Wednesday, March 14, 2018

A Colorful Train Quilt for Buirlen

   We are so blessed to have a bunch of little people in our family right now. In my side of the family (the ones we live near) there had been a break in the arrival of grand-kids for several years but in the last 2 years there are now 5 more. It is wonderful! Just recently we celebrated the 1st birthday of Buirlen. Megan and I decided to make a quilt for his birthday gift. 

   I had been thinking about making it for a month but I was finishing up some other gifts and projects and so I didn't end up getting to it until the day before his party. But with Megan's good help and even a little assistance from Aaron and Mara at the end we got it done.
 I was just going to have a bunch of colorful squares but Megan wanted some pinwheel blocks too. I thought that would be pretty appropriate since pin-wheels had been a big thing and Buirlen's parents wedding (you can see my post about it here). So we made three pin-wheel squares to go in the middle of the quilt. Then we just had a bunch of blocks. After those we sewed together I stiched a railroad track (using thread and ribbon) all around the quilt. Then we put two trains made of jean pockets on the track.
 I had wanted to make finger puppets to go in the trains but I didn't have time but Megan got it done. They turned out pretty cute. Buirlen thought they were fun to play with.

 This is the train on the other side.
 Megan made a really cut engineer to go in one of the engines.
 It ended up being a really fun project. The jean pockets I had been saving as I cut up strips for rugs and wanting to find something to do with them. They were the inspiration for this quilt. I still have a bunch more however so I am going to need to do something else with them too. The blocks all came from scraps of fabric that we had around. For the back of the quilt I used a piece of flannel that I had bought years ago on a sale. The lining was an old mattress cover that my neighbor had given me to make something with. It was amazing how perfectly it fit the quilt without any pre-planning on my part. God certainly blessed as we made it. We only had limited time to work on it and everything went together super smoothly. I was so thankful.

 By the way Buirlen's Mama has a neat blog that you might enjoy checking out.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Learning about Medieval Classes at Co-op

 This year our theme at our homeschool co-op has been Medieval Times. I have long loved history but hadn't paid a whole lot of attention to that time period before this year. I have truly loved learning a lot more about it.

  At this month's co-op gathering we talked about the class system and touched on Feudalism and Manorialism. It was a bit of work but pretty fun too. There were 5 different parents in charge of this month and then we also pulled in our highschoolers (9 of them) to help us as well. I was in charge of the Nobility and then we also had Royalty, Church (Catholic Church), Peasants (both the serfs and the freemen were put together) and City Folk (Merchants and Tradesmen).

  We all decorated a station for our different groups and the parent leaders and the highschoolers all dressed in costume. Here are a bunch of pictures from our day....

The one above shows the great hall that we created for our nobility station. We decided to portray the Sir Henry Percy Family of Warkworth castle. Josh (one of the teenagers in my station) had suggested that and researched them quite a bit. I had a blast learning more about them as well. Now I really want to go to England and visit the castle ruins.
 Annie was the other highschooler helping me. She was teaching the girls how to curtsy.
We also had the girls help us work on an embroidered tapestry that we were making for our home (it is creating a picture of Warkworth castle on it).
You might notice my lovely hat. Megan created it for me for the occasion. I didn't feel like I could be a true Lady without a proper hat.
 As the day began at co-op we had the kids all randomly draw some slips of paper (from their parent to show that they class that they were depended upon how they were born generally) that showed what class they belonged to. Then each class started their day by going to their home station. We had 3 young men that were nobles. After we told them about being nobles then all the groups rotated around and we would tell a different group and also explain how we would interact with them. So we told the peasants about the jobs we had for them, talked to the merchants about buying cloth and spices from them and so forth. Then after each group had been to each station they came back to their home station to eat lunch. We Nobles ate our lunch together and the other groups did as well. We served them food that went with their station.

  We nobles had a first course of chicken soup, 2nd course was roast, carrots, peas, bread, butter and honey and dessert was grapes and cheese.
 Here you can see the peasants coming and bowing to the King and Queen.
 The castle servant had made flowers that the peasants could give to the king and queen.
 This was the super cool draw bridge that the royalty had at their station.

 For their lunch they also had a first course of chicken soup. 2nd course was venison roast with carrots and peas and we stuck peacock feathers into the roast for some extra glamour. They had some really fancy bread, butter, jam, olives, grapes, cheese and grape juice. They also had cookies for dessert.
Here is the royal table.
 The peasants had a fun diorama to look at and learn from. They also learned about grinding grain.

 There was a fun sounding game of keeping the birds (balloons) off of the crops.

For their lunch time they sat on the floor and used low benches for their table. They had pottage (made from yellow split peas, barley, onions, garlic, cabbage and salt), dark bread and apples to eat. Nobody got forks to use as they weren't yet invented then.

 At the City folk's station the kids got to hear from Will the blacksmith, Jonathan the Carpenter and Lyndi the cloth merchant and general explainer of the City Folk.

Lyndi was able to wear the wool dress that Mara sewed by hand this winter which is made in an appropriate medieval style (Mara has been researching it a lot). I had fun helping Lyndi out with her head gear as well. I guess some queen in the 1300's was concerned about her sagging chin so she started wearing a band that went under her chin to make it so it wouldn't sag. She also wore one around the forehead as well. Pretty soon that was the style all over.

The City folk had roast, carrots, peas and bread for lunch.

 Jackie, Mara and Angel were nuns and portrayed having a place where sick people could go. They also talked about pilgrimages that were made in those days and others various Catholic teachings and history. They spoke in Latin a little bit so the kids would get to hear that.

The Clergy ate Pottage, brown bread and boiled eggs for lunch.

 Over all it was a really fun day. I hope the kids learned a lot and will remember it.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Needing Jesus

Life can get overwhelming sometimes. Whether it is a spiritual struggle (sometimes I wonder where that nasty attitude in me came from!) or a physical struggle (and there have been those lately) it is Jesus that I need to help me through. I am so very thankful!

 This song just kept playing over and over in my head last week as our family dealt with Influenza and while we were very tired, feverish and weak I also did flowers for a wedding and we watched my 2 year old nephew while his baby brother was being born. I saw God giving the strength to go on and the grace that we needed so many times. We are blessed beyond measure. This song has been a blessing to me I pray it might be for you as well.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

50 Ways You Can Create Less Waste This Year

  This past October I had a lot of fun working to live a zero waste lifestyle. Though I haven't been quite as strict since then I have still been making steps to live the lifestyle more on a normal basis. I guess I have been making steps towards doing that for a very long time but I just wanted to point out that I am still making progress. This is a goal but not a finished process.

 So, with it still being near the beginning of the year I thought I would list a bunch of different ways that we can create less trash this year. Maybe you would like to work towards the goal of creating less trash as well. If so, I would love to have you join me...

  1. Throw no food scraps in the garbage. Instead you can compost them, feed them to your chickens or various other animals or give them to somebody else who has animals and would gladly feed them your scraps.
  2. Use cloth napkins. It is easy to make your own. We really like the ones that I have made out of cotton polo shirts.
  3. Bring your own bags to all stores. I have discovered that in stores other than grocery stores they don't seem to expect you to supply your own bag but it works just fine. In some stores you actually get a few cents taken off your total for each bag used.
  4. Pack your lunches instead of going through a drive through.
  5. See what you can do to get less junk mail. This site has some ideas. I just signed up at this place but I have no idea whether it works or not.
  6. Make your own spray cleaner and put it in a re-used spray bottle.
  7. Drink tap water (or your own filtered water) and bring your own re-usable water bottle with you.
  8. Skip drinking pop/soda. It isn't good for you anyway.
  9. Bring your own cup to fill if you want to get coffee, tea, hot chocolate or I guess even pop at a gas station.
  10. Make food from scratch instead of buying pre-made heavily packaged food.
  11. Buy second hand whenever possible (though not food! ) and avoid all the extra packaging.
  12. Use handkerchiefs instead of tissue. I suggest making your own from old flannel sheets or pajamas or shirts.
  13. Save and re-use your wrapping paper until it is past that and you have to burn or recycle. Then use fabric pieces or bags for wrapping with.
  14. Buy food from bulk bins at your grocery store or health food store. Take your own containers, get a tare weight on them and then fill them. I guess you can also do that at the deli counter but I haven't tried that yet.
  15. Make your own deodorant.
  16. If you want to subscribe to something (a paper or a magazine, etc) do it digitally if possible.
  17. Mend your clothes and make them last as long as you can.
  18. Make your own salad dressings. I haven't been doing very good at this and I would like to get better at it. I saw this dressing recipe and would like to try it.
  19. Bring your own cloth produce bags to the grocery store. I still need to make some for me so that is a project in my future. If that sounds challenging to you - check out this simple tutorial.
  20. Get your eggs from your own chicken coop or from a local farmer and re-use the cartons over and over again. (Take them back to the farmer for him to use.) When they are finally completely worn out you can compost them or start a fire with them.
  21. I want to try out making a bees wax cloth wrap to use instead of cling wrap. I use cling wrap quite rarely but still I would like it to be not at all.
  22. Bake your own bread and skip the plastic bag that comes with store bought bread. It really isn't that hard. And it tastes so good!
  23. Make your own tortillas too. Again, they taste so much better!
  24. Buy your milk straight from a farmer if possible in your own glass bottles that you can use over and over again. We are so thankful that this is available to us - both in being able to buy cows' milk and my parents giving us goats' milk.
  25. Make your own yogurt and skip all those little (or big) plastic containers.
  26. Make your own toothpaste.
  27. Skip the dryer sheets and the fabric softener. Generally they really aren't needed. The smell they provide is unnatural and gives many of us headaches anyways. I think they do help a little to cut down on static cling but if you line dry your clothes you never will have issues with that and when you use the dryer just try to not over dry your clothes and then it will usually not be a big problem. I have been meaning to try making wool dryer balls again, this post tells all about them for an alternative.
  28. There are alternatives to buying shampoo and conditioner (which pretty much always come in plastic bottles). I personally have used the no 'poo method for years and have been fairly satisfied with it. You can read about how I do it here.
  29. Use bar soap instead of liquid hand soap and you can use a lot less plastic packaging (and save a fair amount of money). I like to get homemade soap that is not packaged personally.
  30. Use rags instead of paper towels. You can make them from old towels, cotton t-shirts, etc.
  31. Use bar soap instead of shaving cream. An electric razor is another way to avoid using shaving cream.
  32. I found that I could buy toilet paper in bulk and also not packaged in plastic at a local paper supply store. All the packaging now can easily be recycled or used for fire starter, etc.
  33. I personally prefer methods that create no waste for dealing with my menstrual cycle. Here is how I made cloth pads. I also use the Diva Cup.
  34. I have tried to make ketchup before but it wasn't successful - here is another recipe I have found. I think I might need to try it and hopefully I can stop buying plastic bottles with ketchup in them.
  35. Use cloth diapers. I haven't done this for many years but I was glad to do it when I had babies.
  36. Use cloth wipes too. Simply having a set of wash cloths for this purpose only that you get wet before you change their diaper works wonderfully. Just wash them with the diapers.
  37. Say "No" to unneeded freebies that businesses offer.
  38. Skip wearing make-up. I know this isn't desired for many but I am happy with life that way and it saves money and time as well as not creating trash.
  39. Turn old clothes into quilts or rag rugs.
  40. Can your own food in season with re-usable canning lids.
  41. Make your own sprouts.
  42. Buy food in bulk. We actually buy quite a few things in 50 lb. bags (wheat, rye, oatmeal, popcorn, rice, etc) which are generally nice paper bags that can be re-used/recycled. We then store it away in containers and eat on it throughout the year. This is only a good thing when you actually use what you buy. We do. We are quite careful not to overbuy and waste food. I also buy my cheese in 40 lb chunks which greatly reduces the amount of cheese packaging that I have to deal with.
  43. But your animal food in bulk. I am still wanting to figure this out for our cat and dog but for the chickens and rabbits this is working wonderfully. It saves a lot of money and I have no waste as I can bring back the bags that they put it in to be re-used. 
  44. Use baking soda for scrubbing sinks, tubs and toilets.
  45. Any plastic bread bags or zip lock bags or whatever sort of bags - wash them and re-use them over and over and over. Except I don't re-use ones that have meat in them. But I try whenever possible to put meat in containers rather than bags.
  46. Make your own underwear from old t-shirts. I have also been wanting to try making bras but haven't done that yet. Here is someone else's blog post on how to do that.
  47. Skip the breakfast cereal (with all it's packaging) and eat homemade granola or oatmeal or homemade pancakes or eggs and toast (from homemade bread) instead. 
  48. Make your own laundry detergent.
  49. Make your own lotion.
  50. Skip out on using paper or Styrofoam plates and cups whenever possible and just keep handy camping gear and such like that you can use instead.

There are way more ways to reduce our trash use than that but at least it will get us started. :-) By the way, nearly all of these ideas will also save a fair amount of money as well. It is a win-win!

Monday, January 22, 2018


  I have been thinking about neighbors a lot lately. We are blessed with some of the best neighbors a person could wish for. But though I love the ones that I know there are still a lot of people on our street that I do not know and some I haven't even met. I would like to change that. That is one of my goals for this year that I can make some measurable progress in getting to know and showing love to my neighbors.

   I have been thinking about some Bible verses about neighbors and figured I would share some with you. While I realize that the Bible clearly teaches that our neighbor isn't just the people that live next door or in our neighborhood - it is whoever should cross our path - I still think that our physical neighborhood is not a bad place to start as we try to follow these verses....

Romans 15:2
"Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. "

Proverbs 27:10 and 14
"Do not forsake your friend and the friend of you father, and do not go to your brother's house when disaster strikes you - better a neighbor nearby than a brother far away."
"If a man loudly blesses his neighbor early in the morning, it will be taken as a curse."

Matthew 19:17-19
"Why do you ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied. "There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments." "Which ones ?" the man inquired. Jesus replied, "Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as yourself."

Romans 13:9 and 10
"The commandments, "Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not covet" and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule; "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law."

Galatians 5:14
"The entire law is summed up in a single command; " Love your neighbor as yourself."

It is my desire to truly get to know my neighbors better this year.

Why do I want to know my neighbors?

  • So I can truly love them the way the Bible says I should.
  • So I can share the gospel with them.
  • Because it is fun.
  • Because it is very helpful to know your neighbors - to be able to help and share with them and they do the same for you. For the neighbors we do know and have known through the years this is truly a wonderful thing.
  • For safety's sake. If we know each other and a little of what is going on in each other's lives we could see and prevent a break-in or something like that. Also in emergency situations of various sorts it can be super helpful to know your neighbors and be able to help each other.
What is my plan for getting to know them?

  • I am hoping to host a neighborhood party this summer. We will probably see if our super sweet next door neighbors want to co-host with us.
  • When we have the party I plan on hand delivering the invitations and trying to meet people in the process.
  • I hope to have our neighborhood party early enough the we can then afterwards invite them to come to our 4th of July party as well.
  • I am thinking that maybe we will do May Day baskets for the whole neighborhood this year.
  • Inviting people that we do meet and feel at ease with over for a meal on a more one on one basis. I especially have the goal of making that happen with our next door (seasonal) neighbors on the other side (on the one side we have gone back and forth quite a bit.)
I am looking for more ideas on how to get to know and develop deeper relationships with your neighbors. If you have any suggestions please let me know in the comments!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Homemade {Colorful} Cleaner

Lately I had really wanted to have a spray cleaner in every bathroom (before I had been carrying one around to each one but I wanted a little more convenience) so I went looking and found that I did have some extra spray bottles saved. Yeah! I use spray bottles over and over again and have at times rescued empty ones from the trash after cleaning at the church building. I have hardly bought any spray cleaners for years and years.
    Anyway, I quickly put together some white vinegar, rubbing alcohol and water and had them all ready to go. I just lately discovered the nice addition of rubbing alcohol. It helps clean mirrors and windows nicely and also dissolved some sticky stuff. I was working on making labels for them when Aaron came along and wondered if he could "color them". Since I was working on the labels I assumed that is what he was talking about (and I think that was his intent) and I said sure and went off to teach Megan a piano lesson. He didn't finish labeling them but then I looked over and saw that he hadn't just colored the labels - the cleaner was all colored too. Food coloring at work.
  He was pretty tickled about his project and making my natural cleaner not so natural anymore. He thought they looked just like store bought now. Oh my silly boy!
   They seem to still be working fine but I will be a little more careful where I use them for the time being.
   Do you make your own spray cleaner? What do you use?


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