Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Making pottery

This month we went to a couple of home school co-op classes where we learned about life in the Fur trading time and we learned how to make pottery like the Native Americans have for thousands of years. If was quite interesting. We didn't actually go out and dig the clay, the teacher had already done that. I guess you need to dig clay and then let it dry out and then the next step is pounding it up. That is what Aaron is shown doing above, it looks like he is working very hard. After you pound it you need to sift out the chunks. Our teacher used a wire colander and put it through that. The fine stuff that went through was then mixed with water to make a fine clay. I didn't learn about proportions so I guess I will have to guess.
Then when you work with the clay you need to mix it with some fine sand or crushed up shells to help make it so your pots won't crack. Above the kids are sifting the sand so they could get the big chunks out of it. Then we worked a little sand into our chunk of clay. To form to base of the pot you make a hollow in the ground (we were inside because of rain so we used buckets of sand to make our molds). The hollow you make is the mold for the base of the pot. Inside that form you place a thin layer of leaves.
Then you start to form your pot in that hollow. You want to be sure that the clay is even in thickness and around 1/2 in thick. You don't want any holes either. After you get the base part done then you can start adding coils to build it into your desired shape. You need to smooth out the coils so that the whole pot is smooth however. After that is all done then you can add decorations to it by engraving with a sharp stick or pressing it with other textures like the end of a bone or a stick wrapped in twine. Then let your pot dry for a week or so. At this point you need to scrape the bottom with a shell to make it even. Then let your pot dry for about another week.
Then you need to build a nice fire and let it burn down to coals and then carefully place your pot on some coals and then cover up the it up with more coals. Let it stay in there for 45 minutes (approx.) and then carefully take it out. During the firing time I guess it is common for pots with weak spots to break but it was neat because though there was a bunch of amateurs making pots at this class, none of them broke.
Here is one of our finished pots. This can be used for cooking in or eating out of. Before cooking it should be oiled, inside and out. Pottery making is quite neat, I hope to do more in the future.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

More Alphabet Adventures.

My last post on our alphabet adventures got very long and I didn't get everything written that we are planning to do.
Another thing we have planned is before lunch I will put an alphabet sticker (the letter of the day) on the bottom of one of the my children's plate and they will get to pick the book we read for naps.
We are also planning on reading and discussing a verse for each day that begins with that letter. Here is a link to one list of ABC memory verses and here is another.
We have been enjoying playing and alphabet matching memory game that Aaron got for his birthday and we plan on doing that more during that time.
Another idea that I had was to have the kids (mainly Jonathan) go around the house and find objects that start with the sound that we are focusing on.
I think all of this should keep us pretty busy.

Monday, October 29, 2007

We were over at my parents house on Friday for supper and I enjoyed these additions to the table. It just really reminded me of all the beauty that God has created. I love flowers and really enjoy vases of them around (and actually they did have a couple of vases of Johny-jump-ups too) but I really enjoyed seeing the beauty of other things that are not usually showcased as beautiful. The onions in the mug were actually to eat too but I thought the green stems in the blue mug was quite striking (it looked even neater in real life.) The swiss chard was some that Dad had grown and he wanted to enjoy the beauty of it and so brought it in and stuck it in a clear vase.
I was brousing other blogs lately and came across a neat post at Cheap, Healthy, Good. about was to use apples. She had two neat pictures of apples in vases . I especially liked the one of just green apples in a tall clear vase.
All of these things really make me want to do some experimenting with displaying odd bits of nature. God gave us beauty and uniqueness everywhere. It is just up to us to enjoy it!

"Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation of shifting shadow." James 1:17

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Alphabet Adventures

A couple of weeks ago we were having leftovers for lunch and I noticed that we were having chili, cheese and chips, all of them starting with ch. So I decided that we had better have chocolate milk as well and we had some chunks of apple. During the meal we had fun thinking about the "ch" sound and tried to find names for all of us that started with Ch. The boys were Chuck and Charlie but we had a little trouble with we girls because all of the Ch girl names that we could think of made the Sh sound. Anyway we had such fun with our little phonics lesson that I decided we should do all of the letters and so we have decided to have a different letter each day of the month in November. We also are planning on throwing in the letter combinations of Ph, Ch, Sh and Th. (Except for the Th we couldn't think of anything to eat except Thousand Island dressing which only Ken likes and then I remembered that Thanksgiving Day is this month so that is going to be our Th day.) We have planned a supper Menu and often a breakfast menu for each letter and we have also planned colors or types of ways to dress to go with each letter as well as ways to act and special things to do to celebrate each letter. This is a good activity for our family right now as Jonathan is learning to read and Aaron is learning his letters.

I thought I would share our plans with you, so here they are: (I would love to know if anybody else decides to join us in our adventure!)


How to dress: In apricot, azure, amber or aqua colors.

How to act: Adorable and with Agape love

Breakfast: Applesauce

Supper: Au Gratin Potatoes with Ham*, Aylmer Bread*, Apple Juice and Alfalfa sprouts on salad.

What to do: Find things to Admire and Appreciate. (remember to tell God "Thank You!)


How to dress: In black and blue colors. Beautifully!

How to act: Be bright!

Breakfast:Banana Bread*

Supper: Beef Burgers on Buns, Beans, Beverage and Blackberry pie.

What to do: Blow up Balloons.


How to dress: In cream and cobalt blue.In costumes.

How to act: Carefully.

Breakfast: Crepes and cantaloupe.

Supper: Crab casserole , carrot and cabbage salad, cottage cheese, candy

What to do: Clean!!


How to dress: In Dark colors. Wear a dress.

How to act: Daring, delightful.

Breakfast: Doughnuts*

Supper: Dairy drink, doggies in a blanket*, dill pickles.

What to do: Dance!


How to dress: In Eggplant.

How to act: Entertainingly.

Breakfast: Eggs

Supper: Enchiladas*

What to do: Enjoy eating.


How to dress: In fuchsia and floral.

How to act: Forgiving, fun!

Breakfast: Fresh fruit, french toast*.

Supper: Fish fillets, fabulous fruit salad, french fries*.

What to do: Play Frisbee.


How to dress: In green, gray and gold.

How to act: Good.

Breakfast: Grapefruit and granola*.

Supper: Goulash*, garlic bread and green salad.

What to do: Play a game.


How to dress: In hunter green.

How to act: Helpful.

Breakfast: Hash browns*.

Supper: Ham and Hush puppies*.

What to do: Give lots of hugs.


How to dress: In indigo.

How to act: be Inspiring.

Breakfast: ?

Supper: Ice tea, Indian tacos, ice cream.

What to do: Make an Ice sculpture.


How to dress: In jewel tones and wear jewelry.Wear a jumper.

How to act: Joyful!

Breakfast: Jam on bread.

Supper: Juice, Jambalaya, Jello.

What to do: Tell jokes.


How to dress: In Khaki.

How to act: Kindly.

Breakfast: Kalaches*, Kiwi.

Supper: Kentucky fried chicken (okay I'm not sure we will actually buy this, I might make my oven fried chicken* and call it Kentucky fried- or does somebody else have a protein idea for K?), Kohlrabi or Kraut.

What to do: give Kisses.


How to dress: In lavender, lilac and lemon. Wear loose clothing.

How to act:Loving.

Breakfast: Lefse.

Supper: Lemonade, Lasagna, Lettuce salad and Lemon bars*.

What to do: Learn and love!


How to dress: In Maroon. Or wear a mustache!

How to act: Manly and/or meek and merciful.

Breakfast: Mint tea or milk and mush or muffins.

Supper: Milk, meatballs*, Mexican rice and marshmallows.

What to do: Make music.


How to dress: In navy, neon colors.

How to act: Nice.

Breakfast: Nut bread*.

Supper: Nice noodles Alfredo,

What to do: Notice noises.


How to dress: In orange and olive green.

How to act: Organized

Breakfast: Oatmeal, omelet* and orange juice.

Supper: Open faced sandwiches, olives and onion rings*.

What to do: Talk about opposites.


How to dress: In pink, purple, periwinkle and plaid. Wear pants.

How to act: Polite, peaceful and patient.

Breakfast: Puff pancakes* with peaches.

Supper: Punch, pizza* and pumpkin pie*.

What to do: Play by pretending.


How to dress: Wear quilted clothing(if you have any!) and wear your hair in a queue( a single braid down the back.)

How to act: Quick and quiet.

Breakfast: Quick oats

Supper: Quartered Quesidillas

What to do: Ask lots of queries/ questions.


How to dress: In red, raspberry or rust.

How to act: Respectfully.

Breakfast: Rise and shine cookies*.

Supper: Rice-a-roni*.

What to do: Run a race.


How to dress: In salmon, scarlet and stripes. Wear a scarf.

How to act:Silly, serious, sober and self-controlled.

Breakfast: Sausage, scrambled eggs and smoothies.

Supper: Spaghetti and salad.

What to do: Sing!


How to dress: In tan and teal. Wear a tie.

How to act: Be talkative.

Breakfast: Tea

Supper: Tomato juice and tuna turnovers*.

What to do: Take turns tossing a ball.


How to dress: In Umber (a dark dusty or reddish brown). Don't forget your underwear.

How to act: Unaffected and unpretentious.

Breakfast: ?

Supper: Unleavened bread (I am thinking tacos) and upside down cake.

What to do: Try playing the Ukulele.


How to dress: In violet. Or try Victorian clothes.

How to act: Be valiant.

Breakfast: Vitamins

Supper: Vegetarian pizza* and vegetables.

What to do: Try vaulting.


How to dress: In white and warm colors.

How to act: Be warmhearted.

Breakfast: Waffles

Supper: Water, wild rice hot dish*, whole wheat bread, and whipped cream fruit salad*.

What to do: Whisper while taking a walk.


How to dress: Something eXotic.

How to act: Be eXciting.

Breakfast: An eXtremely satisfying one.

Supper: EXcellent Potatoes, eXciting meatloaf and eXotic vegies.

What to do: Play the Xylophone.

(Okay sorry for the horrible cheating here but all I could find to eat was Xantham gum (something that is used as a thickener) and that XX stands for powdered sugar. )


How to dress: In yellow and clothing made from yarn.

How to act: Be yourself.

Breakfast: Yogurt and Yummy oatmeal breakfast bars*.

Supper: Yellow fin tuna patties, yeast bread and yellow corn.

What to do: Yawn, Yodel and use a Yo-yo.


How to dress: In Black and white stripes like a Zebra. In clothes with zippers.

How to act: Be zealous and zany.

Breakfast: Zucchini muffins.

Supper: Zesty ziti pasta* and zwieback.

What to do: Go to the zoo, for real, online or in a book.


How to act: Cheerful

Breakfast: Cheddar cheese and chai tea.

Supper: Chocolate milk, chicken, chapatis and chocolate chip cookies.

What to do: Play a game of chess, checkers or just chase each other.


Breakfast: Philadelphia cream cheese.

Supper: Philly sandwiches


How to dress: Wear shoes and shells necklaces.

How to act: Sheepishly

Supper: Shepherds pie.


How to act: Be thankful!

Dinner: Thanksgiving dinner!

What to do: Give thanks.

There is our plan. Some places I obviously had more trouble coming up with stuff. If you have any ideas to fill those places that are lacking please leave a comment to tell me what I should do.

The recipes with * are ones that I could post if anybody would like.

We are planning on doing this in one month but I also think you could just do one letter a week and have one day where you had meals to do along with it. If anybody else decides to do this I hope you have a lot of fun (and please let me know!). I will try to keep you posted on how it all goes.

Here are some links to other posts about our Alphabet Adventures:

Friday, October 26, 2007


One way that I have found that you can save money is by bartering. Instead of giving somebody money for something you can give them something you own or make or provide them a service. Accepting bartering can also be good for you because you don't have to pay taxes(I don't think!) on bartering.
Mostly what I have done so far is offer goods or service in exchange for music lessons. For one teacher I sewed rags together for her to weave into rugs. For another teacher I baked, made soup, made her a doll and aprons,etc. It is fun to be able to use something you already have to get something you want.
My dad is good at bartering. He has traded things like Goats and dogs and received things like lawnmowers, guns and more.
I am curious to know what sort of bartering you have done. Please share a comment. I am thinking I would like to try doing this more.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A bear birthday

Today is Aaron's 4th birthday. We have been into theme birthdays lately here so he decided that he wanted a bear birthday. For Birthdays at our house one of the benefits is that you get to chose the meals. For supper he had requested pizza, grapes and a bear cake. I decided it might be fun to make bear pizza's as well, so with Aaron's help we made one for each of us with the size of bears varying in accordance with the size of people. We decided that we would put the toppings just on the tummy and the other body parts we would dip in tomato sauce. We decided to use olives for eyes which made them a little owl like but still you could see that they were bears.
Here is the bear cake, not to fancy but Aaron liked it.
Mara brought out teddy bears ( and dolls) to help decorate.
For drinks I used some old honey bottles (I had bought a bunch last year when they went on an excellent sale.) and we put chocolate milk in them so that they would look like brown bears.
We had a great time at our bear birthday party. I am so convinced that it doesn't take a huge expensive party for a child to have a wonderful birthday!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Cutting down cooking time

To be honest cooking is not my favorite past time but as I am committed to having home cooked meals 3 times a day, I get to do quite a bit of it. One thing that I do that helps me to spend less time in the Kitchen is to make double what we need and then freeze the rest for later. Tonight I made Tuna Noodle Casserole (Not that exciting looking, but one of our family's favorites). I made enough to freeze one dish full and then we ate the other. The amount of time I spent was only about 2 minutes more to make double. It is very nice to have frozen meals whenever we have a very busy day or perhaps I don't feel well. It saves us a lot of money because times that we might be tempted to go out to eat, we can just use one of these meals instead. Obviously not everything freezes well so I don't do this everyday but I try to do it fairly often. Here are some of the dishes that have worked well for me to freeze: Lasagna (I freeze it before it is baked), Tuna Noodle casserole (This I also freeze before baking), Enchiladas, Homemade Pizza (When I do this I pre-bake the crust about 10 minutes and then put the toppings on and then I will bake it the rest of the way before we eat it. I usually make 3 of these at a time), Meatloaf, Chili , soups and Chicken Rice Burritos (Pictured below).
Do you ever freeze meals? What are your favorite ways to save time in the kitchen?
Another similar thing that I do is to brown a lot of hamburger at once and then freeze in containers.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Odds and ends and HOMEADE ICECREAM!

Getting up this morning while it was still dark (not that early mind you but it was dark), reminded me of Proverbs 31:15 which says "She rises while it is still night and gives food to her household and portions to her maidens." I think I have a lot of work to do in that area. Lately I have really struggled to get out of bed. Once I am up I am a pretty good morning person, awake, alert and cheerful, but getting out of bed is the really hard part. I am trying to work on it though as I like to have my quiet time with God in the morning and if I get up late than it is cut short or I have the disturbance of lots of little people. This morning God blessed us with a beautiful sun rise. It is worth getting up when it is dark in order to see the sunrise! (I wish I knew how to take better pictures of them however.)

Our day went quite well. The house was already fairly clean from heavy cleaning yesterday which was nice. I love working in a clean house. The kids got done with their schoolwork before lunch. I was able to make some needed phone calls and work on odds and ends of projects that needed done like putting up this little hook below and a frog one that goes with it. They hang above my sink and we had put them up earlier with screws but they got pulled out of the wood. So now I decided to put them up with Gorilla glue. I think it will work well.

This afternoon I started teaching a new student piano. That was fun, I believe she will catch on very well which is always nice. I also taught one of my violin students. I also found the time to play both violin and piano myself, which is always fun.

This evening I helped Jonathan work on a present for Aaron's birthday and we also wrapped most of Aaron's presents. I feel very ahead of schedule on that as I usually do it the night before and we are 2 nights before!

I cut all my Men's hair this evening. Aaron actually sat for it happily tonight which was very nice. He has tended to be rather scared of haircuts and likes to go and hide.

The very yummy thing we enjoyed this evening was Homemade icecream. I am not sure that I have had it since I was a kid and it was very GOOD! We don't have an icecream maker but Mom had loaned us theirs since we are getting a lot of cream. It was very simple to make the icecream. I heated up 1 cup of milk in the microwave and dissolved 3/4 cup sugar in it and then mixed that with another cup of milk, 1 1/4 cups cream and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and let it cool in the fridge a couple of hours and then stuck it in the icecream maker, turned it on for 20 minutes and we were all done. I enjoyed mine with bananas and pecans.

Mara was wanting to try to make hers in layers like there are layers in the earth so she had a crumbled graham cracker, nuts, banana slices, chocolate sauce, icecream and sprinkles. Jonathan made a similar bowl full.
I am curious, does anybody know of a good recipe for icecream that doesn't require a icecream maker? I plan on returning mom's to her before long and I don't have the room to get one but I would still like to make icecream. Any comments would be appreciated!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Psalm 15

I recently "discovered" Psalm 15. One thing that is so cool about the Bible is that no matter how many times you have read it, though you have gone to Bible college and been in countless Bible studies, there is still something new to learn and gain insight from every time you open the BOOK! I love God's word!
"O Lord, who may abide in your tent?
Who may dwell on Your holy hill?
He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness,
And speaks truth in his heart.
He does not slander with his tongue,
Nor does evil to his neighbor,
Nor takes up a reproach against his friend;
In whose eyes a reprobate is despised,
But who honors those who fear the Lord;
He swears to his own hurt and does not change;
He does not put out his money at interest,
Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things will never be shaken."
There are so many examples in that passage of how we should be. I think I want to memorize that with my kids so that it can always remind of us of who to live. (We are memorizing Romans 12 right now though so we will have to do it next.) I hope you also will be encouraged by this chapter from God's word!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Pumpkin Pie Cake

Amy over at the Eckert Escapades had a neat post about all the ways she had used pumpkin. It sounded very yummy and made me think of this recipe and so I thought I would share it.

Mix together:
3 1/2 cups (a 29 oz. can) a cooked pumpkin (or winter squash)
1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk or 1 1/2 cups milk
3 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup sugar

Pour into a greased 9 x 13 pan.

Top with mixture of these ingredients:
2 cup flour
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
(or you can use a white cake mix just as it is)

Over the top of all pour 1 cup (or less) melted butter.
Sprinkle with nuts.
Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes.
Now I feel like doing some baking!

Making Cheese

We had extra milk today so I decided to make some cheese. My mom had given me this recipe for Ricotta Cheese some time ago, I have made it quite a few times and it is quite easy.

You take your raw milk (however much you want, I usually do around 2 quarts). Heat it to around 200 degrees (this is almost boiling, past the scum on the top stage- when you see it rolling a little under the scum). At this point add around 1/4 cup vinegar and stir.
It will separate into curds and whey. Strain out the curds.
I use a colander with a dish dish towel in it (shown over a bucket to catch the whey). You can either let all the whey out (let it drain a while) to make a rather solid cheese or leave a little whey in to make a runnier mixture. Then you can add a little butter and 1/2 teaspoon soda to the curds and stir it well. I also like to add some salt and maybe some garlic for flavor. There you go, you are all done! This cheese can be used in Lasagna or we enjoy eating it on crackers. My mom also make some really yummy crackers that have this cheese in them.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Fabric dyeing

I mentioned that at my Colonial time class we dyed some fabric. We had a lot of fun doing it and it is something that I hope to do again. It is really quite easy and cheap and you can get some very pretty colors. I think it would be fun to make a quilt with hand dyed fabrics.
We used natural ingredients, onion peel, juneberries, raspberries and turmeric. We also tried purple cabbage leaves and carrot peels without much success. To make the dye we just put the berries or whatever in a bowl, added boiling water and let it sit until the water had changed color nicely. I then added a little cream of tarter (I guess the alum in it will work as a mordant- it makes the color stay in) and stirred it up. Then I put in the fabric to soak. I let some soak overnight and then some we just left in a few minutes and that worked as well. I wrung them out and then let them dry. They do seem to be color fast. I used all cotton fabric (it was some dress shirts that had gotten a stain on them.). There are many more natural dyes you can make, I have used tea before as well as tannin from acorns. I read that you can use Goldenrod and Marigolds and I was hoping to get some but they were all dead so I guess I will try next year.
Here are some links that tell more about making natural dyes:
~Pioneer thinking This one has I think the most complete list of plants and stuff you can use.
I am very much a beginner at this but enjoyed it. Have any of you ever done any dyeing?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Free homeschool e-books

If you are a homeschool parent you can get two free homeschool e-books by completing a survey here. One is "Homeschool Dialouges", interviews with many well known homeschoolers or experts and the other is "20 homemade games for learning" I enjoyed reading some in that one and it looks like there are a lot of games that I would like to try with my kids.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day

I noticed that today is Blog Action Day where we are requested to write concerning the environment. I had just written about some of the things I am doing to try to improve my little area but as that is an area I have been thinking a lot about lately I will share some of my other thoughts on that issue.
Have you ever read the book "Miss Rumphius" by Barbara Cooney? This is a children's book that has been one of me and my children's favorites to get at the library. It is well written and has beautiful pictures. In the book Miss Rumphius, Alice loves visiting her Grandfather and listening to his stories of traveling to far places and says that when she grows older she to wants to travel to far places and then come and live in a house by the sea. Her Grandfather tells her that what she is planning is well and good but she also needs to do something to make the world more beautiful. Well she does travel and then does get a house by the sea but cannot figure out what to do to make the world more beautiful and then almost by accident she starts spreading Lupine seeds and flowers grow. She starts walking everywhere and planting them in ditches and all over and becomes known as the Lupine Lady and that is how she makes the world more beautiful.
We have been inspired by this book and I encourage others to read it so that they will be as well. God gave us a very beautiful world but many times people are a little thoughtless and throw out trash and don't bother to beautiful the area they are in. We can be different though. One thing we have been doing is planting perennial flowers, bushes and trees. We can also pick up trash (this summer my sister Anna organized most of the kids in her neighborhood to pick up trash, they had a good time and did a good job- she said they even went up into people's yards :-) , I am hoping to do that soon on our street. Whatever it is you choose to do I think that is a good goal to have, "Do something to make the world more beautiful". Maybe you can leave it nicer than you found it!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Raising future Mothers

One of a favorite thing I have in raising little girls is watching them take care of their baby dolls. Megan is very much in that stage now, she takes baby Bobbi Mae with her many places and hugs and loves her a lot. On Friday night we had friends over who also have a 1 year old daughter and it was fun to see the two of them both hugging babies and carrying them around. Tonight at church I enjoyed watching Megan and a 2 year old friend loving their babies together. God very obviously placed a mother's love in their little hearts. It reminds me how much they are watching me to see how it is to be done. I pray that I can be a good example and that like it says in Titus 2:4, that I can encourage them to love their husbands and to love their children if God should bless them with both of them.

Saving money on car insurance

This afternoon I took an online defensive driving course. My husband had arranged it because if both of us took it (and got 80% or more right) then we could save 10% off of of our car insurance for the next 3 years. The class did cost $40 for both of us and around 2 hours each but we will save around $70 each year. That is a net savings of $170 dollars for a little time. The class was good to take anyway, though I have never been a driver in an accident, never gotten a ticket and only been pulled over once (in Reno, Nevada) I still think it was good to be reminded of how to drive even more safely. We have our insurance with MetLife and that is the only company that my husband knows (he is an insurance agent) of that has the Online course but there may be others. We do know that often Senior centers will offer courses like that and those also will help to lower your rates. I would advice asking your insurance agent if there is anything like that you can do to lower your rates.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Taking Care of God's Earth

"The Earth is the Lord's, and all it contains, The world, and those who dwell in it." Ps. 24:1

We live in a place that is not ours, it belongs to God. When we use something that is somebody else's usually we work hard to take extra good care of it. I am not sure that has always been the case with the things God has given us however. Sometimes we tend to take Him and His gifts for granted. I have been thinking about this more lately and I am trying to make my lifestyle more aware of keeping the earth that God is letting me live in clean and nice. I am writing this post to encourage you to also work towards wasting less and reducing the amount of trash that you throw in the landfill. I am sure many of you are already doing far better than I, and so maybe you can give me hints in improving my lifestyle. One thing I did want to mention though before I tell you what I have been doing is, though I think it is very good to become aware of what is going on environmentally and work towards improvement we don't ever want to become like the people mentioned in Romans 1:25 "For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen." We don't ever want to take our focus off of God.

One of the things that really bothers me environmentally is all the waste in our culture. We have so much stuff that is made to be used once and then thrown away. We also live in a society that just likes to buy, has to much stuff and throws perfectly good stuff in the landfill. I am really working at not doing that at our house. Here is some of what I do:

  • We recycle our newspapers, cans, bottles, magazines, boxes and paper. I have done that for a while but recently we got more organized and we are trying to do even more. I am trying to make sure that every piece of throw away paper gets recycled and that every bottle gets rinsed out and recycled rather than ever thrown away. However I know that recycling takes a lot of energy and also I don't get anything out of it personally so I try to self recycle a lot of stuff instead of throwing it in a bin.

  • I wash and re-use bags. I know this seems small but each bag I re-use is one less in the landfill and also I don't have to buy bags and use up resources that way. I do have a box of zip lock bags on hand but I bought it a few years ago and there is still plenty left. I wash bread bags, cheese bags, and zip lock bags. Growing up we also washed out sugar bags and veggie bags.

  • We use cloth napkins. (Mostly anyway, Ken isn't sure that he likes them so we do keep the others on hand). Most of our napkins are homemade (other wise they were given to me) made out of remnants or old curtains. I really like cloth napkins which are much sturdier than the paper and they save you money too.

  • We use cloth rags instead of paper towel. I do usually have paper towel on hand for draining bacon and stuff like that but we use them very rarely. Rags are made out of old clothes (absorbent t-shirts or flannel shirts) or old cotton socks. Sock rags are wonderful for dusting and little cleaning jobs. I cut them up the side and on the end (as pictured below) so that they open up flat.

  • We are switching to florescent light bulbs. I think most of our home is now florescent, as they burn out we are changing them. This costs more at first but is supposed to save a lot of money in the long run. It also saves time as you don't have to change them as often and then reduces the amount of stuff going to the landfill.

  • I compost all the organic material from my kitchen. This is so great for building up the soil in your garden too. I was so impressed this year at how fast it turned into good dirt. You might notice that I used old pallets for the compost bin and that I am reusing carpet in the garden to keep weeds down.

  • For starting plants for my garden , I used milk jugs with their tops cut off and drain holes put in to plant the seeds in.

  • We re-use containers. I have found that peanut butter jars work very well for freezing food in. You don't have to worry about it getting bumped open in the freezer. The others containers work well too. There is absolutely no need to buy bunches of containers when you can get so many for free. Also containers are easier to re-use then bags.

  • We recycle lots of paper, magazines and cardboard by making cards and envelopes, kids crafts (my kids love to create and so I try to keep scrap paper, boxes, toilet paper tubes and magazines on hand for all their work), and drawing and just writing of notes and lists.

  • I also enjoy using recycled material for gift wrapping.

  • This is one of my more recent attempts at producing less waste. This is a Diva cup and it is used for your menstrual cycle. It is reusable and should last for years. I am impressed with it. This is also a great money saver as I paid $25 for it (including shipping) and it should last for at least 10 years during which time I should have to buy very little else. Crunchy Chicken is the blog where I learned about this and she has a lot more information. Here is a place you can buy one.

  • Handkerchiefs are something we are trying to use more here. Ken has used them often but the kids and I hadn't much but lately we are trying. The kids think handkerchiefs are very fun so that is nice.

  • I decided to include this picture as stuff like this is an important part of my recycling. For her birthday Mara really wanted butterfly or fairy wings. I used some old curtains (along with wire and a little fabric) to make some for her. I did much the same thing for all our costumes for the colonial class, using stuff that others had rejected to make something that worked for us.

  • Old clothing is something that it seems like many people throw away, it is also one of my favorite things to recycle. I like to make bags like the one pictured above, I also enjoy making quilts, making "new" clothes, making rugs and cutting t-shirts into strips and knitting or crocheting them.

There I have shared with you some of the stuff I do. There are other things I am working on and dreams that I have but I will have to share them with you another time as it is getting quite late. As always I am always open to your thoughts and ideas too!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Every Day a Holiday!

I have been enjoying a book that I checked out at the library called "Every Day a Holiday ~ Celebrations for the Whole Year! by Silvana Clark. Did you know that today is World Farmer's Day? Did you know that this week is Fire Prevention Week? Did you know that this month is Popcorn Popping Month? As well as Family History Awareness Month, National Pasta Month, National Apple Month and Eat Better/ Eat Together Month. Just think of all the ways you can celebrate. This book tells of Holidays nearly every day of the year and not just that but gives you fun ideas for food, crafts and activities to celebrate with. Her ideas are not usually very hard and pretty much use things that you would already have or can get quite cheaply. She includes some bible stuff and everything that I read about was quite family friendly. This is a very fun book and one I am thinking might be worth buying. I recommend it!

75 tips for living frugally.

I found an article at Mother Earth Living website that has 75 tips for living frugally. He shares how you can live on less and love it. He has some very good ideas which are enviromentally friendly as well.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Colonial class

This morning was our colonial times cooking and clothing class. We had a fun time and I wanted to share some pictures from it.

We cooked Pottage (chicken, barley and black bean stew) and Indian cornbread (which burnt) over the fire. The kids helped to gather firewood and get the fire going nicely. The also shook up cream to make butter and used the mortar and pestle to grind up the spices for our pottage. I learned about the challenges of wearing long skirts and working over a fire. I guess that was quite a danger in colonial times.

Here are Megan and Jonathan working on the Indian cornbread.

I sewed or re-made most of the clothes we wore today. That has kept me busy this week but has been fun. Aaron's outfit was probably my favorite. I used an old short linen pair of pants of his and turned them into knickers. The Waistcoat (vest) I made from some red wool that had been given to me that was already cut out for a little girls coat. I eliminated several pieces and made it into a waistcoat for him. He wore some long socks of mine which we tied up with garters. The shoes, shirt and hat we already had. Jonathan was dressed similarly, I had to use scraps of wool to make his vest as I didn't have any big pieces left. He liked it though and decided the front was kind of like an airplane.

Here is Mara in her cloak that I quickly put together last night after church. It was warm and cozy and she liked it a lot.

Here is Mara in the dress that we re-made from an old dress that was in my quilt box. The apron was one I made for our class last year. Her cap is what they call a "coif".

Here is my great helper, my younger sister Keren. She helped to watch over kids and cook and anything that was needed. She put together her own outfit. This picture also shows our empty stew pot. We all ate together and licked the platter clean.

This picture show the pocket that Keren made for herself (she and I also made one for me but I ran out of time and didn't get much embroidery done on it.) In colonial times pockets in clothes had not been invented yet but women wore these tied around their waist. Sometimes they had two.

Here is a spindle and some wool. We worked at spinning yarn a little during the class. We also dyed some fabric using natural dye but I think I will talk about that in another post.

Well I hope you enjoyed our colonial days class. It would have been more fun if you could have been here but I guess this will have to do! :-) In my opinion pretending to live in other time periods is the best way to learn history. We have also been reading heavily about that time period these last few weeks. If you don't feel like going to all this bother at home ( your kids would love it if you would though) I would recommend going to living history museums or a Rendevous. Those are great places to learn history.


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