Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Seeking to Simplify {Making Decisions}

   As I deal with clutter in my house I realize that the reason that I have much of the clutter that I do is because I have put off making a decision. This was a surprising thing to learn about myself. I have always thought of myself as a quick decision maker and to be perfectly honest I can easily find irritating somebody who is being really slow to make a decision (for example I don't like to play Chess with somebody who takes it pretty seriously as the game drags on and on and on...). Some people can take forever to decide what to wear in the morning, or what they would like to eat or whatever. For the most part I like to be efficient and I think that part of being efficient is being able to make fairly quick decisions.

   But still,  as I have been going through more and more of my things I realize that the reason that they are clutter that bothers me is because in many cases I haven't made a decision about them. I have put off for another time that decision that needed to be made. Some of the decisions often are:

  • Do I need to take action on this? (Perhaps a letter that came in the mail or an e-mail) If so, can I do it right now so it is done and out of the way and I don't have to deal with it again?
  • Is this something I really want to keep?
  • Where does it belong? Can I put it there right now? If it doesn't have a place but I want to keep it can I figure out a home for it?
  • If I don't want it than what am I going to do with it? Give it away (When and where?), Recycle it, burn it, trash it, repurpose it (and if I repurpose it where does it go for now?)....
   As I have been forcing myself to make decisions lately and have seen my clutter areas improve (My desk has been clean nearly the whole month!!! That is a huge accomplishment for me!) it gets exciting. I love being more organized and not having cluttered up areas. It actually gets a little addicting and I realize that making those decisions isn't really that bad - in fact it is pretty fun.

   I will give you an example of one decision that I had been putting off for years and finally made this month. My Grandma Cleone was an artsy craftsy sort of person and during my growing up years when she would come to visit she would often bring ceramics for us to paint. We kids found that very fun. Also she would paint various ceramics and give them to us. I have a couple of those gifts from my childhood which I enjoy keeping around to see and remember her. But she also made us a ceramic plaque for our wedding. I think it was very near the end of her ceramic painting time and I don't think her eyes were working as well. And to be perfectly honest it was horribly done. Also a picture of hands and a bow just doesn't do a lot for me anyway. So, that has been hanging around since we got married over 18 years ago. I displayed for a little while but then it just stayed in storage. I didn't like it, to me it wasn't a good representation of what my Grandma could do anyway. So - this month it went into the trash. That decision felt very good. I don't have to continue running into through the years and think "Why am I keeping this?" but feel like I had to.

  Cheryl, another blogger, had mentioned how they pray about the items that they are trying to deal with. I have been taking time every morning to ask for God's leading in what I get rid of and what I keep - that I could glorify Him in this de-cluttering process. He is so good to help!

   Can any of you relate to this struggle with making decisions? 

This week has been a good one for decluttering. This week I got rid of 49 items. I kept my e-mail inbox cleaned out and I cleaned out a space every day. I still didn't sell anything. My going through my clothes (by wearing everything once before I re-wear things) has been helpful in finding a few items (worn out tights, underwear, t-shirts and socks) that really needed to be discarded. I honestly didn't expect to find that much there as I had gone through my clothes this fall but by actually wearing something rather than just looking at it I discovered more issues.

  Are you working on de-cluttering? How is it going at your house?

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Devil is Real

It seems that in the world we currently live in, our culture would like to pretend that there isn't any such thing as a devil (except when Halloween rolls around - but that acknowledgement isn't in a good way). But the harsh reality is that there is one. He is real and he is up to NO good. He is our enemy. So let's be aware of what he is about and be ready to fight with God's armor on!

Who is the devil?

He is a sinner. "The one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinner from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil." 1 John 3:8

He is a liar and a murderer. "You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies." John 8:44

He is a deceiver. "But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ." 2 Corinthians 11:3

He works to trap people. "with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will." 2 Timothy 2:25 & 26

He is powerful. "in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." 2 Corinthians 4:4

He has angels that serve him. "Then He will also say to those on His left, "Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;" Matthew 25:41

What does the devil do?

He tempts people to sin. "But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land?" Acts 5:4

Works to make sure the souls of men are destroyed. (See verse in picture above) "When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road." Matthew 13:19

He brings about false doctrine and false worship designed to deceive men. "For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light." 2 Corinthians 11:13-14 "But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons." 1 Timothy 4:1

He makes war with God's people. "So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus." Revelation 12:17

He accuses Christians before God. "Then I hear a loud voice in heaven, saying, "Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night." Revelation 12:10

The devil will be destroyed.
"Then He will also say to those on His left, "Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels." Matthew 25:41

"Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives." Hebrews 2:14 & 15

"And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophets are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever." Revelation 20:10

How can we overcome the devil in our lives?
Thanks be to God that we have Jesus Christ who was manifested so that He might destroy the works of the devil!!! (1 John 3:8) Through Jesus, God has provided us a way of escape. I am so very grateful!

  God has provided it but we must individually use that escape. To aid in doing that we are told to put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-20). James 4:7 says "Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you." Hebrews 4:15 & 16 adds: "For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."

  My hope is that you will be on guard against the devil and will be drawing near to the throne of grace each and every day!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

This Week in Pictures

Megan going up the big ski lift (actually the week before last but I didn't get it posted them)
On Sunday afternoon I had a booth at the Wedding Expo. Here are a few pictures from that.

On Thursday we got to watch my nephew for a while when my sister went to the chiropractor. We had fun! :-) The kids took turns caring for him. They were race through their school work so that it would be their turn. Jonathan made sure he was fed, Aaron entertained him with juggling a pillow with swords - Ephraim found it hilarious-  and Megan followed him around all over as he explored.

Some of my baking from Thursday.

 A tea time picture. Taken to share on the facebook page of an elderly friend who loves teapots. It is her birthday tomorrow and her grandson thought that would be a fun thing for a bunch of people to do.

Mara and I had a really fun time this afternoon attending a free photography class at the state park. It was extra cool as a friend of hers happened to be there too.

Mara the photographer. Below are some of the pictures that I had fun taking as we walked out on the lake.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Freebie Friday

Thanks for joining me as we celebrate some of the blessings in life that are free!

Five Fun things to do for Free
  1. Practice an Instrument. I think a large amount of people played an instrument (maybe violin in school, you took piano lessons as a child, you played the clarinet in highschool band or maybe you only learned the recorder) at some point in their life. Unfortunately when we hit adulthood (or maybe even before) we stop finding the time to play that instrument. I understand. I teach private music lessons and so I see students but I also see me. I am tired at the end of a busy day and going and reading blogs sounds more fun many times that practicing one of my instruments. However - when I make myself do it I can end up playing for a long time. I love it. The more often you play the more you will enjoy it. My family always seems to enjoy hearing me practice too so that is an extra bonus. Just because you have a busy life - don't give up on music. Have fun with it! :-) I am super curious by the way - do (or did) any of you play an instrument? Which one(s)? I would love to know!
  2. Plan and cook a "fancy" meal for supper. Try a new recipe or two. Serve it on your fancy dishes. Get your kids involved in the preparation. Add some candles to the table. Have fun!
  3. Have "movie" night with a movie your already own or one you can get for free on Netflix or Amazon or Youtube. Pop some popcorn and cuddle up on the couch.
  4. Look through old photo albums with the kids. Tell them stories about your childhood or early married life or when they were little. Those are wonderful times!
  5. Make an ice sculpture or so. You can use them to decorate outside in the winter or for a special event inside. Look around your house for possible molds - buckets, bowls, shaped cake pans, shaped ice cube trays, totes, jello molds, etc. Fill most of the way with water which you can add food coloring to if you like and then stick them outside or in the freezer to freeze. If you want to make an ice bowl you will need two bowls where one can fit inside the other with an inch or two between them. Tape them together at the top and fill with water between and then freeze. You can combine different chunks of ice together to make your sculpture.

If you want to stick on shaped ice cubes, just get them a little wet on the back and they will stick on just fine.

Learn for Free


"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:8-10

Have you been enjoying any freebies lately?

What Do You Have In Your Hand?

 First I thought I would give you a quick update on my no-spend challenge and then I want to share a few ideas that I have had for helping me/you to be more content with what we already have and to see them in a new and exciting light.

First an update: I have not been in a store (since the 1st when I purchased pop for Aaron when he was sick) and so we are using what we have. There has been a bit of money spent however. Not by me exactly (Ken got out his wallet) but I was involved so I will share those with you.

  • Last Friday we went downhill skiing. I was of the mind to wait until January was over but it was truly a night with lovely warm weather and I was out voted. We had a fun time. This sort of experience over buying things is part of the reason I like to save money so I am not sorry we did it. I did however pack our supper and hot chocolate so we didn't have to pay for anything besides ski rental for the kids (Ken and I own ours - we bought them second hand several years ago and it was a good purchase) and lift tickets for all of us.
  • Mara needed Ethanol for her college chemistry course. I told her to ask Ken to pick some up on his way home and he did.
  • Aaron started up his 4-H shooting sports again which required a payment. Ken did that when he picked him up on Tuesday evening.
  • Ken has also been buying milk on his way home from work from time to time.
We have not gotten any groceries this month (since December 17th actually) but Ken has picked up milk and my mom has given us a cabbage (they grew a bunch in their garden) and some eggs (as their chickens are producing better than ours). That doesn't mean that we are lacking in the food department however. In fact things have finally started to get fun for me. I have found I actually enjoy cooking much more when I have a little bit of a challenge. If I can just buy stuff from the store it ends up feeling a little un-interesting.

  Mostly we have tons of food still. We put up oodles of food in the summer and fall and also buy our beef and grains in bulk at that time. Things like salt and cheese I also buy in bulk. I also had found sales on things like butter, coconut oil and olive oil and stocked up heavily. So we have a lot of food. I shouldn't have any trouble feeding my family. But we have started to run out of some things so I have to think a little more creatively and that is fun. We now our out of onions (a staple at my house), our produce drawer is empty except for the part of a cabbage from my mom, some garlic and an apple that is from my parents tree this fall and is getting a little squishy. I have some more apples down in the root cellar wrapped in paper that I still need to check on - I am not sure how they are holding out. I also have some potatoes from our garden down in the root cellar that are doing fine but a pretty small. I have however been growing sprouts and we have quite a lot of frozen and canned veggies (that I put up this fall).

  It has been a fun time to try some new recipes.

This corn polenta recipe turned out pretty good. You brought chicken broth and cream (canned milk for me) to a boil and then stirred in the cornmeal, corn, salt, pepper and thyme. After cooking and stirring it a little I put it in a greased cake pan and stuck it in the fridge to harden. Then after around an hour I took it out and cut it into pieces and fried them. I then garnished it with a combination of  sauted corn, onion, green pepper (before I ran out of onion and frozen green pepper) and dried hot pepper. It turned out pretty good.
 I still had everything I needed to make pies (though without any white sugar - that's fine I had honey and for the pecan pie I had corn syrup and brown sugar) and I made 9 of them yesterday. The pecan pie is the unhealthy one - most of them are pretty good for you and we will be having pumpkin and apple pie for breakfast today.
 Last night I tried out a new recipe for wild rice and zucchini pancakes. It wasn't wonderful but it wasn't bad either. It was a good way to use up some of our frozen zucchini.

Here are some other things that we have been eating lately:

For Breakfasts:

  • Rhubarb muffins
  • Zucchini muffins
  • Eggs (Fried or Scrambled)
  • Toast
  • Granola
  • "Sausage" made from heavily seasoned hamburger. That was enjoyed by all.
  • Crepes with a goat cheese, raspberry and honey filling.
  • French Toast made from homemade wholewheat bread.
  • Pancakes
  • Waffles both of those served with real maple syrup and butter/peanut butter.
  • Oatmeal with Rye flakes soaked overnight.
  • Cream of Wheat (made from ground wheat)
  • Grits/Cornmeal mush (made from freshly ground corn)
  • Sliced Cheese
  • Cinnamon Biscuits
  • Apple Crisp
For main meals:
  • Homemade Tomato Soup
  • Goat Cheese and Herb Quesadillas
  • BBQ Chicken
  • Fried Potatoes with Hamburger Gravy and Cheese over top
  • Runzas
  • Chicken noodle or dumpling soup
  • Biscuits and Gravy
  • Beef Tongue cooked with Potatoes, celery, onions and garlic
  • Steak fajitas
  • Cabbage and Sprout Salad
  • Corn
  • Green Beans
  • Apple sauce
  • Dal - a recipe I was prompted to try because of this challenge. It was delicious!!! and Easy!!!! And used inexpensive ingredients! I loved it. (I don't think I followed the recipe perfectly however but it was close.)
  • Fried Duck
  • Brown and Wild Rice Pilaf - another new recipe that I didn't follow perfectly (as I used what I had) but it turned out really good.
  • Homemade "Hamburger Helper". A pasta, cheese and hamburger dish that Mara made the was very much enjoyed.
  • Wild Rice and Zucchini pancakes
  • Homemade Bread
  • Chicken Salad Sandwiches
So obviously we are not going hungry. :-) There are many other things that we have made too but the list gets to long and I can't remember everything.

Here are a couple of other things we have done using "What we had in our hand".

 Decorating the mantle. I had taken off all the Christmas decorations and wanted something new. I had fun finding all of my milk glass vases and pairing them with a couple of lanterns and filling them with flowers and greenery. I did happen to have flowers because I had a booth at a Bridal Show this week and I had flowers leftover from that. Which by the way was some other money I spent but I didn't count that as it was a business expense and came out of that account.
 Even if you don't have flowers - greenery looks cool too. I really like the look of this vase with the evergreen branch in it that I just got off of our property.
 Last week I tried my hand at making shoe/leather polish. We were needing some and I also made some as a gift to my brother. I found basic instructions here, modifying it just a little to use what I had on hand. I tried tinting some brown with black walnut hull but that wasn't overly successful.
Another part of the gift for my brother was some homemade crackers (that Mara made), a cheese ball (made with cream cheese, Monterrey Jack cheese, herbs and spices and rolled in chopped walnuts) and some hot pepper jelly that I made this fall.

That is my no-spend report and how we have used what we had in our hand. Now for our newest ideas for doing that more.

This is a combination of my goal to simplify and also to use what we have while not spending any money. All of this while having fun and getting excited about using things that we already own.

It started with an idea that our game cupboard was too crowded. So I thought - why not on the family nights when I get to pick a game (we rotate through the family concerning who gets to choose), I pick a game we haven't played for a long time. That way we can either have fun playing something fresh and "new" or we can discover why we haven't been playing it (it isn't any fun) and get rid of it thus cleaning out our game cupboard. There might be some games that don't work for this exercise as they might be games for younger children (which we might want to save a couple of for guests and grand kids someday) or they may be ones we like but can't play as a whole family because 6 people can't play them together.

  Next I was thinking about our crowded bookshelves. We love books and I don't just discard them willy-nilly but we do need to either weed some out or build more shelves. We already have, I am quite sure, over 1,000 books. So I decided that I would make a plan to read through all of our books in the next few years. Instead of getting new books from the library or reading as many free books on my kindle I would read ours. Many of them I have read before but I wanted to re-read them (which I like to do anyway) and then really think about whether this was a good book to keep on our shelves. Is it truly a GOOD book? I told the kids about my plan which the boys thought sounded impossible but the girls thought it would be fun to do it too. So we decided to have a race. Who could read all the books first???

  We did set up a few exceptions....

  • We don't have to read books in other languages (we have a couple of Greek books that were given to Ken by his Greek professor and they have sentimental value and we have a Spanish Bible which is there for us to use should we study with someone who has Spanish as a first language - Mara may take it to the mission field in a couple of years).
  • We don't have to read books that are overtly textbooks - So we don't have to read through all of our math books which is nice!
  • We don't have to read books that we have more than one of (though potentially we may get rid of them).
  • If a book is one we decide we don't want we can get rid of it without finishing reading it.
  • We don't have to read all of the Bibles. We decided 5 different copies will be sufficient. I agreed to this exception after I realized that I didn't want somebody else taking my personal Bible away to read.
  • We don't have to read the dictionaries or the concordances.
  • We don't have to read the cookbooks (Aaron set that exception up as he was afraid I might go overboard with new weird recipes).
It has been fun that since we started this a couple of days ago Megan has been going to town with reading. She loves to read anyway but has often complained of not having anything to read. This is forcing her to find and enjoy what we already have. She read a book about Albinos that she wouldn't have normally been drawn too but it caused her to learn something new.

I happened to run across this video which I found pretty fun because it went along with what I was already thinking about in other areas. She challenges you to go through your closet/clothes systematically and wear everything once before you start re-wearing. This will cause you to wear things that might get neglected, get creative about clothes combinations (which can cause it to feel like a whole new outfit) and find clothes that really don't work for you because they don't fit or you just don't like them. Those can then be gotten rid of. If you struggle with figuring out what to wear each morning or have an overflowing closet or are in any way overwhelmed by clothes I encourage you to watch this video. Though I don't have a big issue in the clothes department I thought this would be fun to do as well.

Since I was doing all these other things I thought it would be good to clean out my messy cookbook cupboard and use at least one recipe from each cookbook. If I couldn't find one recipe that I wanted to use than I would get rid of the cookbook. 

So, those are some of my new challenges to make me use what I have, prompt me to go through stuff and get rid of things that are simply clutter. It will be fun because things that I haven't used much will feel new to me.

What have your been eating lately? Have you done any eating out of the pantry lately?

Would you do any of the challenges that I am working on? Why or why not?

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Seeking to Simplify

How was you all's week? Was it productive in your goal to get rid of clutter and simplify?

  We had a good week. 57+ items were gotten rid of, a space was cleaned out 5 different days, Lots and lots of picture files were gone through and organized and my e-mail inbox stayed pretty cleaned out (though I didn't get it done every single day). Unfortunately I didn't sell anything or even really work on that.

   This year has gone well in this area so far but still there can be discouragement from time to time. A project took longer than I hoped, or I just don't feel good and things don't get accomplished or something else comes up and needs to be done instead. That happens in my life. Does it in yours? I am guessing it does. So today I just wanted to share a couple of tips that are working for me and just some encouragement not to give up!

Here are some of the best solutions I have found for conquering excess of stuff....

Don't bring it into the house. 
First off - I am not a "purist" in this area. Yes of course I do bring in stuff from time to time. I even say "yes" gladly and thankfully when somebody asks if I would like a bag of hand-me-downs. That did happen this month and I did say yes. But I also looked through them right away, took out the few that would work for us, quickly bagged the rest back up, put them out in the van and dropped them off in the DVA bin the next time I was in town. We were blessed by what worked for us and hopefully others will be blessed by the other things. So - it isn't that we don't allow anything in but do it "responsibly" 😁.

How can we avoid things coming in?

  • Don't subscribe to magazines, etc.
  • Unsubscribe from e-mails. One less thing to bother with later.
  • Get on the "do not call list" (this isn't physical clutter but it is time clutter to deal with phone calls) and then when you still get calls from organizations ask them to take you off their list.
  • DON'T SHOP. Obviously we have to some of the time but I think far to often it is done recreationally instead of out of a real need. Before you shop clean out your closet and your kids closet and make sure all your laundry is clean to be sure you really do need that item of clothing. Also mend and polish shoes so you can see all that you have in their best light. Figure out where something is going to go before you bring it home. Think twice, three or more times before purchasing something that could potentially clutter up your house.
I did have some other things I really wanted to share but it is getting late so this will have to be continued next week.

Meanwhile I would love it if you would share your tips!!!

Our Great God

I believe there is a God. This particular post will not go into the proofs of an intelligent designer (of which there are many!!!!) but rather I will focus on Bible verses that tell us more about the God that I do believe in - and I hope you do too.

  "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Genesis 1:1. Looking at our world we see so much evidence of an intelligent designer and in faith I believe the it was God who created all that. Nobody was around to observe creation so anything (whether the Biblical account or Evolution or anything else) is believed in faith. There is no other option.

"The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands." Psalms 19:1  

Start looking around. Look up at the stars and study our great universe. It all points to God.

Our God is personal. 
"God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world." Hebrews 1:1
God speaks to us. He didn't just create us and then leave us to our own devices.
"For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is not creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do." Hebrews 4:12-13
He see in our heart and knows us completely.
"Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them." Psalms 139:16
He created us and knows all about us.

There is one God.
"For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time." 1 Timothy 2:5 & 6

God is Strong and Smart!
"Great is our Lord and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite." Psalm 147:5

God is a God of love.
"The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." 1 John 4:8-10

He is a God of wrath.
"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is know about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them." Romans 1:18 & 19

He is faithful!
"No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it." 1 Corinthians 10:13
"For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; If we endure, we will also reign with Him; if we deny Him, He also will deny us; If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself." 2 Timothy 2:11-13

God is Holy.
"But like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written "You shall be holy, for I am Holy." 1 Peter 1:15 & 16

He doesn't change.
"Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow." James 1:17

God is eternal.
"I say, "O my God, do not take me away in the midst of my days, Your years are throughout all generations. Of old You founded the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. Even they will perish, but You endure; and all of them will wear out like a garment; Like clothing You will change them and they will be changed. But You are the same, and Your years will not come to an end." Psalms 102:24 -27

 There is so much more that can be said about our Great God. There are so many more verses that I could share. But I don't have time to write them all out today. I encourage you however to read God's word faithfully for yourself (as I know many of you do!!) and find out from it what an amazing and wonderful God that we have! Also - look around you each and every day to see Him at work all around us.

What verses about God do your really love? What character trait draws you especially close to Him?

Friday, January 20, 2017

Freebie Friday

This post is about celebrating the many wonderful things in life that don't require going out and spending money. 

Five Fun things to do for Free

  1. Play music.
  2. Make a rag rug. Maybe not everybody finds that super fun but I sure do! :-)
  3. Take a walk and take pictures of beautiful things that you see. Be observant and creative in your picture taking. Beauty can be found pretty much everywhere.
  4. Invite a friend over for tea or coffee and a chat.
  5. Go watch a robotics tournament. Or have your child get involved with robotics. It is pretty interesting and generally sponsored by businesses so that makes it pretty much free for the kids. Also it doesn't cost to go watch. The picture below is an old one of Jonathan's team but they are busy working on their robot again and we will be heading to the state competition in a couple of weeks.

 Learn for Free

  • How to make ribbon roses. Megan and I were working on some decorations for a friends wedding and so I watched this video as a reminder of how to make ribbon roses. I love Youtube videos for learning things like that!

  • Veritasium is a Youtube channel that the kids and I have enjoyed watching quite a few science videos on. He does a lot of neat experiments and checks out interesting things. I don't say that I agree with everything (I don't really know his world view) and we haven't watched nearly all the videos but much of what we have watched has been good.
Read for Free (on your Kindle or possibly other devices)

Listen for Free

This song by Joey and Rory reminds me that I still have a giveaway of their DVD going on for another 24 hours. You can enter it here.

Free Gifts to Give

Things to Print for Free


"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Romans 6:23

Disclaimer: When I say free it doesn't mean that it didn't cost somebody something. Also I may list various activities that are free to me because I already own the equipment needed but if you don't than it wouldn't be free to you - just skip those. Some things that might be listed might not be truly free (like inviting your neighbor to join you for supper) but really aren't going to cost much more than you would already be paying.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

What Do You Have in Your Hand? {Making Gifts for Babies}

For a quick update - my no-spend challenge is going well with no extra expenditures this past week. We still have plenty of food to eat (like way more than plenty but I did do some baking today so that there was something quick and easy to eat no just wheat berries and meat in the freezer :-) ) and it has been a great time to get the fridge all cleaned out and use up somethings that can sometimes get ignored for a while like Beef Tongue. That was on the menu for supper tonight. It tastes good but it isn't terribly fun to prepare so I tend to put it off. But this month I am on a mission to clean out clutter and to use up things that might go to waste and stuff like that so I made it and we ate it. 

   We have had some births and birthdays lately and so along with my plan of doing handmade gifts this year we made some presents for those occasions. We had a pretty fun time doing it too and they were great opportunities to work together as a family.

  Our big project last week was a rocking horse for my nephew Ephraim's 1st birthday. I have always thought that rocking horses were kind of fun (and they just look so old fashioned - which I like too) and when I was browsing at the library I happened across a book on making rocking horses and I thought - Now that would be fun to make for Ephraim. So I brought it home. The book actually told how to make these super fancy, hand carved in detail horses which would take a LOOOOONG time to make so we didn't follow those patterns. But still it had got me thinking.

   So, I asked the men in the family if they thought they could help me make a rocking horse. Ken said "No, we're not that talented" (Woodworking is not really his specialty though he has very successfully made quite a few things but it is a slow process and not one he truly enjoys - his talents lie in other areas) but Jonathan was willing to help me give it a go.
  I found the wood from our stash up in the attic of the detached garage. Jonathan and I looked at pictures on Pinterest and decided on a design and then Megan and I went to work at drawing out the pattern on the wood. That was Wednesday night after church. The birthday party was Friday evening so we needed to get busy. I am working to learn not to procrastinate but it is still a long process I think with my learning.

   On Thursday morning Jonathan cut out all the pieces (while I taught music lessons), he got to skip some of his other school work for this special "shop class". On Thursday afternoon Megan and I sanded the pieces (while he was off to Robotics) and I commissioned Aaron to carve a handle. As soon as we got the pieces sanded I stained them.

  After Jonathan got home on Thursday evening we went to work to put them together starting at about 9 pm. I thought it would take maybe 45 minutes. Ken helped us find all the tools and screws we needed and gave advice but still we were up working on it until around 11:30 pm.

The next morning I went to work at getting it varnished.

 After 2 coats of that were dry (thank-fully we had some varnish that dried nice and fast) Megan and I filled in the screw holes with putty.
 Mara had some leather that she made ears from. Megan painted the eyes. I had to fill in around the handle with some foam and felt so that the handle fit snugly.
 I set Aaron to work at cutting yarn for the mane.
 Then I braided a long piece and glued it all together.
 Next to glue it all in place. We love being able to use a hot glue gun for projects that get done quickly.
 It is coming together! Mara made and attached a tail.

 It is ready to ride. I was nervous about it but both Aaron and Megan tried it out and it held up fine.
 It works! Yeah! We were able to make it completely from things we already had on hand. Another Yeah!
 Ephraim is still kind of little for it and wasn't sure about it but hopefully it will be a very fun thing for him to have as he gets a little older.

Another gift we made very recently was this little outfit for a new little guy at church (it is big for him yet but I wanted it that way). The shirt was made using some guidelines from this post. The pants tutorial is from here.
 This outfit below was one I made as a gift a this past summer but I realized I never blogged about it so I thought I would share it here too. It also was one I made using things that I already had on hand.
Making homemade gifts can be time consuming but it is also fun and I find it rewarding. Not all projects take a super long time. Both of the outfits only took around an hour to make. The rocking horse however was a longer project. Just for interest sake we calculated man hours that went into it and it was around 14. But it was a learning process as well. Sewing is something I have done for a long time and am confident at - wood working not so much. But the more we do anything the faster we get.

How have you made do with what you had "in your hand" this week?

Do you have any favorite gifts to make for babies?

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Seeking To Simplify

I read a post this week that really got me to thinking. It is titled how Minimalism is Biblical by Allie Casazza. I am tempted to tell you all about the post but it makes more sense for you just to go read it yourself. :-)

She does quote this verse (among others)
"And He said to them, “Take care, be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."
— Luke 12:15

After reading her post I also started thinking about and noticing other verses of this nature. This is something I am going to study into more. 

So if you want some encouragement in getting ridding some clutter in your house I encourage you to go check out her blog (I have only just found it and read on it a little - but I enjoyed what I did read).

 Working on my simplifying goals went pretty well this past week. Some days I didn't get them all done but then I worked and caught up on other days so I did manage to declutter an area all 5 days, to go through 5 or more photo files per weekday and I decluttered a total of 41 items. Again I didn't get anything sold BUT I did take pictures and list an item on Craigslist so at least I did try. :-)

How is simplifying going at your house? What are you especially working on? What is your motivation for simplifying?


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