Monday, February 28, 2011

Making Our Home a Haven

 It was fun to see last night that Monica who blogs at The Homespun Heart was planning on having a Make your Home a Haven week. I think it is fun to join in with other homemakers as we work on making our homes something that is welcoming to our family and others and a place where God is honored. It is my goal to try to have a home like that and I hope to encourage others in that as well. I like the idea of every so often really focusing on that goal and thinking and writing on it to help cement in me what I should do and how I should be. So I am joining Monica (and hopefully others) this week in striving to make my home a haven.

Last night I made sure to set my alarm clock so that I could get up in good time and get plenty of undisturbed prayer time. Often I just listen for Ken's alarm clock and then figure I still have a few more minutes and I often sleep later than I would like. So this morning I was up and out of bed at a bit before 7am. (still not that early but we aren't extremely early risers around here.)

I was able to spend some good time in prayer. One thing that I really wanted to talk to God about in depth was Jonathan and his math. He has been quite frustrated with it again lately which has caused me to get frustrated with him and then in turn he has not been happy with me. It hasn't been good and I needed God's help. I am happy to report that today's math lesson went quite a bit better!!! Praise God. I will continue to pray on this.

One of the verses that I spent time meditating on today was Ephesians 4:15 & 16 which says: "But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love." I have really been thinking lately about how we speak to one another in our home and wanting to make sure that it is full of gentleness, kindness and love and not ever words that will tear down (I posted about this yesterday too with some other verses that I am trying to emulate.) I have decided that we will talk about a verse like this each day this week and add it to our memory verses. We do want to grow up into Christ and be part of His body that works together in LOVE!

For breakfast I did add candles to the table (the flowers and pears were already there for decoration). Breakfast was Hash browns (which is a favorite of Ken's and all the kids) , eggs, grapefruit and milk. I am so happy that we can all eat together as a family (though Ken is usually in a hurry and out the door to work pretty quickly but at least we have a few minutes with him too).

 Monday's are my big cleaning and laundry day so besides our school work we:
  • are doing all of the laundry (as of now it is still in progress).
  • mopped.
  • cleaned the kitchen.
  • washed some dirty walls that were needing attention.
  • cleaned the upstairs bathroom.
  • cleaned the living room.
I am still hoping to work in my office and work some more on the project I have been really pursuing lately of getting rid of clutter. Last week I really worked on getting rid of clutter and made a lot of progress. I am exciting to get working on that again this week. I have been going through papers, clothes, e-mails and more. I am realizing more and more how much simpler it is to live with less stuff and when I only handle things like mail, etc once or as few times as possible.

 Those are some of the things I am working on to make my home a haven. What about you?

Organic Palm Shortening {Review and Giveaway!}

This giveaway is now closed. The winner is Rachelle!

The latest item that I was blessed to receive from Tropical Traditions for review is Palm Shortening. This is something I had never tried before and so I was curious about it. I would love to use all healthy fats and oils when I cook and bake for my family and so I was eager to try this one.

 I had tried Palm Oil a while back and was amazed at how orange it was and found the taste interesting. I knew that the shortening was made from Palm Oil so I wondered if it would have some of the same flavor and color. It does not. The Palm shortening is a creamy white and has pretty much no taste. I almost think you could pass it for butter if you made honey "butter" or garlic "butter". It is so much nicer than crisco or a shortening like that!

Here is some more informtation about it from Tropical Traditions:

"Palm shortening is derived from palm oil (read about Virgin Palm Oil here). In its natural state, palm oil is a mixture of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids, with most of the unsaturated fat being monounsaturated fat. Palm shortening is palm oil that has some of its unsaturated fats removed, giving it a very firm texture, and high melting point. The melting point of our Organic Palm Shortening is 97 degrees F., making it very shelf stable. It is NOT hydrogenised, and contains NO trans fats! It is great for deep-fat frying and baking, and is not prone to rancidity. Since it has been separated from some of the unsaturated portion of the oil, it is colorless and odorless, and will not affect the taste of foods like Virgin Palm Oil does."

This last week I have been trying Palm Shortening in the different baking I have done. It was great in biscuits, crackers and cookies. The results were very light and nice. I also tried Ginger Coconut Bars from the many recipes that tropical traditions has. We enjoyed them.

To buy Organic Palm Shortening:
The one gallon bucket (7 lbs) is on sale right now for $30.65 (normal price is $40.75). Go here to order and then if you are new to Tropical Traditions be sure to use the referred by a friend # 6527139 and you will recieve a free book on Virgin Coconut Oil with your order. (I will also recieve something).

To win Organic Palm Shortening: (Do any or all of the options below and get one chance per option.)

  1. Leave a comment (make sure to leave an e-mail or contact information other than just a blog link) telling me what type of oil/fat you normally use in baking.
  2. Sign up to recieve Tropical Traditions' e-mail newsletter. (leave another comment letting my know that you subscribe) 
  3. Visit Tropical Traditions' Recipe Blog and come back and leaving a comment letting my know what recipe you would like to try.
  4.  Follow my blog and leave a comment letting me know that you do.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The words of my mouth...

 "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear." Ephesians 4:29

"Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things."
Philippians 4:8

This is an area that I really want to grow in. I am praying that the words I say can be ones that build up, that they always please God and help others. This hasn't always been what has happened when I speak but I really want to change in this area. I am praying about it and am meditating on these verses. I thought I would share them with you too in hopes that they will encourage you also in your walk.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Spending Less on Clothes

 Do you ever feel like you are over abundantly blessed- to the point that you almost feel overwhelmed?
This has been us sometimes with clothes. I am incredibly grateful to God in how He abundantly provides and it is my goal to figure out ways to share the blessings we receive with others that need them too, hopefully without getting stressed and overwhelmed!

 The reason we so often have over and beyond what we need is because we have several friends that pass all their hand-me-downs on to us. I am all for used clothes, I would much prefer to keep clothes being used then have them sit uselessly in somebody's closet. And I am very thankful I don't need to go out and buy new clothes for our whole family- I can't imagine how much that would cost!

 As blessed as we are with hand-me-downs, clothing our family isn't quite as easy as just going through bags of clothing that people give to us. Not everything we get works nor do we get everything we need. So here is what does work for us in keeping our family clothed without spending a lot.

  •  Be very thankful for whatever is given to us, take what we can use (either as is or when re-made) and pass on the rest.
  • Re-make clothes.  There are so many ways this can be done from simple altering to totally cutting up one piece of clothing to make it into another item.
  • Patch and mend the clothes we have.
  • When we need something (especially things like shoes that don't so often work from hand-me-downs) I will keep my eye on clearance racks and sales.
  • Buy used at garage sales, thrift stores or ebay. (I just bought clothes from ebay once but that was a good savings.)
  • Sew, knit or crochet new clothes.
  • Have clothing and shoes that are for gardening and painting and things like that so that we don't get our better clothes wrecked.
  • Be creative in our clothing combinations. Every so often I try to go through my clothes and see if there are different things that I could wear together that I don't normally wear together. Sometimes I can come up with some "new" outfits that I really like with things that I already had. This helps to eliminate any desire that I might have had to go out and buy something new.
  • Keep clothes and pass them down from one child to the next. This is easier with the boys than the girls as they are much closer in age but it works at least somewhat with both of them. It is so much easier to just be able to pull out my box labeled for that age then to have to go shopping for what I need somewhere.
  • I watch for good sales and good coupons for stores where Ken likes to get his clothes.
  • We can also save money on clothes simply because I am a stay at home mom and I homeschool my children. Because of that we don't feel as much peer pressure to dress in any certain way. We dress in clothes that we like and that are clean and neat but they may not be the very latest style.
When we were examining our clothing budget we did realize that by far the majority of that money goes to clothe Ken. There are several reasons for that: 1. He doesn't get many hand me downs nor is all that open to used clothing. 2. His clothes cost more (Large men's clothes just do in my experience). 3. He needs to wear nice clothes to the office. Size 13 shoes cost quite a bit too. Ken seems to wear out shoes quickly (at least compared to me).

Since that is where the bulk of the money is going (and just for the record- that doesn't bother me at all, the rest of us are very well clothed and I am delighted that we can do that with very little money) I am trying to think of ways that I can keep Ken well clothed using a little less money. Here are some ideas I am hoping to try:
  • Ken usually does most of his own shopping. That is fine but I think I might try to be more aware of what he may be needing so that I can keep an eye out for deals and buy stuff for him before he buys it at a higher cost.
  • If I go to garage sales, etc, I will try to look for very nice (that look new still ) clothes for him. He would never buy used on his own and doesn't get all that excited about ones that I present but often they become favorites of his so I think it is worth it to get them for him if it is really his style.
  • When he buys his shoes (generally online) see if he can use an ebates store so that we can get a percentage back.
Those are some of my ideas. How do you keep you husband dressed economically?

Also just for fun I thought I would check out some ideas for making articles of clothing that I haven't made before. Have any of you made shoes? Here are some links with ideas on that. So if we really need to save money I guess we can try it! :-)
I am linking this to Frugal Friday at Life as Mom.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

We love to read

Our school year is about 2/3 over and boy have we read and learned some fun stuff! One of the real highlights of our school day is when I read aloud. Most of this is done right after lunch and before our nap (or just quiet reading on their beds) time. We also sometimes throw in a little reading right as we start our school day and then of course there is before bed reading which is Ken's time to read.

 We just finished a book that we enjoyed so much that I wanted to tell you all about it too in case you were looking for any good books to read. This book is one that we read during our school beginning time, it had nice short sections that fit in perfectly there.

  The book is: "The Signers" -The 56 stories behind the Declaration of Independence. by Dennis Brindell Fradin and Illustrated by Micheal McCurdy.  In the book it tells a little about each of the 13 colonies (and shows a map of how it was at the time) and then after it tells about the colony it has a couple of pages to tell about each signer that came from that colony. There are pictures to go along with each signer.

  This book made me cry several times, not so much because of how wonderfully it is written (though I think the author did a good job) but just realizing what all the founding fathers of our country went through to give us the country that we have. Some of them gave so much and we hadn't even heard their name before. I definitely came away from this book with an even deeper love for our country as well as a better understanding of all the choices that were made and the great thoughtfulness that went into declaring Independence.

Another book that I just read that deepened my feeling of patriotism was "Walk across America" by Peter Jenkins. I really enjoyed reading it (that one was just to myself) and enjoyed learning more about what the U.S. was like during the early 70's.

 Homeschooling has been going well. The beginning of this year felt a little rough. We were so extremely busy during the first couple of months that we struggled with getting into a routine. It has been a big blessing to have things be a bit less busy now. The kids are learning well. Some areas (for the boys especially) are still a challenge but we keep plugging away at them little by little and it is always exciting when we discover that something that had been hard earlier this year is now a piece of cake!

  What we have read together this year has been so much fun. I am constantly amazed at how when we are reading many books (at our reading times we read the Bible, a book about a country, Story of the World and a book for fun but is often educational as well) they will so often tie together so well without any planning by me. I think God must be arranging our learning schedule for us. I try to get educational videos to watch every so often and those have tied in amazingly well too. God is so good!

  This afternoon we are off to the library for the kids to go to a program on MN history and for me to go looking for more jewels of books. I am excited!

How is your school year going?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

And the winner is....

Knish of Hit Send. Let go.

I hope you enjoy your 100 postcards!

Making Memories

Yesterday afternoon when I was baking and cooking supper Megan had fixed a blanket tent in the living room and wanted someone to play with her. First she checked with the boys but they didn't want to play, they were headed outside to go squirrel hunting (with their slingshot and bow and arrows- they didn't get anything but they planned on eating it if they did) and then Mara was busy writing on her book.

I suggested that she get a few dolls to go camping with her. "But mom, I wanted someone that could talk". So I volunteered to be the voice for her doll. I could do that while I still got the work done I needed to in the kitchen (We have a pretty open floor plan for our main areas) and she would have someone that could talk. Megan was quite delighted with that idea. Out came Raggedy Ann and I got to be her voice.

If I ever got distracted and missed a time that I was supposed to talk Megan would remind me and supply me something to say. It was pretty cute. In the picture above Megan and Raggedy Ann where roasting "hot dogs" over the "campfire".

  Megan is good at entertaining herself, if she wouldn't have found anybody to play she would have still played happily but this alternative was a neat way for us to have fun together and I was still able to get my supper made and the baking done and Megan thought it was wonderful fun.

Creating memories like that works for me!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Postcard giveaway! (Thanks to UPrinting)

 I am happy, UPrinting has decided to do giveaways again- and I get to do one for them today. UPrinting offers online printing and I appreciate the quality and convenience that they offer. I actually used (gave away might be more correct...) a couple of their products today. I had a booth at a bridal show and I gave away brochures and business cards both of which we had done at UPrinting. They are both of high quality and the full color pictures on them look beautiful. I had been given the business cards but we chose to order the brochures from them as they were a couple of hundred dollars cheaper than the other place we checked.

I had mentioned a giveaway. Maybe you would like some information on that!

Someone can win 100 5”x7” Postcards!

 They are 14pt Cardstock Gloss on a 2 Business Days Turnaround; Front Only printing. Go to their website for your postcard printing.

I will also be receiving postcards for doing this review and I am excited about that. I want to use them for my business but I think they would be fun to use for a baby announcement, graduation announcement, a wedding thank you picture or you could even plan way ahead and get them ready for Christmas. There are a lot of possibilities!

To try to win please:
~ Leave a comment telling me what you think they would be fun to use for. Please be sure to leave contact information so I can get in touch with you when you win.
~If you would like another chance like Uprinting on Facebook and leave a comment letting me know that you did.

This giveaway will only go until Tuesday (2-22) evening so sign up fast!!

Restriction: Limited to US residents 18 years old and above only.

Two are better than one...

 I didn't do much blogging this last week. I had things that I wanted to write but just not the time to write them. We have been pretty busy. In a blessed and fun sort of way! My sister and family have been in town visiting (from a good many miles away!) and we have done stuff with them and then we have had other things going on too. But I will post today and who knows, I might post a little more often this week. :-) I do have a fun book I am reading right now though.... When I am into a book I can get distracted from blogging. A break is probably good though- I can get a little to talkative sometimes and you all probably don't mind a rest. :-)

   I have been reading from Ecclesiastes lately. That books has some really neat verses and other ones that make you wonder.... I like this one:

  "Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For it either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? (This is a real mystery to me!- I certainly am thankful for another warm body.) And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart." Ecc. 4:9-12

 Around valentines day I was really thinking about how neat it is that Ken and I have each other. We balance and compliment each other. We encourage each other and Ken does things for me that he does better while I do things for him that I am better at. It is so much easier and nicer than trying to do things all on my own. I had wanted to write a whole post on what I was thanking God for concerning Ken but that didn't get done last week nor do I have time to do it now but I am certainly thankful! That is one set of two that God has blessed me to be a part of.

I am also thankful for friends and family. So often when I am with them I realize again how two (or more) are so much better than just me! Today I was getting ready for a bridal show. Two sisters and  three other friends came over to help me. It was a lot of fun to work together and get so much more done together than we could have done on our own.

And the very most important "two" that I am a part of is Having a relationship with Jesus Christ and have the Holy Spirit dwell in me. I don't ever have to worry about being alone because I am not. I always have someone with me. And that is wonderful to me!

How about you- Do have special connections in your life?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Onesie Dress

 I have seen onesie dresses mentioned off and on online and I thought it look like fun to try. I had a onesie and a knit shirt that had nice fabric that I decided to upcycle so I was ready to give it a try.

To make it I simply cut out a strip of cloth (actually it was two strips- I had side seams) for the skirt. I sewed it into a loop and then I hemmed one side and gathered the other. Then I flipped the skirt inside out and upside down over top of the onesie and pin the gathered edge on at the waist area. Then I sewed it I think using a zig zag stitch so that it would stretch better. You could stop at this point but I decided to put something around the neck too.

I cut a narrow strip of the floral cloth and then I finished one edge by sewing over it with zig zag that was set on a really short stitch. (Similar to what you would use for applique.) I let the knit fabric stretch a little as I sewed so that it would make it a bit ruffly. Then I gathered it up along the neckline and sewed it on again with zig zag. (I also finished the edges at the end of the strip.) Then I sewed a narrow ribbon over the area where I sewed the ruffle on.

That's it! It was easy and fun. I love upcycling like that. :-)
Have you ever made a onesie dress?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Speaks to me Sunday

"We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives
 for the brethren. But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes
 his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love
 with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth" 1 John 3:16-18

We have a God who didn't just say He loves us- He showed us. The Father was willing to send Jesus down here to teach us and then die for our sins. Jesus was willing to go through horrible suffering for us- because He loves us!

 What should our response to that be?

Our love shouldn't simply be something that is said either. We need to act on it. Jesus loved everybody. We need to follow in his steps on that as well. Whoever needs our help- we should show our love and help them. I hope I can learn to be more like Jesus in this area!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Singing for her Supper

  The last couple of days Megan has been rather obsessed with money. When we went shopping earlier this week she saw something (A stuffed pig with a pink bow!) that she decided she needs. She didn't ask me for it but since then she has been trying to earn money so she can get it. And mind you she didn't see it on a shelf it was in one of the game machines where you have to try to pick it up with a little grabber thing.


Today I gave her a job helping with laundry that earned her 10 cents (I gave it to her with nickels which made her happy because in her mind the more coins the better). Then she was upstairs trying to come up with other ways to earn money. Pretty soon she comes downstairs again. "Jonathan told me a way to make money!"  Me: "Oh, how is that?" Megan: "He told me I could sing on the streets."

The background to that I found out was that Megan was playing with this little toy cup and wondering how to make money and I guess something clicked in Jonathan's brain (very helpful brother that he is) and he thought she looked like a beggar or something so he gave her that idea.

When she told me I just kind of chuckled and told her to go ahead and sing or something to that affect. I thought she would sing around the house.

But no... Megan headed up and got her boots on and wanted her coat at which point I had to explain that I didn't want her to go stand out on our road and sing in hopes of making money. She was a bit disappointed so I suggested going and singing to her siblings.

Mara and Jonathan each gave her a penny which made her happy. Two more coins!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Valentine Suncatchers

 On Wednesday night during our kids class we made heart shaped sun catchers. I believe I did this before when I was a kid but it had been a long time. We were making them to take and share when we go to a home for the elderly. We put a verse about Love on it.

  These are made using bits and pieces of old crayons (it was nice to get some of the short crayons out of our container!) that have been made into slivers by using a pencil sharpener or putting them in a Ziploc bag and going over it with a rolling pin. Then you put it between wax paper, iron it together and then cut it in the shape you desire.  A friend found more detailed directions here. (I found all the over the top warnings with the directions pretty amusing!)

  With our little leftover scraps I thought it would be fun to make a garland for our window. I simply put a hole in the top of each heart and then tied them onto a ribbon with spaces in between each one. I am enjoying that extra color on the window. The sun catchers do look a lot neater than the pictures show. I couldn't capture the neat look they have as the sun comes through them.

Have you been doing any Valentines projects or decorating? We haven't done much but I guess this is a start. :-)
I am sharing this post at:

Frugal Friday at Life as Mom and Saturday Nite Special at Funky Junk Interiors

Spending Less on Paper Products

  In our disposable society there are a lot of ways we can spend money. Paper towel, toilet paper, facial tissue, paper plates, lunch bags, napkins, sandwich bags, cleansing wipes and more can all be part of the list. So how do we spend less in this area?

  I will be honest for the most part concerning paper products- it isn't the price that bothers me the most, it is the fact that when I use them I am creating a lot of needless trash. So even though I love the fact that I can save money by using less of them I am even happier that I will be not be contributing as much to the landfill.

 Some of these items seem indispensable in our society. What can we do instead? I thought I would share what we do currently do and then how I want to improve even more.

  • Napkins- Instead of paper we use cloth most of the time. I have been able to make our napkins very easily from recycled clothing and other fabric I had on hand. They are not hard to add to a load of laundry. We do have room for improvement in this however. Only some of the napkins that we have (the large ones that I made out of old t-shirts) does Ken like, if there are none of those clean then he will use a paper napkin instead. Also sometimes all of the napkins are in the laundry so the paper ones come out. I need to make more napkins that Ken likes.
  • Paper Towel- We use cloth rags (made from old clothes or cloth diapers) instead. It works great. I do use paper towels if I need to drain oily foods (Bacon, deep fried foods) and we do sometimes use them on trips. I could use cloth napkins on trips instead but I don't know what else I would use for oily foods. Any suggestions?
  • Paper Plates- We have pretty much completely stopped using them. When camping or picnicking we simply bring plastic plates along. When we have parties we use regular stuff and throw it in the dishwasher. It might be a bit more work but I think it is worth it. Same with plastic silverware and plastic or Styrofoam cups.
  • Facial Tissue (Kleenex)- We do still use these some at our house and so what I do buy I try to find on sale or use coupons or both. We are using far less however and we have upped the using of handkerchiefs. I try to always have a handkerchief with me (and I am quick to throw it in the laundry when it needs it- I don't have this rule that it lasts a day or anything gross like that.) and I also have a basket of handkerchiefs sitting at a prominent place in our house so they are handy whenever someone needs them. They take up very little space in our laundry and are easy to fold so I don't think any expense is added there. For a family that seems to often need to blow our nose (Allergies are a part of life...) saving money on tissues is a good thing. I need to get busy and make some more handkerchiefs soon as sometimes they are all in the laundry at once.
  • Lunch Bags- We don't use the little brown paper sacks. I reuse other bags instead and when I finally run out of those (as I don't get them so much anymore as I do usually remember to bring cloth bags to the grocery store) then I will make a lunch sack for Ken. With the kids being homeschooled we don't have the need to use many lunch bags anyway.
  • Toilet Paper-  We do still use it. :-) I was curious if you expected me to say that we don't as that is the case with most paper products. I do try to always get it on sale and use coupons if I have them and they really actually save money. Some people do use cloth toilet wipes and it isn't as gross and weird as you might think. (There is a detailed post on it here at Penniless Parenting.) I don't think I am ready for this step (and I may never be) and I know some in my family aren't but who knows- maybe sometime in the future. I like to at least know what options there are in case I can't get toilet paper someday.
  • Sandwich Bags/ Ziploc Bags- I do buy these occasionally- very, very occasionally. For sandwiches I don't pack them in bags I but them in washable containers. I do use bags for bread, freezing and some other things however. I try not to use them a lot however and what I do use (unless it is meat or some other really sticky/ messy substance) I wash and use again (and again and again...). I wash Ziploc bags as well as bread bags and other food bags (like rice, frozen corn, etc.).
  • Wet Wipes- There are various sorts of these- baby wipes and then the sanitizing wipes that I have seen advertised lately. I don't need baby wipes anymore and I did use them some (when away from home) when I did need to change a diaper but at home I usually used wash clothes (for that purpose only)  that I would get wet and then clean the baby up. I personally much preferred the cloth wipes and thought that they were nicer on the baby's bottom as well. As far as the wipes that are being advertised to wipe counters and such- I don't buy them. I think this nation is a little over obsessed with "sanitizing" and I prefer just to clean with soap and water.
Those are some of the ways that we have saved money on "paper" products. I probably seem extreme to many of you but I know some of you are probably even more "pro" at saving in this area. I still want to improve- not just so we can save money but because I like the idea of using re-usable stuff as much as possible so that we don't contribute so much trash to the landfill. I would love to hear any of your tips and ideas!

I am linking this to Frugal Friday at Life as Mom.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A sweet baby hoodie for a sweet little baby

 I have really been loving the new babies around here and I have found that I am quite addicted to making little sweaters. They are fun and pretty fast and they look so cute! This one I made for Baby Sunita Grace who we had a shower for on Saturday. 
Here is the link to the basic pattern. I didn't follow it all the way (I know I always say that- I guess I have trouble following directions!) but used yarn that I had on hand and I made the front striped and then I mixed up other color placements too. I also decided to add little pockets to the front and a little tassel to the hood.

I was having fun using up this rose colored yarn. The tassel was added partly because I had about 1 foot of it left and it seemed a shame to let it go to waste. :-) I bought the Rose yarn way back when I was in college and I made a sweater for my mom with it at that time (though I didn't follow gage right and it was way to wide- last year I finally fixed it for her!).

Next project with the Rose colored yarn was a baby sweater for Mara when she was little. She didn't wear it much however as I put some wool yarn next to her neck and I decided it might be to itchy. I finally got it fixed up when Megan was little and she wore it quite a bit. (This post has a picture of Megan in that sweater.)

Then last year I made a sweater for Megan out of it. You can see the post about it here.

Last month I made another sweater set for another baby and I trimmed it with the rose colored yarn.

This was the last one to be made from that yarn and it was rather fun to reminisce about what all I had used it for. And now I am curious? Do keep yarn on hand at your home? Have you had some stashed for quite while? What has been a favorite project you have made with yarn?

Monday, February 7, 2011

We have a winner!

The winner of the Tropical Traditions Coconut Peanut Butter is Tracy who blogs at Girls to Grow. Congratulations Tracy! I hope you enjoy it.
I sent you an e-mail but if you don't recieve it will you please e-mail me with your contact information?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Being a doer!

 "This you know, my beloved brethren.But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls, But prove yourselves doers of the word,  and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.

 If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man 's religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this; to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world." James 1:19-27
 I am so enjoying reading through the book of James right now. This section of verses is so inspiring and encouraging. I love the balance that it has in it. It reminds me that I want to dig down deep in God's word and learn everything that I can but then I want to do what it says! And part of what it says is to help those that need help (and this is truly on my heart!) and then to strive for purity- to not be stained by the sin that is in this world.

These verses challenged me. I hope you are encouraged and challenged by them as well!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Warm Winter Days

 We have had a lot of below zero temperatures around here lately and so it was quite a treat when it got up to around 30 degrees yesterday. The boys spent hours outside playing and shoveling off our deck. They decided that coats weren't even needed for the warm weather we were having!

 The decided to turn our deck stairs into a sledding/ skiing hill. We don't have much in the way of hills so this has been fun for them. They also decided to try to make a half pipe for skiing on. They didn't quite get it done so they decided they had a quarter pipe.

 Mara had started to make a family of snowmen a couple of months ago. She didn't get heads on them though and then the next day we didn't have sticky snow anymore as it had gotten too cold. Yesterday we finally had sticky snow again so Mara and I quickly put heads on the snowman family. I think they appreciated it!
 How is your winter going? It seems like much of the nation is getting cold and snow. I hope you are having fun with it too!

Friday, February 4, 2011

From Messy to Neat in the Laundry Room

 Our laundry room is in our downstairs, In the same room with the furnace, water heater and softener and other things like that. We also have an air hockey table in there, a fridge for my flower business, it is a storage area for my flower business and for craft stuff and ski stuff and all the other stuff that we don't know what else to do with. It is unfinished and it was extremely cluttered and messy! (Check out the horrible before pictures!)

 The unfinished part doesn't really bother me thought it isn't all that attractive like that but someday we hope to add on and things would be torn up in there and so it seems a bit silly to waste money on finishing it right now. That may not have bothered me but the messy clutter was really getting to me! Something needed to be done!

  I talked to Ken about it and loving husband that he is he agreed to help me make shelves. So last Saturday we went in and measured and figured and then he and his helper Aaron headed off to Home Depot to get supplies while I went to work at clearing the room out.

It looks so much better now and I am so excited to have some organization again! It still isn't perfect but I am loving what I do have!

 We even put a shelf above the door (which leads to my office) to hold floral supplies. I can see the top of my dryer again! I cleaned up the appliances and I am enjoying just looking at them. :-)

 The recycling got tucked neatly back in this corner now that there is some space for it since other things are up on shelves.
Stuff neatly on shelves is so much easier to access than in piles!

That is some of the fixing up that we have been doing at our house this week!

Spending less on Personal Care products

This week I thought I would get back to the discussion on ways we do spend less or are thinking about spending less in different budget categories.

Today I will cover Personal Care Products. Things like Shampoo, Soap, Deodorant, etc.  One of the big ways I save money in this area is by simple not using some things. An example of things that I do not use or buy are: Make-up (I prefer going natural and that helps me to save both time and money), Hair spray, mousse or styling gel (I do have a tube of gel that I bought around 5 years ago- it is pretty much full), Hair coloring or perms (again I prefer being natural) and more. I guess I am very basic when it comes to personal care.

  Here is what we do use and how we do or we want to save money on that item:
  • Shampoo- Traditionally I would have bought on sale and got cheap brands. I do still look for sales and use coupons to get Ken's shampoo. For the rest of us however we are now normally using my own homemade shampoo. To make it I heat up about 10 cups of water, I shred one bar of soap into it and let it dissolve. Then I remove from heat and put in around 3/4 cup of baking soda. I stir that well and then I pour it into bottles that I have saved and cleaned from other things (like ketchup, shampoo, honey, etc.). Let it sit overnight and it will thicken. I have started experimenting with using herbs in this but need to test it more. Use it like regular shampoo.
  • Conditioner- I am using Apple Cider Vinegar as a rinse a few times a week and it is working well. I don't seem to need conditioner anymore with the use of the homemade shampoo and vinegar. I have been doing this for around a year. Currently I have just been buying Vinegar by the gallon but it is my dream to make it someday (soon I hope!) instead of buying it. Here is a site I found that has what seems to be fairly easy instructions.
  • Soap- I have stopped using soft soap in my attempt to have as little exposure to Sodium Laurel Sulfate as possible. So I just buy bar soap which can be found very cheaply. However I would love to learn how to make my own soap (Maybe Goat's milk soap since we get goat's milk from my parents).
  • Toothpaste- In my attempt to not use SLS I stopped using regular toothpaste and have been using baking soda instead. This is obviously way cheaper! The rest of the family is still using purchased toothpaste and I often buy more natural stuff for the kids. Currently I don't have any great money saving tips on that. I also haven't come up with any great ways to save on floss.
  • Deodorant. This doesn't seem to be a huge expense as it seems to last forever however I do have all the stuff and have been wanting to try making my own. A fellow blogger e-mailed me a recipe. This recipe seems quite similar.
  • Shaving- Ken uses an electric razor which doesn't require shaving cream and lasts a long time. I use disposable razors with bar soap. I rinse them carefully and I don't consider them disposable- one will last me a long time! The cost here for us is quite small.
  • Chapstick/ Lip balm- We don't use this much and so far have just bought stuff on sale for what we do need. I do think it might be interesting to try making it.
  • Lotion- Again we use this very rarely and I have usually been given it as gifts so it is not really a cost issue.
  • Menstruation- I use a Diva Cup (which I purchased here) which has worked quite well and saved me a bunch. I also really like that it eliminates a lot of trash. I do also use light pads some of the time which I generally buy with a coupon and get almost free. I do think I might look into making cloth pads instead at some point.
I think that pretty much covers what we need. It's pretty basic but I like to be that we in this area. Do you have any tips for saving money in this area?

I am linking this to Life As Mom.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Warm hands on cold days.

   When you live in the cold (currently -9 degrees and dropping) northland like we do having good mittens or gloves is pretty essential.

  I have been wanting to have a mitten making spree here at our house using some of the old wool clothes that were given to me. Last night I went searching for the kind of pattern that I wanted- I wanted one with a set in thumb. I finally found one here with a pattern, instructions and a video. I tried the pattern out today and made a pair for Mara. I think I want to do some adjusting of the pattern as they turned out a bit smaller that I had anticipated (they barely fit Mara and don't fit me- they are better sized for the boys) and there are some other improvements that I would like to make but overall I like the pattern.

  Mittens are very satisfactory to make as they are so quick and pretty easy. I am hoping to whip out some more pairs tomorrow!
What have you been making lately?


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