Wednesday, February 29, 2012

In memory of my Grandma Cleone

Grandma and her grandchildren quite some years ago. I am the one leaning on the chair in the back.
 This morning I am in Iowa attending the funeral of my Grandma Cleone who is my Dad's Mom. (Pre-posting can come in handy!)

  My Grandma was in the nursing home for a couple of years now and was very much ready to go home to heaven. She had a very close relationship with our God and I am looking forward to seeing her again someday. Grandma was truly ready to go and so I was very happy for her that she was able to make that journey but I wasn't quite ready for how much it would hit home to me that I would really really miss her. Over the last couple of years it has been kind of like we have slowly saying goodbye as it become harder to have good conversations and phone conversations were quite challenging and so I thought this parting might not be that hard but it still was. She has been a very important part of my life and she will be very missed!

  I had fun looking through my photo albums and finding a few pictures to share on here. I don't have much time to write memories now but I might later as my Grandma was a pretty fun and inspiring lady!
 The picture above is one of Grandma, Dad, Mara and I. We were blessed to live near Grandma when we were first married and Mara was born. She did things like freeze a bunch of meals for me to use and just encouraged and helped out however she could.
 Here is Grandma and her oldest Great-grandchildren outside of Pizza Ranch a place she liked to take us. My Grandma was great with Kids and I can still hear the sound of her reading stories aloud in my head. She had a very good story reading voice!
 Ken, Mara, Jonathan and I with Grandma on her 80th birthday.
  This is my Grandma,  a long time before I was born! She was a school teacher for many years and really enjoyed doing that. She was a great encouragement to my parents when they decided to homeschool and then again to we grandchildren when we decided to homeschool.
 Grandma in her room at the nursing home.
Grandma and some of her great-grandchildren.

  I feel very blessed to have a Grandma like my Grandma! I will look forward to seeing her again someday!

Here are some other posts about my Grandma:
A visit at her home and memories of time with Grandma
Visiting Grandma in the nursing home
Learning about Iowa and one of my favorite things there- Grandma.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

In God I have put my trust

 One day last week I was feeling extremely tired and my head was beginning to ache when I was doing my morning devotions. The day wasn't looking overly promising with that sort of beginning but I think God had planned just what chapter in the Bible I would be reading that day.

  The Bible is applicable to everyone in every circumstance and it certainly can encourage when you are feeling down!

I read Psalms chapter 55 and verse 22 jumped out at me:

 "Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you: He will never allow the righteous to be shaken."

  No matter what is going on in your life (and it may be a whole lot worse than feeling tired and getting a headache) God is willing to take your burden and care for you. Trust Him in that.

I happened to glance over the next couple of chapters and I noticed the verses they had underlined- they were also very encouraging ones so I will also share them with you.

 "When I am afraid,  I will trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me? Psalms 56:3 & 4

"I will cry to God Most High, To God who accomplishes all things for me." Psalms 57:2

God is always there- through good times and bad, in joy and in sorrow- He is there! Seek Him.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

I don't buy...... Hot Cocoa Mix

For a long time now we haven't bought hot cocoa mix. It is very easy to make, cheaper and better for you. It actually has real dairy in it rather than who knows what! I am not sure what is in the store bought hot cocoa mix but it often gives me a headache when I drink it so I am glad we make our own instead.
Hot Chocolate Mix:
6 1/2 cups dry milk
3/4 cups instant dry creamer
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup cocoa

(sometimes I will use around 2 cups of chocolate drink mix instead of the sugar and cocoa)
Mix everything together and store in a dry, sealed container. To use it put around 1/3 cup of the mix in a cup and then fill with hot (though not boiling) water and stir well.

 You can also put crushed up candy canes or peppermint hard candies in it if you like (and happen to have the leftover from Christmas!).

 Lately most of the hot chocolate that I have made I have sweetened with honey instead (as that is our main sweetener now)- It does have a little different flavor but it is still good. It does however prevent the making up of an easy mix as it is liquid instead of dry.

Do any of you make your own hot chocolate mix?

I would love to hear your suggestions.

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

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Denim Days {Progress on a rug and using denim at the Bridal Show}

 I had hoped to share a finished rug with you today. That didn't happen as it is taking a little longer to make than I thought. I am having fun making it however other than having to change the many needles that I have broken. I think it is going to turn out cute however and am looking forward to getting it all done. Hopefully I will share instructions on how to make it soon. (Just know it might take more than an afternoon to do it.)
This weekend I had a booth at a bridal show and decided to pull my denim days along with me there. I had decided it would be fun to use bright colors and that kind of led to a outdoors/picnic theme and denim seemed to fit in just fine.

  Mom suggested that I use the denim vase that I had made which I thought might be fun but I also thought it might look better paired with a couple of other ones in varying sizes. So Saturday evening found me making two more denim vases.

 The denim vases made a very simple table centerpiece with just a bright flower or two in each of them.
Red Ranunculus in little vase

 Another denim touch was with this bouquet.  I used denim to wrap around the stems and then I also made little denim balls (see below) to stick in the bouquet.
I also used a denim accent on a matching boutonniere (which I didn't take a picture of) and then I also took along my two little denim baskets to hold things in. It was unique but I had fun using some of the things that I had been making lately.

I would love to hear any things that you have made out of denim. Would you ever be willing to use denim in your wedding?

Update on my "No shopping Challange"

  We are still plugging away at trying to use what we have and make yummy meals by working creatively with the foods that we do have.  Last week I did mention that I would be visiting the grocery store that evening to go to a meeting which would include eating supper from the deli and then I also had a few things I would buy. They had large pieces of pizza in the deli for $1 each so I got two and then drank water for a meal of just $2. I was happy about that!

Ken's gift which he very much enjoyed.
I did also buy some groceries- mostly special things for Valentine's day and fruit because we were hungry for it. What I bought was: A bunch of bananas, 5 lbs of grapefruit (Aaron had regularly been reminding me that I had said that we would get grapefruit this winter), a tomato and lettuce (Ken had been bemoaning that all we had lately was cabbage salad and he missed his lettuce so I thought that would be a treat for our valentine's day supper), 5 lbs of onions (I was missing these and knew that I was going to need them for a church event where I had been assigned to make potato salad- Mara thought it was rather unnecessary for me to buy these.), strawberries (to make Ken's valentine present- I had been planning to do this for months) cottage cheese (to make lasagna for Valentines day) and cream cheese (It was on sale and I used one along with some frozen goat cheese to make cheesecake and froze the other one for another treat later.). The total cost was $18.90. Also during the last week Ken did stop to buy 4 gallons of milk ($13). So far we have bought 8 gallons total this month. We have definitely reduced our consumption.

  Even thought we have bought some things obviously the majority of our food has come from what we already had one hand. We are still eating pretty good too!

 The other morning we were eating oatmeal with blueberries and Mara said "Take a picture!, it is so pretty!" So I did.  A good wholesome breakfast like this is indeed pretty.
 Though the boy eating it is even more fun to look at in my opinion!

  We have had some adjusting to do in our cooking habits as I ran out of oil a while back. I do have butter (which I did stock up on this month) but I have been trying to use it pretty frugally- mainly just on bread and potatoes and then small amounts in things like cookies. I do also still have some coconut oil but have been using that very minimally as well.

  In some things I make I have just been leaving the oil out (and generally it works fine) or substituting something like applesauce or shredded zucchini instead and then I did also render down some beef tallow (I hope to go into more detail on this next week). Beef tallow which is from our grass fed, hormone free natural beef is actually quite good for you- also we get it free along with our beef so learning to use it is a good idea. I do think it stinks but I can deal with a little stink while I am working with it as long as things still taste good.

  So far my baking with it has been very successful. Last night I made biscuits using tallow which although they look kind of hard were actually pretty fluffy inside and everybody here thought they were yummy.
  The bread I made with tallow turned out very nicely!
I also used tallow to make tortillas which worked well. That was my first try and I was pretty sceptical because not only was I using tallow instead of oil but also since I had run out of white flour they were going to have to be completely whole wheat (which tortillas have been one of our hold-outs with using 100% WW). They worked out fine. Even Ken, when I mentioned that I had been concerned, verified that they were just fine. Success!

 We are also starting to run out of a few other things- The other day I set the last jar of purchased salsa which was 3/4 of the way full (Ken's preference) on the counter and then knocked it off with my elbow when I turned around. It broke and all was wasted. I was thinking "Why did it have to be that!" but decided it was certainly no use crying over spilt Salsa. I'll either barter for more, make meals that don't need it or break down and buy it after all. I also discovered that I ran out of oatmeal. That came as a bit of a shock as I had thought I still had buckets full of it. Oh well! Jonathan was sad about this one too but I reminded him that he loves rice as a hot cereal too as well as cream of wheat (which we make from our ground wheat) and cornmeal mush. I don't think we will be able to make granola or granola bars but we will survive and maybe I will get really creative!

  During this last week I did also order my garden seeds (a very necessary purchase even though I did save quite a few seeds last year) and my business bought flowers for the bridal show that I had a booth at. This was also a necessary purchase but we have been enjoying them since the show.

  I have had no desire to do other shopping. My mom mentioned that some sweaters that I liked were on sale for $3 at JC Penney's and maybe for a second I was tempted to go shopping but not for long. Mostly during this time of little shopping I have spent much more time thinking about How MUCH we have rather than any thoughts of not having what I want or wanting more. We are exceedingly blessed!

  I hope that if you are trying to live frugally or get by on what you have that you will find our challenge encouraging.  It is possible and can be very fun to try to live on less!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Natural ways to deal with tooth aches

Megan and her "Toothy" puppets.
 Last week the kids and I all had appointments at the dentist. We haven't been real regular visitors there as we don't have dental insurance (though we do have a health savings account which we use to pay for dental care) and visits for a family of 6 can add up very quickly. We do try to brush our teeth regularly (though I am thinking now that I should try to up that amount and maybe monitor the kids a bit more) and eat a healthy diet with very low sugar consumption but we did still find some cavities when we went to the dentist. Jonathan and I both had a cavity in our molars that they were able to fix while we were there and then Jonathan and Aaron also had one in their baby teeth.

  We didn't have the baby teeth filled that day because the dentist ran out of time and also Jonathan's was in one that should be coming out very soon anyway. However since we got home Jonathan's yucky tooth has been bothering him quite a bit (I wonder if the dentist's poking irritated it) and so we have been trying to keep him comfortable until he can get it wiggled out or if necessary get it filled.

  Our first thought with tooth pain was "Clove Tea". When Mara has had tooth pain before she has found that very helpful and it also tastes good and we had everything on hand. Jonathan liked it too and thought it worked well but mainly just while he was drinking it. So he was drinking it by the potful! I think perhaps he was appreciating the warmth of it as much as the cloves part of it.  He was still complaining though whenever he would run out of tea (though the last two days it hasn't bothered him very much which is nice) so I decided maybe I better look for other ideas too. Here is what I found:

  • Echinacea is good for your teeth. Echinacea acts as a natural antibiotic and antibacterial. It can prevent tooth decay by reducing the amount of bacterial in the mouth. Echinacea also can help stop toothaches. It has natural pain killing and anti inflammatory properties. I wish I would have harvesting more Echinacea this past fall- next year I will try to do so as we like to drink the tea as well.
  • Tea tree oil is another helper of teeth.  It is a natural antibiotic and antibacterial. It also helps to fight fungus. By putting tea tree oil on your toothbrush and giving your mouth a good scrub, your be killing off harmful bacteria that can cause tooth decay. Tea tree oil can also act as a very effective pain killer bringing relief from toothaches.
  • Some other ideas that I found for using cloves was to chew on cloves, put clove oil on the tooth or make a compress using peanut butter and cloves to stick on the tooth. Clove oil is an antiseptic, antibacterial and an analgesic and is wonderful for the prevention of disease and infection.  WARNING-   It should not be used undiluted on the skin.
  • Turmeric is something else that is said to help. You can make a paste and stick it on the tooth. I have read that this is another anti-inflammatory spice (that can help with arthritis) so that is probably the benefit that you would receive from using it.
  • Cinnamon is another paste idea that I saw mentioned.
  • Take a clove of garlic, dip it in water and roll it in salt and then press it on the tooth. Jonathan was not very excited when I suggested this idea but I can imagine it would be good for you!
  • Rinse your mouth out with a glass which has been filled halfway with hot water and the rest of the way with Apple Cider Vinegar. Swish it around good and then spit it out.  This is said to relieve pain.
  • Peppermint essential oil and Chamomile essential oil are both said to be good for helping with tooth aches.
 The remedies above we have not tried as of yet and I cannot be sure of the sources (which I did list below) but I included these because they all seem to be pretty safe ideas using fairly normal things. I would love to hear if any of these are some you have tried and find useful. Also if you have any other natural remedies I would love to hear them!

Sources of information: My own use on some things, Ayurvedic Cure, ehow, hubpages,
I am linking this post to the Homestead Barn Hop at Homestead Revival.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Seeking to Glorify God with what we put in our minds

Some flowers from my booth at a wedding expo this afternoon

   A daughter that reads like crazy (and we have a very hard time keeping her supplied with good books), a discussion in our Wednesday night class at church and just my daily Bible reading has made me think lately on the importance of being careful what we put into our minds. There are lots of ways that we can fill our minds- reading books, magazines, etc, watching TV or movies, spending time online, the people we choose to hang out with and entertainment (like plays or concerts) that we go to see.

  Here are some verse that I have been thinking about lately that speak on this subject:

Romans 1:28-32 (I actually recommend the whole chapter but am trying to stay somewhat brief here)
"And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them."

 My take on these verses (and you don't have to agree with me- it is simply what I get out of it) is that it is not only wrong to do what is listed in those verses (and if you will look them over you will notice that several of them are not among the things we often consider to be the "really bad" things) but to give approval to others that do them is also wrong. My question is this- Is it right (do I please God) for me to watch a movie or read a book that puts any of the items listed above in a good light? It is my goal to avoid them as much as I possibly can because I have no desire to be entertained by things that hurt God. Avoiding them can be very challenging as even little kids books can often contain some of those things. I do think it is worth it however!

Here are some other verse that prompt my thinking in this area:

"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." Philippians 4:8

Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word. Psalms 119:37

  If we are to live as Christians I believe that every part of our life should be done to honor our God and Savior. This is not something that I do perfectly at all but it is something that I want to grow in!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A Magnetic pocket

Another of my quick denim projects from last Saturday. A Magnetic Pocket for holding paper and pen.  This was a very easy project and one that I thought might be a little silly but I actually rather like it now.

My supplies were:
  • One pocket cut from a pair of jeans.
  • Some upcycled wool fabric cut into flower shapes.
  • Magnets rescued from the back of some broken clip magnets.
  • A button cut out of some jeans to use in the middle of the flower.
  • Hot glue.
I just glued everything together and it was done. You could fix these up however you like and you might find them to be quite useful.

Have fun!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A denim vase

 Last Saturday I had a ton of fun just spending time in my office/craft room making things. I took pictures and figured I would share all sorts of projects this week. But life can get busier than we expect and that simply didn't happen but I had a moment tonight so I figured I would share at least one of the weird and fun projects that I did.

A denim covered vase.....

 We don't drink any alcohol (a personal choice from our understanding of the Bible and seeing the misery it brings to so many lives) but a couple of years ago our Republican group was cooking a big meal at our house and the chicken recipe used wine and so I decided to save the bottles as I had seen them used for crafts. Well they sat around for a long time and I figured I should finally make something with them. So I used one of them to make this vase.

 I simply took the denim seams which I had saved from the jeans that I have been cutting up and I hot glued them up and around the bottle.
 I overlapped a little bit as I went.
I made a little "flower" out of some of the seams and glued it in place.

It was a fast and fun project and I rather like it. It is different but sometimes (maybe a lot of times) I rather like different. Ken likes it too so that is nice!

 Have you been making anything lately? I love to hear what is going on at your places too!

I am linking this to Frugal Friday at Life as MOM

I don't buy ....... Deodorant

10 months ago I made my first batch of homemade deodorant (with thanks to Maria from My full time life who sent me a recipe) I have been using it ever since (I did have to make more this month) and am quite happy with it. I love the fact that it is another thing that I can cross off of my shopping list!
I am reprinting my post from last year so you can see how to make it as well. It is very easy!

To make the deodorant you need:
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch (I believe this helps to absorb moisture)
  • 1/4 cup baking soda (and this absorbs smell)
  • 2 Tablespoons Coconut Oil (this binds everything together and it good for your skin as well)
  • Essential oil or your choice (Optional- I used peppermint oil today and Maria said she used tea tree oil but I want to make a batch of unscented deodorant for working with the bees.)
  • A cleaned out deodorant case to refill and use. Screw it down all the way so you can put the deodorant in.
Mix the cornstarch and baking soda together. Add the essential oil (up to 20 drops, to make it as strong as you desire). I softened the coconut oil a little by putting the measuring cup with it in it over a bowl of warm water and then I mixed everything together. I started mixing with a spoon but ended up finding it worked out better to do it with my hands. Then I started filling the old deodorant stick up. The mixture fit almost perfectly in the one container. I had just a little extra to put in another one.
It smelled really nice and looks pretty nearly just like the stuff you buy at the store. I think it will work well. I did try it out (oh the things we will talk about on our blogs!!!) and it felt just like any other deodorant.


 I did find that peppermint oil can give that icy hot feeling when you put it in your deodorant. It was a little interesting (grin!) but I got used to it. I went ahead and used it all summer even while keeping bees but they didn't seem to notice. This last time when I made it however I just left the peppermint oil out. Last weekend at the beekeeping class that I went to I heard that some people include beeswax in their homemade deodorant. That is something I want to try next. I think that might help the one issue that I have had with the deodorant and that is that it gets soft when the weather is hot (like when I was at camp in Iowa).

  Have you ever tried making your own deodorant? I would love to hear your thoughts.

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

Monday, February 13, 2012

Contented with what we have {It is so much more fun to make something than it is to buy something}

  We have had a really fun weekend. Yesterday we had a good morning at church followed by Ken and I going downhill skiing (beautiful weather- lots of fun fresh air and exercise!) and the children spending time with Grandpa and Grandma and finished off with a fun supper and visiting at my parents.

  Saturday we enjoyed just staying home, relaxing and creating.
 Jonathan went out into our woods with the axe and came back with some lumber that he had plans of turning into something. He made a little wooden knife and then was working on a new spoon and had plans also for another sword I believe. I love seeing his progress in the area of carving.
 Mara spent some time on the computer using a table that Ken helped her to set up and creating teeny tiny books for the Barbie house bookshelves. She had helped Megan clean the barbie house all up and thought that they needed more books for their shelves. She used teeny tiny font to put some of her stories in books that are readable (as long as you have good eyes).

  Meanwhile my office was in need of a cleaning. I made progress on the cleaning by working on some projects using the things that were laying around. I made several denim projects which I will try to share this week. They were unique and creative projects and I had lots of fun with them!

 I also did another project which I had been thinking about doing for a while. Mara has been growing out of her shoes lately and actually shares a shoe size with me now. We have shopped for shoes in the past for her but struggle with finding shoes that she likes (nothing too weird!) that are also affordable. When she mentioned that she would like new dress shoes- I kind of despaired of shopping for her and also right now we are trying not to shop.

Since we now share a shoe size I could share shoes with her except that she doesn't like mine. I had a pair of flats (that I had bought at Walmart a year or so ago for $1) which she didn't like but then I came up with the idea of changing them. Mara thought it sounded like a good idea.
 So armed with old black lining fabric (saved from an old wool skirt), modge podge, black ribbon and hot glue I got busy.

I pulled the bows of the toes of the shoes and then cut a piece of fabric that can fit over top and the sides of the shoes (with excess). Next step was to brush modge podge all over the shoes and then fit the fabric on cutting off the excess. I did hot glue the fabric seam at the back of the shoe. after I had the fabric all in place then I modge podged all over the outside of the shoe to seal it all in place.
 The next step was to put ribbon all around the top edge of the shoe (folded in half over the edge) and glue in place with hot glue (carefully smoothing things so that there weren't any bumps).

 Mara thought it would be fun to have some straps and she decided on this look. We used ribbons for the straps. They looked cute for a while but didn't actually hold up while wearing them all day today. (the ribbon wasn't very sturdy.) I will try to figure something else out for them.
I am also thinking about flowers that can be put on or taken off of the toe area but I haven't gotten them made yet. I think it would be fun for her to have a little variety in her shoes that way.

 I really enjoyed fixing up some old shoes into shoes that Mara liked and was happy to wear. What a fun way to recycle AND save money (and not go shopping)!

  Speaking about not going shopping- I have some confessions to make along that line. :-) Since I last reported we have done pretty well to use what we have on hand (even while having various company) but there were a few times of buying things. Here is my confession list: :-)

~A week ago on Saturday Mara and I went to an all day beekeeping class. We actually packed a lunch but then when lunch time came around they were offering taco salad and chocolate cake lunch for $1. That really sounded better than what we had brought and so we "splurged".
~On our way home that Saturday night we went to the grocery store. I had unsuccessfully tried to barter for salt and I didn't feel like we could manage much longer without it so I bought salt. This store also had butter on a pretty good sale and though I had been able to barter for 1 lb of butter I knew that wouldn't last to long (a week or so) and I really prefer to buy butter on sale rather than full price so I stocked up on butter- enough to last for several months.
~Ken stopped and bought 4 gallons of milk one evening.

That is all the "confessions" that I have so far but this evening we have a meeting over the supper hour at a deli in the grocery store and I do plan on eating out again! I also am going to splurge and buy some fruit and maybe a couple other things while I am there.

 I was, as I mentioned, able to barter a pair of pants for a pound of butter. I also bartered for a gallon of milk, 4 jars of peanut butter and 2 cans of tuna. I have another barter lined up to get toilet paper. I love this concept of getting rid of things we don't need in order to get things that we can actually use.

  Meanwhile we are still for the most part eating up and using things that we already have on hand and if we really were in a desperate survival situation we would really be eating well even without the butter, milk and salt. It has been a lot of fun to be able to eat meals that are mostly comprised of things that we had put up from our garden or things that we bought or gleaned locally like grain, potatoes, berries and beef.

 On Saturday I was making Galbi (a Koren BBQ beef) which calls for carrots and I was thinking it was neat that we still have carrots from our own garden and that they are keeping pretty well. Now mind you they are very tiny (I didn't thin them this year and that showed!- Next year I will do better.) but they are still yummy and good. There is only enough for one more meal but keeping til the end of February is better than we had done before.
 I have been really enjoying this whole time of getting by with less. It has been a cleaning out time for me. Cleaning out of our freezers (we have three though I think I can combine the two big ones now and turn one off), cleaning the odds and ends out of our cupboards and also cleaning out throughout the rest of the house. Over all in our house it felt like we had too much stuff and as I don't like just pitching things (I really hate waste!) I would rather make myself use what we do have or find someone that will use it and meanwhile not buy anything.  I love the out of the box thinking that this sort of project encourages.

 Though it seems that we are getting low enough on some things like fruits and veggies that we might have to buy a bit more in the way of food in the next while- I am going to continue in my goal of shopping just as little as possible and try to eat and use what we have as much as we can.

I am linking this to Homestead Revival.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

We are like a vapor

"Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit." Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow, You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that." James 4:13-15

  It is so easy to get caught up in life. To start planning it all out and thinking we have everything figured out. This verse is such a great reminder that everything we do should be done with God in mind. Realizing that we don't know what is going to happen in life. Life can feel stable but it is really uncertain.

 This is a reminder to seek God's will in everything that we do. I need that reminder! Do you?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

How to give without buying anything

     Lately in my quest to not buy anything I have been realizing more and more how very blessed we are. We are not lacking at all and it has made me think more about how I can maybe share some of our blessings with others.

  Because I am trying to stay out of stores I thought it would be fun to come up with a list of ways that we/you can give using what we have. Often gifts that are most appreciated or enjoyed are not something that comes from a store anyway.

 Here are some of my ideas and I would love to have you chime in and share your ideas too:
(many of these ideas do suppose that you have things on hand- just adjust to fit your circumstances)

  • Give a Smile! This is something that doesn't cost a thing and can be given out liberally. Smile at your family, when you go to church, as you look over at another driver while driving around town, smile at others at the library and more. A smile can truly brighten someone elses' day.
  • Offer a listening ear. There are so many times that people just want (and need) someone who will listen. This involves some time on our part but it is worthwhile. I have found people of all ages who need someone to listen to them, you just need to be aware of it (which I need to work at!). If you can't think of anyone to "give this gift" to than think about an older person that either lives alone or in a nursing home. They often like the gift of someone just willing to visit and listen.
  • Make a handmade gift using things that you already have on hand. I love to to this and if you can't think of any ideas along this line than feel free to browse through my posts on gifts.
  • Invite someone (or several someones) over to join you for a meal. I do this most at lunchtime and we don't serve anything fancy - often it is homemade soup- but it is a way we can try to encourage others and we are usually encouraged too.
  • Send a letter. This is simple to do but so very fun to receive in this era of very little personal mail.
  • Give hand-me-down clothes to someone that can use them.
  • Share a book that you have enjoyed with someone else.
  • Root a cutting from one of your plants and pot it to give to someone else. Plants are cheery and healthy and make great gifts!
  • Make a quilt or find any extra bedding you have and give it to someone that needs it (like a homeless shelter).
  • Give the gift of service- perhaps mending, housecleaning, yard work, laundry, gardening. etc.
  • Bake some bread or cookies and share them with someone.
  • Thin out your perennials and give the extras away.
  Giving is something that I really want to grow better at but I do know this- Whenever we do give we receive as great of blessing as the one you receives.

  I am looking forward to hearing your ideas of ways to give without shopping.

Friday, February 10, 2012

I Don't Buy..... Valentines (or any other cards)

To go along with the time of year I decided I would talk about Valentines today. I don't know that I have ever bought a valentine though I did used to buy other kinds of greeting cards.

 For the average person I doubt card purchases are a very large part of their annual budget but I personally try to be careful in the large AND small areas of our budget and so I don't buy any cards. This is not just for saving money however- I do think that card making is a lot of fun and when I involve the kids it is a chance for them to do crafts (which they enjoy) which can then be sent or given away to bring joy to someone else's day as well. I also just really like handmade things. There is something personal and special about giving or receiving something handmade.

 At our Homeschool groups' get-together this month the kids had a valentine exchange. That meant the each kid needed 30 valentines to give away. I admit it would have been easier (I would think anyway) to go out and buy something premade. That isn't our style though and though it took time we had a lot of fun working together to make the valentines using things we already had on hand. Here is what the kids did:

 Megan wanted to make fairly traditional heart shaped valentines. I simply gave her some odds and ends of paper, a glue stick, an ink pad and a stamp that said "Happy Valentines Day", some ribbon scraps that I had and she also used a heart punch and a hole punch and she got busy creating. She did also add some candy we had on hand to some of them. They turned out looking pretty sweet and it was an activity that kept her busy for quite some time!
Mara being older was able to do a little more complicated craft. At my suggestion she made crayon hearts using these instructions (which we found via pinterest) and some of our many old crayon pieces. After they were done she wrapped them up in cellophane which come around the flowers that I get for my business and then added little tags to them that she made on the computer.

 For the older girls Mara thought it would be nice to make something more mature. I suggested decorating some pencils that we had. The pencils were ones we had been given that had never been sharpened but had (for whatever reason) their erasers pulled off. She decided to decorate the eraser end. For one pencil the just glued on a silk rose that we had but then she decided to make flowers for the others and she came up with a very cute heart flower idea.
 Mara covered the top of the pencil with a round piece of felt and then glued 4 heart shaped pieces around to create the flower.
  One year I had made valentines for our kids by making animals out of hearts. I suggested that idea to Aaron this year and he thought that would be fun. We found even more ideas for heart shaped animals and the two of us had fun making a bunch. The above picture is a sampling of the ones that we made.
 Jonathan would prefer to skip the whole making of Valentines as he doesn't see the purpose (and I have to admit with big exchanges I kind of wonder myself!) but food he can appreciate. He decided to make some yummy granola bars for everybody and they were enjoyed! This recipe was another pinterest find and you can head over to Marathon Mom to find the recipe. It uses healthy ingredients, is really easy to make and very, very yummy. I have made and shared them several times now and they have been a big hit!
 Here are some other posts that I have written on cards making:

More Valentines Day ideas:
I am linking this to Frugal Friday at Life as MOM


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