I wondered if this would be a very exciting birthday for him. To me it felt like we had one gift I knew he would really like (Legos) but the others I wasn't sure that he would find terribly exciting (books and such). The kids had also made him gifts.

   On his birthday morning we gave Jonathan his gifts. He chose to open Megan's first. It was something she had come up with all by herself and made with just a tiny gluing help from Mara. It was a doll of sorts, made from Styrofoam. Now Jonathan is a boy and he is 9 and I don't think a Styrofoam doll was high on his lists of wants but you couldn't tell that when he opened the gift. He admired it and very sincerely thanked Megan. I was so proud of him!

  Then he opened a sword made from Popsicle sticks and foil from Aaron and admired it and thanked him and then the gifts from Mara and us. He sincerely admired and appreciated each and every one of them.

  After we ate our breakfast of waffles (a favorite around here) we headed to church. On our way there Jonathan remarked, "I think this is the best birthday I have ever had." The birthday as I have noted was nothing extra special but Jonathan was truly feeling grateful. That attitude continued all day long, he loved each gift received and all the food I prepared. He said next year he hopes to have another birthday just like this one!

  It is amazing how good we feel when we know that someone appreciates what we have done for them. This year in my wedding floral business I have had some other example of that. When I do flowers for somebody, they pay me to do it (though I have had fun doing friends flowers as gifts). I don't expect them to send a thank you note or anything of the sort. This year especially however it has been such a delight for me to receive e-mail and cards in the mail  saying thank you for the flowers and that they loved them.

  One that particularly surprised me was from a bride just 2 days after the wedding. She didn't even wait for the honeymoon to be over. Around a day later came another note from her mother whom I had never dealt with. They both thanked me and told me how much they loved the flowers. Their gratitude and appreciation made me feel so good.

   As I have been thinking about how much I appreciate people saying thank you, it makes me realize how much God probably wants to hear us say thank you. I do something for a client for a fee and yet they thank me, but God freely and abundantly blesses us and so often we forget to say thank you. In my life I want to always remember to say thank you!

  So here is part of the list I am thank-ful to God for....

#675 Stories read in the back of the van as we drive.

#676 A bit of shared laughter over the antics of Brer' Rabbit.

#677 Much zucchini shared with us.

#678 Willing helpers to process it all and get it in the freezer.

#679 Fun times being in a parade.

#680 Megan and all of us surviving her first driving lesson even though I and others had to help her steer pretty much all of the parade and holler for her to take her foot of the gas.

#681 Ken having a safe business trip.

#682 Ken being home with us again! How I miss him when he is gone!

#683 Summer- the time of many flowers.

#684 My growing up girl who has done dishes twice for me lately without being asked! She is such a sweetheart and I love her so. I am so thankful to God for the family He has blessed me with.

#685 A beautifully clean and quiet beach and lake.

#686 Friends that we can just spend time with and relax.

#687 Windy days for drying laundry on the line.

#688 E-mail notes from friends.

#689 The color green.

#690 Fresh herbs from the garden.

#691 Peace and rest in our God.

holy experience
What are you thanking God for this week?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Laughing and learning in Proverbs

A book of the Bible that has long been a favorite of mine is Proverbs. Some of the reasons are: it has short little sayings that are easy to understand, many of them make me chuckle yet while I am laughing I am learning too.

 I have been reading through Proverbs lately (and as I have a new Bible I have been having fun underlining all the ones that especially speak to me- it is rather fun to have a new Bible!) and have been finding many of those verse that make my chuckle but teach me at the same time. I thought I would share some of them with you too:

   When you read them you have to try and picture them too!

"It is better to live in a corner of the roof than in a house shared with a contentious woman." Proverbs 25:24 (and it wasn't good enough to have it just once, it is also in Proverbs 21:9)
This verse reminds me of the sort of wife I should be, I don't want Ken wishing that he was living up on our roof instead.

"Like a bad tooth and an unsteady foot is confidence in a faithless man in time of trouble." Proverbs 25:19
This is a reminder both on who we put our confidence in and also what sort of person we are. I certainly don't want to be compared to a bad tooth or an unsteady foot!

"Like one who takes a dog by the ears is he who passes by and meddles with strife not belonging to him." Proverbs 26:17
I think this is a reminder to "mind your own business".

"He who blesses his friend with a loud voice early in the morning, It will be reckoned a curse to him." Proverbs 27:14
Not everyone is a morning person.

"A constant dripping on a day of steady rain and a contentious woman are alike." Proverbs 27:15
I do not want to be like a drip, drip, drip.

Do you have any favorite funny proverbs? These are just a beginning!

Friday, August 20, 2010

More with less living

  I have been thinking lately of how many different ways we have learned to have more while spending less. I thought I would write about a few of those things today. So let's begin....

    This year I have enjoyed receiving good quality books in the mail to read and keep for free thanks to Book Sneeze. BookSneeze is a book review program for bloggers and they will give you books as long as you will review them on your blog. This is associated with Thomas Nelson publishers and so the books are "christian" books. I have enjoyed the books I have gotten and not only have I been able to enjoy them but I have also been able to pass them on to others to read and enjoy too.

   We look for and enjoy the beauty around us. I love having a pretty home, especially filled with fresh flowers. I could spend a lot of money to make that happen but I have discovered that there is beauty all around us even in plants we might look at as normal and mundane. This week my mint plants (which grow in abundance!) are blooming. It is a small bloom, nothing spectacular, but it is pretty. I filled a whole vase with peppermint and have it sitting in our entry way and it has helped to cheer me up every time I see it. With mint not only does it look nice but it also smells good.

   We have also enjoyed many wildflower bouquets picked by the children this summer. These bouquets don't cost anything but they certainly make us feel like we have "more"!

    Another way we have "more with less" is by really focusing on cooking with what we can get inexpensively and have in abundance. I have been able to spend less money than normal on groceries so far this year but we have been eating very well! Not only do we eat well but we are able to have company over frequently and feed them. We also have been able to share food with others. We have made full use of the berries, potatoes and other garden produce that God so abundantly supplies for us as well as other things we can get economically.

   Another way I have learned to use less in the last year is by making my own shampoo (along with the laundry soap I already made). The cost of making my own is way less than buying and it still does an okay job of taking care of my hair. With homemade shampoo I have also been able to quit using conditioner though I do rinse with apple cider vinegar occasionally.

   We enjoy doing a lot of crafting around here and we are able to do that because almost all our crafts are made out of recycled items. In the picture above some of the kids are holding sock puppets they made which would be one example of that.

   Another example is their shirts. My sister Keren invited them to do some tie dyeing with her and of course they wanted too. We could have gone to the store and purchased new shirts for all of them to dye but instead we looked through what we had. Megan and Jonathan had some stained shirts in their drawers which now look pretty nice thanks to the dye. Aaron's shirt and hat we found down in our stash of craft stuff, the shirt was a stained one that had been passed on to us but now it works just fine for him. Mara ended up dyeing a white cotton slip/skirt that I had made for her as well as a used onesie that we can now pass on to some baby. (The shirt she is wearing is one Keren did  for herself but it was then too small.)

   We also have been learning to have more with less in our recreation. Last year we paid to have the boys in baseball ($40 each) and we had to do tons of running and sitting around with that. This year we instead organized homeschool baseball where the parents help out with coaching, pitching and stuff. We have had such a wonderful time doing that this year and we have saved money and time too! This has definitely been a more with less experience for us.

   Remodeling clothes has been something else I have learned in order to have much more for much less. You can check out some of the ways I have done that in these posts: Some remodeled skirts of mine, Pants for Jonathan, Swimsuits and dresses.

   Another recent more for less experience was a play that our family went to. Our family really enjoys plays but the main theater in our town is pretty expensive so generally when we have gone it has just been Ken and I to go. Not only do the cost quite a bit but they often throw things into the plays (swearing, suggestive conversation) that I don't like so I have left many times when we have gone feeling disgusted that we spent a bunch of money to go. This summer I happened to read about a play that the community theater was putting on at the state park. It was supposed to be family friendly and it was free (except for the $5 park entrance fee). We went and had a great time. The play was well done ( though not quite professional) and it was  family friendly and free.

   I have also been learning ways to be able to give more gifts with less. We have been working on making a lot of homemade gifts which helps with that but there are some other ways we have been able to give more with less too. This year I have decided to think a bit differently about garage sale stuff and what a gift should be like. This year I have found a bunch of brand new looking books for 25 cents each. I bought them up to stock my gift cupboard. I also found some basically brand new looking baby socks (in a bag of 10 pairs for 10 cents!) and I used some of them to create a "flower" for the top of a gift that I gave. I also found a brand new (still wrapped) photo album for 75 cents that I was able to give away. This has enabled me to give more for a whole lot less!

  Another thing that has helped with my gift giving is by using swagbucks to earn Amazon gift cards. This allowed me to buy some Christmas presents for nothing and I am planning on using some to buy birthday presents this fall. There are various ways to earn swagbucks but I mainly earn them simply by using their search engine. Also any time somebody signs up under you then you will earn more. So if you haven't signed up to use it yet, I would love to have you sign up under me by simply going here.

   As I thought about having more with less I don't think there is anything that makes me feel like I am abundantly blessed than the ability to give to others. Even when we don't have a lot (and actually we do have a lot, we just need to realize it!) we can usually find some way to give whether it be money, time, or things. Giving can become quite addicting too!

  I would love to hear the ways you have found to have "more with less"!

For more Frugal ideas and tips visit Life as Mom


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Some skirt remodeling

    At the beginning of this summer I was really in the mood for wearing skirts. I had one that I particularly liked that fit very comfortably and came just a little below the knees. I own a bunch of other skirts too, but most all of them were long and didn't feel very summery. So I wanted some "new" ones.

    I wanted "new" skirts but I didn't really want to buy any so I started looking around at what I already had in my house. I came up with several things and I have fixed up a few skirts and have a few more that I am planning on making.  I thought I would tell you about a couple of them today.
This long skirt (above) was one of the ones I already had on hand. I thought the fabric was pretty but it wasn't the style I was wanting so I decided to change it. I cut it off to the length desired and then I decided to use the fabric from the bottom to make a couple of layers of ruffles.

 This was the end result (though I apologize for the dark picture!) and I am happy with it.

I added some ribbon above the ruffles and then decided to put on one of my flowers that I had made as well. Now both the style and the fabric seem Summery (or Spring like) to me.

This dress above my Mom sent over to my house thinking I might like it for something as she knew I liked Sailor/patriotic type stuff. I didn't want to wear it as is but I did like the colors and I decided to make a skirt out of it.

I ended up making skirts for both Megan and I. Megan's is pretty short ( I was using what I had left) so it worked well for her to wear over her red cotton knit capris. I still have some fabric left that I thought I would use for a doll skirt.

 We wore them on the 4th of July and when we walked in the parade, which is why I have candidates stickers all along the bottom of mine. :-)

  Skirts are so easy to make and it is easier yet to remodel something you already have. I love being able to make something "new" for my wardrobe in just an hour or so.

 I am linking these projects up to the link party at Tea Rose Home (a fun blog written by an excellent seamstress).

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Yummy, yummy food!

I love this time of year! The exploring the garden to see what can be found...

Being amazed at how fast plants can grow.

Managing to find my way through the many overgrown tomato plants. I think they were on steriods this year! I had quite a few of them in tomato cages but they grew about triple the size of the cages and then just collapsed them. So now I have around 40 plants sprawling all over the garden!
Picking and husking corn out in the garden.
The coolest things however is bringing fresh produce in and creating yummy meals for my family. I am so thankful to God for all the abundance He has blessed us with! We have enjoyed salads, corn on the cobb, beans fresh from the garden, mint tea, carrot sticks, many flaverful herbs and so much more.

Something else yummy that we had last week was homemade pizza. Homemade pizza is normal around here but this time I made the crust a little differently. I have my normal crust recipe posted here and normally I use part white flour and part whole wheat flour. Well I happened to be out of white flour so this time I used whole wheat flour and cornmeal and then I added an egg to the dough (and I kneaded in a little extra flour). I was very pleased because even though the crust was all whole grain and even a bit overbaked it was still nice and soft because of the egg. I am quite sold on this new additon!
Another yummy treat that we had lately was cooked, chunky applesauce thanks to Mom and Dad sharing some of their windfall apples! Oh how I love the smell of the apples and cinnamon cooking. It tastes so good too!

  Even though I have been hardly shopping at all this month we have been eating some of the yummiest meals ever. God is so good!

How have your gardens been growing?


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