Friday, May 10, 2019

Glimpses of Wedding Preparations

 One week until Mara and Thomas' wedding. It is coming up quickly and our house looks like it. There are wedding associated things all over the place. But we are having fun and for that I am so thankful! God has truly blessed us with peace and joy in the midst of a busy time.

   Wedding prep isn't the only thing keeping us busy. Just lately we took a fun trip to go on a super neat field trip (out of town) that I totally have to blog about soon. Today was a bridal shower for Mara in the morning. This evening (another thing I need to blog about) we have a fun new experience with a film premiere for the short film that the highschoolers in our homeschool co-op put together this year. They did a great job. This has really been Jonathan's baby as he loves this sort of thing and he has spend hundreds (Thousands???) of dollars to buy the filming equipment that he needs and he spent hundreds of hours working on it as well. This last week he generally was up until midnight to 3 am and then up again pretty early to get it done on time. Anyway - hopefully more about that later with a link to the film.

Just now I thought I would share a few glimpses of the wedding prep.....


 Handmade lace....

 Wood burning is rather fun.

Items for children's activities
 Collected pussy willows for decorating.
Yesterday my sister-in-law, MollyBea came over and we have a fun time painting some wall decorations together.

 I can't wait to share the finished products soon!!

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Birthday 13

 This week we celebrated Megan's 13th birthday. So now all our children are teenagers. And we are so blessed! I was looking forward to these years and I am not being disappointed. Yes there are challenges and I sure loved the little years too but this time period is pretty cool. These children of ours are all so close to stepping out and living life without us (less than a month before Mara gets married) and we are seeing how God is using them and their potential for serving Him in the future and it is pretty exciting!
We did some measuring after I took this picture and found that Mara is 5' 9" (no change lately), Jonathan is 6' 4 1/2", Aaron is 5' 8" and Megan 5' 2". The youngest 3 have all been growing lately and I am guessing especially with the youngest 2 that there will be quite a bit of growing this year. We shall see.

   Megan's birthday is fun. She more than any of the others likes to make it a special event. So months before the birthday arrived she was designing a dress to wear and a cake to make. She drew pictures of dress designs, made a pattern and figured out fabric (from our stash of course - we generally don't buy things when we are making things we use from things we have been given) and then started sewing. I helped a little here and there with advice but it is her project.
She isn't ready to go professional with her dressmaking but she did a pretty good job.
The white fabric came from a duvet cover that we had been given, the dark blue fabric was leftover from a project years ago, the light blue chiffon fabric was leftover from a bridesmaids dress that I made over 10 years ago. The buttons, trims and zippers had been in our stash for a long time. It was lovely for her to put these items to use.
She has been watching tons of cake decorating videos on Youtube and this was her creation for the day. A 3 layer chocolate cake with chocolate pudding, frosting and cream cheese fillings and then mint chocolate chip frosting with chocolate glaze and cream cheese frosting roses. On top is a 3 layer angel food cake (made from scratch).
She set aside the day before her birthday for making it. :-)


 It was pretty rich but quite delicious.


Megan has been wanting a hope chest and that seemed like a good 13th birthday present. So I took a break from the wedding sewing and projects and with Ken's help in cutting the wood (I can use a chop saw fine but the circular saw and table saw scare me a bit) we made her a hope chest.  

 It turned out plenty big and she thinks it is fun to get inside of it.
The boys think that is fun too and they then get on top of it. Silly boys!

 We used wood that came from a tree that we cut down while building our house and then my dad cut it up on his sawmill and with his help we planed the boards later. I used an old leather belt to make handles on the ends. We used screws and hinges that we had on hand.
 My mom gave her some doilies for her hope chest that had been made by my Grandma. Keren and family gave her cake pans and cake decorating things and MollyBea and family gave her a lovely apron so she is getting all sorts of kitcheny things for her hope chest.

 Three of my nephews were over for Megan's birthday and they were the most adorable helpers for getting all the presents unwrapped!
 Megan was pretty excited that because she is now 13 she could get a accounts on Facebook, Gmail and Pinterest.

  Megan thought her birthday was super fun and we had fun with it as well. We are so blessed to have a Megan in our family.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Wedding Planning

This evening we went to supper (in the midst of a snowstorm 😃) at some friends. They are another homeschooling family that we see a lot in the summer as they come to the weekly homeschool baseball as well but not so much in the winter. It was fun to see them.

   They are going to play the music for Mara's wedding so we listened to some songs to make decisions on what would be played. They do an awesome job and I am pretty excited to hear them play at the wedding.

  Wedding projects are coming along nicely. Sewing is in progress, Mara has been taking regular walks in the woods to find odds and ends (like bark, moss and branches) that we can use in the decorating, Dad brought me a bunch of Apple tree branches that he trimmed which I am hoping that I can get to bud for me. I collected some pussy willows and hopefully will get some more. The invitations are basically all out. The cups and napkins ( both paper so they can decompose) and plates (made out of wheatgrass so they are compostable) all came recently. A friend is bringing up cake pans and my sister is researching recipes. Things are coming together. We are so blessed to know so many talented people who happily help out.

  What is going on in your life just now. Are you getting snow as well or has Spring stayed around at your place?

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Quarterly Report on Spending and Trying to Live Waste Free

 On January 13th I had shared some goals and dreams that I had for 2019. I had hoped to report on those goals each month but that didn't happen so we are going for the quarterly report now. :-)

 I chose the backpacking picture above because in my efforts to simplify, create less waste, spend less on stuff and more on adventures and memory creating I have thought a lot about our backpacking, biking and canoeing trips. Those are so good for learning what things are really essential and what isn't.

I had quite a few different goals that I blogged about but this post will be focused on reporting on these particular goals:

   
  • Creating as little waste as possible.
  • Not spending money. Exceptions would be giving, traveling, paying for experiences, paying our mortgage, insurance, utilities and anything else of that nature, buying gas (though I hope to drive less and bike more) and purchasing necessary food and consumables like toilet paper and soap. I can barter for other items or use money earned at a consignment shop to get other items there. I will try to grow or forage just as much of our food as possible and we will work as hard to use up food that we have rather than buying. Also - things will come up -such as a wedding. I will be doing my best on this one (in trying not to make a lot of needless purchases or create trash) but will try to use common sense and not be overly fanatical when it comes to this event.
  • Eating local low or unpackaged food just as much as possible.
  • Continue to get rid of 25 items each week and sort through 5 spaces each week. I am happy to report that I did accomplish getting rid of 25 items a week last year plus way more. I almost cleaned our 5 spaces a week but was 7 spaces shy for the year.

First, a financial report:
These are the areas that I have spent money on. This is from my receipts and checkbook. I didn't monitor Ken's spending though I may report on a few things that he spent money on. I am the primary grocery shopper in our family. He did go once during this time to get a few things that he wanted that I didn't have on hand. Just to let you know - it was my goal to spend less but I don't think I accomplished it all that well so far. I'll keep trying.

Groceries
January Total: $174.04
February Total: $292.62
March Total: $450.99 (There was a nice little chunk of this that was food that I stocked up for Mara's wedding reception in May)

Gas
January Total: $28.37 (I am guessing that Ken filled up the van sometime during this month - normally I fill up the van because I drive it the most - but this total seems pretty low)
February Total: $102.78
March Total: $155.62

We have done a lot of running around this year. It has largely been because the kids are in Theater. That will be over this weekend so hopefully our gas spending will go down.

Medical
I failed to mention earlier on that this would be an expense that we would also be dealing with. Mara, like I told you earlier, has been experiencing a lot of health problems so we are doing what we can to figure out her problems and resolve them. Our insurance is also high deductible so most costs are being paid out of pocket.
Quarterly membership for Mara at TrueNorth Healthcare $225 (this pays for all her doctor visits there)
Glasses for Mara: $64
Lab work $40
Various Shields that are supposed to protect us from EMFs $250 (this is something I bought that came in plastic and is not consumable - so it didn't follow my plan for buying this year but I decided it was worth it).
Chiropractor visit for me $45 (I did a silly fall when skiing this year and hurt my tail bone which threw my back off. I fell at the top of the hill when we had stopped to visit.)
Supplements (mostly for Mara) $110.58 This is another area where I broke my zero waste rule and most of these came packaged in plastic in some way.

Entertainment/Eating Out/Experiences
We did go skiing as a family twice (minus Mara who doesn't enjoy it so much and was off on a trip to Kansas). We also went out to eat once both times we went. The first time skiing cost $94 for lift tickets for the 5 of us and rental for one. The second time I think we paid closer to $250 for the day of skiing (at a bigger place.
I also took Megan and Aaron with their 4-H group and paid $16 for Aaron to ski and Megan to tube.
Shooting sports with 4-H for Aaron was $40 (to help pay for all the ammo he uses)
After opening night at Theater we went with a group to Perkins and spent $18.53
This evening Mara, Jonathan and I went to the Theater with some extended family and watched "Unplanned" - a moving film that I recommend. It was $5 per person today so total was $15.

Miscellaneous 
500 lbs of Chicken Feed: $113.30
Flowers for gifts for my actresses on opening night: $9.71
Piano Tuning: $40
A new Iron that was needed as we work on dresses for the wedding (the old one was leaking, not working well and staining) $17.96 - not in my plan for buying this year but since we needed it for the wedding I did.

This post does not go into the money we spent on our trip to the Virgin Islands. I have another post devoted completely to that here.

Decluttering is going well. There is still a lot of room for improvement but I have cleared out at least 25 items each week. I can see progress being made and it is exciting!

Trying to live zero waste is going okay. I still have room for improvement but I have made a lot of steps towards creating less waste. I guess I will have to report more on this in the future as it is getting late and my trash picture is not uploading. :-)


Saturday, March 30, 2019

This Week - Fun times while saving money

 We have had a fun week. I thought I would share a few things I took pictures of.
I was invited to a baby shower on Thursday. I decided to make a dress and headband for a gift. I used some t-shirts that we had gotten for political candidates and that were pretty much new. It took me some time to make but saved money and I liked the fact that I was using something I had (and hence getting it out of my place) and not causing more things to be made. I made two sets as there were  two sisters having baby girls.


 My pictures aren't very good but it at least gives you a little idea of the play that our kids are in right now. They are performing in "The Reluctant Dragon". It is cute and funny. I hope to take better pictures next time we go. Our kids were given vouchers so Ken and I were able to use those and get in free.
This evening I cut into the fabric that Mara bought for her bridesmaids dresses. The first one (of 3) is cut out - now to get it sewn. It was a little nostalgic as I was using part of the pattern that I used to make the bridesmaids dresses for my wedding over 20 years ago. We are using a different skirt pattern but the same bodice pattern that my bridesmaids had. I did make the neckline a little different and both the bodice and the sleeves a little longer. So it will look different.

   We have been working out different details on the wedding which has been fun. There has been some money spent (Mara bought fabric and a vest pattern and she and Thomas bought stamps and invitations and I have bought some food) but we are spending way less than most do. I will have fun sharing some of our ways we have been frugal at some point.

  How was your week?

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Foraged Bouquets

 So I had set the goal of making a bouquet from something I had foraged outside every week this year. I was also hoping to blog about it. That hasn't gone to terribly well so far. I have completely foraged 4 bouquets so far and partially foraged a couple more. I did share my pine cone bouquet and the bouquet I was able to gather while in St. Thomas (that did feel a little cheating to be in the tropics in February to gather a bouquet :-). 

  Before I had gone I had stopped by the side of the road one day and gathered a bunch of Highbush Cranberry branches with berries on them. I had kept noticed this large row of them as I drove by (they weren't by anybody's house or anything) and the bright red looked so pretty against the snow. I have been surprised that the birds haven't eaten them. Anyway I picked some. The stems holding the berries were a little fragile and the berries a little squishy but if you didn't mess with them to much they made a fun decoration for our table.
we had them there for around a week. I don't think I would really recommend using them (after being frozen anyway) for a wedding bouquet but you could if you wanted to.

This was my "Wedding bouquet" look with some white lace around the bottom.
 I did a woodsy theme at the Bridal show this year. I ordered flowers in for that but I also used some foraged items. In the bouquet above I had acorns that had been gathered, lichen from the birch trees and some highbush cranberry twigs that I had stuck in water and the leaves had sprouted on them. Which is a fun thing to do if you are feeling a little impatient for Spring to arrive. Cut off some sort of twig/branch around your place, stick it in water and it will probably start sending out leaves. Maybe even flowers.
 This bouquet had branches in it that I had gathered from our woods.
This centerpiece boasts  branches, wood pieces, a little canoe that Aaron made out of birchbark, moss, pinecones, a bird's nest, sweet gum balls (found when in North Carolina and saved) and acorns - all foraged. It is a super cheap way to make a centerpiece, the other parts were repurposed glass bottles and 3 stems of flowers and a little greenery.

 We still have very, very tall stacks of snow (we got around 6 more inches on Sunday) but it is melting some now. Flowers are a ways off but there is always beauty to be found.

  I am curious what is going on where you live - do you have things growing already or do you still have a lot of snow too?

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