Friday, February 29, 2008


Something I enjoy quite a bit is a bowl of homemade granola. Granola is quite simple to make and is quite a bit cheaper and better for you than cereal. You can make granola many, many different ways and mine is probably different every time but I appreciate having a general guideline and I will share with you what I use.
  • 10 cups oatmeal
  • 2 cups coconut
  • 1 cup or more of nuts (sliced walnuts or chopped walnuts or pecans are all quite yummy)
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup peanut butter (this isn't essential but I really like it)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

You could also add wheat germ, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds or coarsely ground whole grain flours. Raisins or other dried fruit are also a wonderful addition after you have toasted the granola.

To make it mix all of the dry ingredients together. Then warm up the peanut butter and mix it with the other wet ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ones and mix. Spread out on large pans and toast in the over at 275 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown. Stir occasionally during the toasting. Store in an airtight container. Enjoy!

For more frugal tips visit Crystal's Frugal Friday at Biblical Womanhood.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Some things I have seen around here lately.

I was going through my pictures and I found some that I thought would be fun to share. A side note, I am so thankful for a digital camera. I can take, and take, and take pictures and never worry about wasting film.
The picture on the side is Mara-girl at the Library. We are very thankful for our library. We all love books and it is so nice to have so many available at no cost!
When we got home from the library Mara perched on one arm of the couch to read her book, Megan wanted to be like her big sister so she grabbed a book and perched on the other end. She wasn't as absorbed in her book so she smiled for me when she saw taking a picture.
This is something Megan enjoys doing, coming up behind me and grabbing my legs and then squatting down. It is kind of hard to move around when you have someone attached to you like that!
This was the lovely play of "Little Red Riding Hood" that I got to watch not to long ago. My niece Margaret is the Little Red Riding Hood, my Mom is her Grandma, Aaron is the Woodcutter who bravely drove away the Big Bad Wolf (Mara) with a flyswatter. It was a quite entertaining show. Oh and Keren was the Mother.
Here is my working boy learning how to scoop out a squash. He is such a good helper!
And my violin, I think violins are such beautiful instruments, even my battered up one.
Here is the hairstyle that is "in" at our house. So if you come to visit you might want to try it out!
One of the trees that was so pretty after a snowfall.
The lover of socks at our house. Megan has a major fetish for socks. Until I changed her dresser (where she can't get the drawers open) she loved to get in her sock drawer and start layering the socks on. Sometimes I would find her with 7 or so socks on one foot. One foot I think was easier to put socks on than the other so often she would have many socks on one foot and none on the other. Her favorite way to help with folding clothes is to put all of the socks on.
A sleeping girl. This was after the long ride home from getting milk. In my opinion there is nothing quite so sweet as a sleeping baby.

Learning about Maryland and South Carolina

Last week we had a very fun time learning about the state of Maryland. It was the 7th state to enter the union, becoming a state on April 28, 1788. As with all the others that we have studied we would also like to visit this state. Each state that we learn about has so many neat things to offer in natural beauty, fun things to do, neat things to experience and historical places to see. A blog reader, Michelle, from Maryland offered to tell us about her state and sent me a wonderful e-mail full of information and links. I am including most of it here. Thank you so much Michelle!!

Here’s a great link with lots of statistics.

If you’ve seen the movie National Treasure 2, you’ll hear reference to Charles Carroll, a famous Marylander who signed the Declaration of Independence. Also, don’t forget Babe Ruth and Edgar Allen Poe is buried in Baltimore (you can read about Poe’s grave and it’s mysterious yearly visitor

Maryland is big in history ~ if you visited our state (nicknamed “The Old Line State”) you’d want to make sure to go to
Baltimore’s Inner Harbor where you can visit the Maryland Science Center (great IMAX theater) and the Baltimore Aquarium. Baltimore is home to national sports teams the Baltimore Orioles and Baltimore Ravens (we’re not big sports fans here at my home though!). You can also visit Fort McHenry, which is where the famous battle took place the night Francis Scott Key wrote the “Star Spangled Banner”. While in Baltimore, if you’re not dining on steamed crabs (they’re not in season now anyway!), you might want to try a Polock Johnny’s Polish Sausage or an Ostrowski’s Polish Sausage . We also like our sauerkraut ~ I think that probably comes from our close proximity to Pennsylvania! Sauerkraut is a must at our Thanksgiving table!

Moving along to Maryland’s capital city, Annapolis, you’ll find it is steeped in history too. I live about 10 minutes outside Annapolis. If you are looking at a map of our state, I am actually between Annapolis and the Chesapeake Bay (a tributary that goes from the Atlantic right into Baltimore’s ports). Annapolis is termed the sailing capital of the world (I think locals enjoy saying that!). The Underground Railroad ran through here. Annapolis is also home to the
United State Naval Academy (I noticed that John McCain is a graduate from there ~ Abbi). We regularly see midshipmen walking around downtown Annapolis or at the mall (weekends only!) and we have quite a few that attend our church. It is nice to see these young men and women, many of whom are far from home, joining us. Our Girl Scout troop is attending an engineering event at the Academy next month and we’re very excited. In May, during Navy commissioning (graduation) week, we usually enjoy air shows by the Blue Angels. We’re lucky…..they fly right over top of our house! It is a sight to behold….

Here’s a
link to our local newspaper. This will give you some idea of the goings on in our neighborhoods (crime in Annapolis is, I’d guess, like any other city although not as high as would be in Baltimore or Washington DC).

Maryland’s Eastern Shore is host to our beaches and what I like to call our “flat land”… mountains on that side but lots of sand! Again, if you look at the map of Maryland, the Eastern Shore is considered the “handle” part, or right side, of the state. Seafood abounds here. Crabs, oysters and rockfish are staples. During the summer, anglers from all over the world flock to Ocean City to participate in the White Marlin Open (my husband did this for a few years….before our children came along!...although his team never caught “the big one”!). Here’s a
link to Ocean City’s tourism site. My family likes to camp and we try to get to Ocean City at least once a year, often we go more than that! If your children like horses, I’d recommend the Misty of Chincoteague series by Marguerite Henry . These books are about the wild horses of Assateague Island. You can visit Assateague Island and see wild ponies grazing on the grasslands….it’s quite amazing and something we look forward to every summer. One nice thing about Ocean City and our coast is that you can travel right up the coast and be in Delaware in no time flat! Vegetable stands abound in the summer and we can feast on corn on the cob, green beans and tomatoes all summer long! The eastern shore is also home to many, many chicken farms. Perdue Chicken being probably the most well known.

We have beaches but we have mountains too! Maryland is home to some great trails (the Appalachian Trail meanders through our state) and lots of state parks, many of them in our western counties. Our western counties are home to many craft and apple festivals in the fall, complete with apple pies and apple dumplings! We do a lot of camping in the western part of our state (we’re partial to the mountains!). October is a great month to get out and enjoy our fall colors.

Let’s see, weather wise, it is hazy, hot and humid in the summer (August is the worst, where temps can rise to the 100’s), crisp and cool in the fall, pollen filled in the spring and…well, I’d like to say snowy in the winter but it was 56 degrees yesterday! Our winters are generally calm and we usually expect one or two snowstorms a year but we’ve not had any snow to speak of this winter. My children have not missed any school so far this winter which means they will get out of school on June 13th. As of right now (4pm), it is 47 degrees.

Products produced in Maryland ~ well, many years ago (probably about 50), tobacco was a huge crop here. The changing world view on smoking pretty much eradicated that and tobacco farmers are few and far between now. One of the most widely known companies is
McCormick Spice. You probably have some of their spices in your cabinet or have seen them on store shelves. My absolute favorite McCormick spice is Old Bay seafood seasoning. We use it on our steamed crabs, steamed oysters, in our crab soup (cream of crab and vegetable) and it’s even good on oven roasted potatoes. If you don’t like spices with a bit of a kick, this might not be for you! Food wise, we enjoy steamed crabs and fresh white corn on the cob in the summer. In the winter, stew, fried and, our favorite, steamed.

There are several military installations here (Ft. Meade where I grew up…my parent’s were native Marylander’s even though my dad was military…., Ft. Detrick, Andrews Air Force Base and a Naval Station Annapolis). Camp David, which is the Presidential getaway is also located in our western hills.

We are also only about 20 miles from Washington, DC….an historical treasure trove in itself and unfortunately we don’t get there very often!

  • We had fun trying a variety of foods from Maryland. I had decided we would have oysters and so Ken picked up some canned ones that I made into stew. We have had that before so it wasn't to strange for our tastes and we enjoyed it. Though Maryland has a lot of seafood I hadn't planned on getting any other because I am trying to watch our grocery budget and seafood isn't real cheap around here, however when we were at the grocery store I happened to notice a package of 6 clams in the reduced meats. Mara was quite charmed with their shells imagining all the crafts we could make from them and really wanted to get them. I happen to feel a little out of my league dealing with seafood as I have no idea how to prepare it but for the sake of education we decided to get them.

  • I was thinking about quickly e-mailing Michelle for some advice but then I happened to check in a really cool cookbook that my mom gave me and it had very good instructions for how you steam them to get them open, etc and then had a recipe for fried clam. The pictures looked really appetizing and I decided to try it. It is so cool how they open all by themselves and then the meat came out much easier than I expected. I fried them up and we were ready for some classy appetizers. None of us had ever had clams before except cut up tiny in clam chowder and so were not quite prepared for what we experienced. We couldn't bit through them. So we cut them up small with our knife and some members of our family attempted to chew them a little and then just swallowed them and others couldn't handle the swallowing. Megan was the only one who asked for 2nds. I am sure she was just swallowing them!! Anyway it was a supper to remember! (By the way for anybody that knows about clams, are they always so chewy or did I do something really wrong? Or were they to old?)

  • Some other foods we had were: Polish sausages (pretty normal and enjoyed by all), Maryland Spoonbread (I thought this was pretty good and my men all ate it well but Mara had a hard time getting it down), Maryland Black Pepper cookies (Yummy!), Maryland Cream Waffles (we didn't really see the difference between them and normal waffles but we always like waffles), Tuna Maryland Style (We liked this), Clam chowder (from the leftover fried clams that weren't eaten and the water they were boiled in) and Maryland Apple Fritters. We really enjoyed the apple fritters. They were quite quick and easy to make, better for you than homemade doughnuts and my family all thought that they tasted better and were less messy. As with pretty much every recipe I make I used part wholewheat flour.

  • We had fun reading about history in Maryland. We read Biographies of Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman and Francis Scott Key. We also had fun singing the "Star Spangled Banner". I found reading about the civil war to be very interesting because although Maryland was a slave state (they were big in tobacco growing) , they also were a northern state. Most of Maryland is below the Mason-Dixon line but they sided with the North. However over 20,000 men went and fought for the South. I can only imagine all the heartache that there was in that state at that time.

Well this is getting to be a very long post and I need to get busy with other things but I did want to share some of the neat things we learned about Maryland! If you have other info to share we would still be interested in hearing. We are now studying South Carolina and would be interested in hearing from anybody that lives in that state. Next week we will be going to New Hampshire.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Works for me Wednesday ~Learning Geography

We have been enjoying learning a lot about the USA for the last month or so and are studying a state a week. We have been doing a lot of things to help us learn like reading, eating foods from the state and playing games but one thing that has probably helped us the most in the learning of Geography has been putting a map on our dining room table.
We leave it on during meals and pretty much all the time. It is laminated so we can wipe it off. While eating we often end up talking about it, noticing new facts and talking about who lives where, what places we have been to, where we were born (Everybody in our family was born in a different state except for the youngest 2.) and all sorts of odds and ends. It has worked incredibly well for learning. Aaron (our 4 year old) can now point out exactly where we live in MN, point out Nevada where Grandad and Nana live and name several other states. The older two can of course to that as well as know quite a lot more. They love to find roads and follow them with their fingers pretending they are traveling. Or sometimes they go on the railroad. They also love finding all the national parks and try to find the biggest. Looking for mountains is also fun.
Jonathan who is learning to read has enjoyed trying out his skill on the map, sounding out the names of states and rivers so that he knows what he is looking at.
Ken who is not really into eclectic learning has really enjoyed this to. The other day after being impressed by all the kids have learned told me "This was a really great idea". This definitely works for me. (By the way, it isn't only the kids that are learning, Ken and I have learned a lot too!)
For more tips and ideas check out Works for Me Wednesday at Rocks in my Dryer.

Tipster Tuesday (What to do with an oil fire and some coupons)

I was invited to join in with Tipster Tuesday over at becentsible. If you have any tips to share (for saving money, time or whatever) I am sure they would love to have you join as well.

I was just going to share some places to get some good coupons that I have used lately when I found this video in an e-mail that had been sent to me. I found it to be a very good tip and thought I should share it with you as well. Fire is very serious business but it can happen to any of us, knowing how to deal with it is always a good idea.

I will also share some coupon links with you, they are:

  • a coupon for free Flat Earth Crisps. These are pretty good and I think are supposed to be more healthy than regular chips. We have gotten this coupon twice. They only let you print out one but when I went back a week or so later I was able to print out another.
  • a coupon for a free 6 pack of Yoplait Kids yogurt or yogurt drink. This coupon is mailed to you and only one is allowed per household. We got ours and enjoyed them earlier this week.
  • a coupon for $2 off Honey Bunches of Oats with Chocolate Clusters. I had hoped to be able to get the cereal free when Honey Bunches of Oats went on sale for $2 at Walgreens but they don't have the ones with chocolate clusters. Walmart did however and their price was just $2.24 so we only paid 24 cents a box. It has been a fun treat as we don't normally buy that sort of thing. They let you print out two at a time and then after a few weeks I was able to print out a couple more coupons.

Have you found any great coupons online lately?

Monday, February 25, 2008

A snowman family

Yesterday it was so beautiful out, we just had to do something outside. So after naps and before evening church we made a snowman family. We had a lot of fun and got some good exercise. I hope you had a wonderful day as well!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

You are invited!

We are very excited about the Bemidji Winter Retreat coming up next month. This is an annual rally our church holds which is a lot of fun. We have been having it since I was a little kid and so it has been a big part of my growing up. The date this year is March 14-16 and you are all invited to come! Everybody is welcome!

The flyer was created by Emily and I copied it from her site to share with you. If you click on it you can see the details better.

Our speaker this year is Kevin Bibbee who preaches at the Church of Christ in Woodbury, MN. I have heard him before and found him to be a very good speaker. I am very much looking forward to hearing him speak on this year's theme.

The theme for the Retreat this year is "For all God has done". The idea came from the song "For all You've done" which was sung by Point of Grace. It is a really neat song and I wanted to share it with you. We just learned it last night at church. I was trying to figure out how you could hear it and decided I could video tape myself (or rather have Mara do it, she also joins in off and on) so if you want you can listen. I also found the words which are in a box on my side bar. Don't worry, I am not going to be singing it solo at the Retreat. I think I will be playing it on my violin.

At our Retreat we always have a lot of music of various styles. This year we are planning on doing contemporary praise music on Saturday morning. On Saturday afternoon the plan is to have some Acappella singing and then some more bluegrass style music as well as a time that visitors can share special music. On Sunday there will be more traditional hymns with just the piano. No matter what style we are doing we hope that all will give glory and praise to our great God!

We also have skits planned for every session that we hope you will enjoy and gain from.

Food is something else that we enjoy at our Retreat. All the ladies bring stuff and pitch in to make some very yummy meals. We have scalloped potatoes and ham for lunch on Saturday, Chili, Wild Rice soup and Chicken noodle soup for supper and then for lunch on Saturday we get Fried Chicken and Ice cream sundaes for dessert. One of my jobs is to bring rolls for which I will be using this recipe.

We also enjoy the various activities. Friday evening is a fun time of playing games with a point. Also we just try to get to know one another better and have fun together. (We also have to through in a little eating.) On Saturday afternoon there will be a recreation time and then Saturday evening I believe there will be the annual scavenger hunt for the high school and college age people.

And lastly one of my favorite parts getting to have company stay with us. A lot of good fellowship happens in the evenings and mornings when we get to have out of town guests at our house. The Retreat is completely free to come to and we try to provide lodging for anybody that wants it that is coming from out of town. If you have any questions fill free to e-mail me. (There is also a phone number on the poster).

Saturday, February 23, 2008

"How lovely on the mountians are the feet of him who bring good news, Who announces peace and brings good news of happiness, who announces salvation, And says to Zion, Your God reigns!" Isaiah 52:7
Do you have beautiful feet?


Last week we had great fun learning about the state of Massachusetts. It is a really neat state and we have found another place that we would like to visit. The biggest drawing card for me would be all the history that happened there. I would love to go see where early American history and colonial history happened. The Coast there also sounds very neat, we think going to the Cape Cod area would be lots of fun.
Venessa kindly shared some information about Mass. as that is where they live.

"We live in MA - we are not natives tho and I thought I would share some things that I found were different here... The roads, esp. in Boston are very windy - they were made from the old cow paths! Grinder or Hoagies are subs, Frappes are shakes. There is so much history here! It is fun to go to see and learn about the different things. This week we are going to walk the freedom trail in Boston. Another thing is there are not town squares or such a thing as downtown. There are town centers. The towns are very close together so you are never just out in the country. Also MA is know for cranberry bogging. We have not ever gotten to see that but it is very interesting. The ship that Katie mentioned (0ld Ironside from the war of 1812) is on the freedom trail - we have gotten to tour it a few times!"
Venessa mentioned about some of the different words they use there, in the book we were reading we found a few more:
  • Barrel: Trash can
  • Bubbler: Water fountain
  • Carriage: Shopping cart
  • Elastics: Rubber bands
  • the Hub: Boston
  • Spa: A small convenience store

Did you know that Bay Stater Harvey Ross Ball created the smiley face in the 1960's? We had to pull out our smiley face stickers and decorate with them.

Did you know that Dr. Seuss ( Theddor Seuss Geisel) was from Mass.? We enjoyed reading a bunch of Dr. Seuss books. You can see a video of Megan reading one below. Jonathan read "The Cat in the Hat" for his reading last week. To see a list of other famous people from MA go here. We also remembered that Mitt Romney is from there.

Did you know that Basketball is the official sport of Mass. ? It was invented by James Neismith a teacher from Springfield.

We enjoyed reading a book about the Pilgrims in Plymouth. We love early American history and are especially interested in the colonists this year since we had spent time studying about them for our home school co-op class last fall. I also found a site that talked about the food at the first Thanksgiving dinner. They had a recipe for Venison steak that I decided to try, it was very good!

I also figured that I should make Boston Baked Beans since they are such a well known item that comes from Massachusetts. Ken doesn't like dry beans and I don't like sweet beans but I decided we would make it anyway. I made it for Lunch when Ken was gone. I ate it without saying anything but the kids decided on there own that they are not found of sweet beans either. So we gave some away.

We also read that Massachusetts is the leader in Cranberry producing so I decided we should try some. I decided to put them in some Cranberry Apple muffins. It was a yummy recipe but my family decided that cranberries are a bit sour for their tastes. We ended up giving some of these away as well. If you like cranberries however you would probably like these muffins. I want to try the recipe again and substitute June berries (which grow around here so we have them for free) for the Cranberries. I thought I would share the recipe with you so here it is:

Apple Cranberry Muffins

1 1/4 cup flour (I used wholewheat)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. orange peel
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup orange juice
1 egg
4 Tbsp oil
1-2 dessert apples
1 1/2 cups cranberries
1/2 cups walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 12 muffins cups or use paper wrappers. Mix dry ingredients and then mix in the egg, juice and oil. Mix in the apples, cranberries and nuts. Fill the cups 3/4 full and bake for 25-30 minutes. Enjoy.

We also made Boston Brown Bread and very much enjoyed it. You can read about how we made it here.

The other delicious Boston recipe that we tried was Boston Creme Pie. That was a hit with everybody. Yummy!

We would still love to hear more about Massachusetts if you would like to share anything. This week we studied Maryland which was quite fun and I much appreciated a lengthy e-mail from Michelle about that state. I will share about that soon. Next week we are "going" to South Carolina and would love to hear what you know and like about that state!

(I am so excited, spell check is finally working again! I hope that makes it easier for everybody to read my posts!)

Friday, February 22, 2008

"My Body lies over the Ocean"

This evening Aaron was listening to "My Bonnie lies over the Ocean" on a CD. He was singing along lustily but his words were: "My Body lies over the Ocean". Do you see any logistical problems with that? He did too. But why let logic stop you from singing a good song?

Making a womans size jumper into a girls size one

Today for Frugal Friday I thought I would share another of my recent projects. This was a very simple one but one that made my daughter pretty happy.
I had been given the above jumper by a friend. It was a second hand one that she thought I might like. I was planning on trying it on but Mara saw it and exclaimed "Oh a jumper, I have been wanting one." I didn't need it, I have plenty of dress clothes and so though it was quite a bit to big for Mara I decided to try to figure out how we could make it work.

The jumper was a pretty thin one, with a pretty straight and long skirt that had a slit in the back. It also was a little bit empire waisted which made it perfect for making it work for Mara. I had Mara try it on and the shoulders actually fit fairly decently. I decided that I could leave them the way they were. I was able to just sew a seam down each side of the bodice to make it narrower, which simply made a little pleat on the skirt part which looks all right. And then I cut off some length which pretty much got rid of the slit and put a new hem in. That was all I had to do.

Now I have a girl who is quite happy to finally have a jumper. (I am not sure why that is such a big deal but she became aware of her lack when we had wanted to wear jumpers for "J" day.) I was quite happy too as I didn't really need something else in my closet and I am glad that it is being put to use.

Re-making clothes is really quite easy to do and it makes being able to clothe your family frugally much easier!

For more frugal ideas go visit Frugal Friday at Biblical Womanhood.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Boston Brown Bread

Last week as we were learning about Massachusetts we had fun making Boston Brown Bread. It was something that I have never made before and it is made quite differently but it is very good. I thought I would share the recipe with you. The recipes makes 2 small loaves.

1 Tbsp butter at room temperature
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup wholewheat flour
1 cup rye flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 cups buttermilk
(or you can cheat like I did and use dry milk, water and a little vinager)
1/2 cup molassas
1 cup raisens
Grease two 1 lb. food cans with the soft butter. (I used a can from Spaghetti Sauce and one from Peaches that I had washed out well.)
Stir together all of the dry ingrediants. Add the wet ingrediants and mix well. Pour the batter into the two cans, filling them 2/3 full. Cover the tops with buttered foil and secure down so that the rising bread cannot push off the foil lid. Set the cans on a rack in a large sauce pan with a lid. Pour in enough warm water to come halfway up the sides of the cans. Cover the pan, bring to a boil, and steam for 2 1/2 hours. Check occasionally to make sure that there is still enought water in there, adding more if neccasary.

Then comes the time to take the time to take it out of the cans. Slice the loaves and serve with butter or cream cheese. We all thought it was quite yummy! (And actaully quite light for having been made with all whole grains!) I doubt I will make this very often because of the long cooking time, but I think it would work great if you had a wood stove going that had a flat top the you could cook it on. My mom does a lot of cooking on the top of her wood stove but hasn't tried this yet, but I think it would work well.
When I finally remembered to take a picture of the finished product this was all that was left!

Have you tried eating or making Boston Brown Bread? What did you think?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Works for me Wednesday ~ Laundry

My husband Ken, works as an insurance agent and in that line of work he needs to wear dress clothes. When we were first married I spent a fair amount of time each week carefully ironing all his dress shirts and pants until he shared the secret (which I am sure many of you know) with me of pulling them right out of the dryer as soon as it is done and carefully hanging them up. It has been so nice to greatly reduce my ironing time (I only iron something around once a month now) especially as my life has gotten busier. This method does not work with all fabrics. Somethings just require ironing no matter what. SO we have gotten quite picky about what we buy. For Ken's shirts we only get ones that say "Wrinkle Free". "Wrinkle free" does not mean that they never wrinkle but it does mean that if you pull them straight out of the dryer as soon as it is done drying that it will not be wrinkled. This method certainly works for me!
I also thought I would share some other laundry tips that work for me (They may or may not work for you in your situation).
  • Do all the Laundry in jut two days of the week. I like this because I can haul everything to the laundry room, sort it all out and then just work as fast as I can to get everything done. In the summer when I try to hang a lot on the line I will do heavy items first so that they can have the longest drying time (In Northern MN it takes quite a while to dry clothes, unlike my experience in Kansas and Nevada). This system for doing all the laundry in a big batch is actually not recommended for the septic system but it still works for me.
  • Re-wear clothes. This is something that our whole family does. If something that you have worn is not really dirty, then wear it again another day. We also use our towels for more than a day (you are clean when you use them, so they don't really get dirty). Both of these methods save you time (in doing the laundry), Money (in detergent cost and water if you live in town) and are better for the enviroment.
  • Re-use dryer sheets. This is a very small item but I like noticing the small things too. Dryer sheets usually work for at least 2 loads of clothes. So now the box lasts twice as long. This also saves money and is better for the enviroment.
  • Use aprons. I wear an apron some when cooking but this is mostly for the kids. Mara recently got to quit wearing an apron at meals but the other 3 still do. I have made them big aprons that cover well and do not look like a baby's bib. This has saved us a lot of laundry as they are not always getting their clothes dirty at meals. Much of the time we re-use the aprons many times.
  • Hang up wet items to dry before placing them in the hamper. There have been times that I have not done that and I have found favorite items with mold stains on them (this seemed to happen most with Mara's baby clothes). I think I have finally learned my lesson.
  • Treat spots before they go in the washer. My favorite spot treater is ZOTE soap. My friend Evie -who keeps her kid's clothes immaculate- shared this soap with me. It works very well. The white bar is for white clothes and the pink one for colored. A bar lasts forever so it is very economical.

Those are the laundry tips that I can think of that work for me. Do you have any to share?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Game of the States

Our friend Emily loaned us this game since we have been studying about the States. We have had a lot of fun with it! While playing it you have to travel from state to state and buy different commodities from them and then go deliver them to another state. Our whole family has enjoyed playing it and it has helped us learn where different states are better.
Do you know of any other neat games for learning geography?

A new outfit for SuSan

This is my special friend SuSan. She goes to church with us and is a big blessing. She has some developmental challenges but I can learn a lot from her in many ways. She is very giving and very concerned about others. She is always requesting prayer for many people. People that might just be a friend of a co-worker but yet she is extremely concerned about them and knows that prayer is what they need. Her prayers on our prayer night are very simple yet they are completely sincere and heartfelt. I hope I can be more like SuSan in those areas.

When Mara wore the skirt that I made her to church SuSan really liked it and wondered if I would help her make one. So we arranged a date to have her over to make one. On that day my sister Anna happened to travel up and was at my parents so we decided to have the sewing party at Mom and Dad's so that we all could be together. We had a very fun time making the skirt together. We had decided to use material from a dress that had been given to me a while back that hadn't been worn much. SuSan had brought some old jeans which we cut the top off of. We then attached the skirt of the dress to it. SuSan wondered if we could make the top of the dress into a shirt for her so we re-worked it a little to try to make it work.
We were in the mood for using things up and we still had the bottom of the jeans and the ties from the dress so Anna suggested a bag. She put together the cute bag below for SuSan. SuSan was quite pleased with it all and we all had a wonderful time.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Jonathan's new quilt

I recently finished this new quilt for Jonathan. I started it in August thinking I might get it done for his birthday at the end of August but obviously that didn't happen. Jonathan has been very patiently waiting for it.

For the quilts that I make I really like to use either material scraps or clothes that are no longer being used. I have a hard time with the idea of buying brand new big sections of fabric and cut it up into little sections to make quilts. I have seen some very pretty ones that others have made doing that though, it just isn't my style.

For this quilt I wanted to make it pretty heavy as Jonathan sleeps on a bunk bed and making your bed on a bunk bed can be a big challange and it makes it easier if there are not lots of layers to pull up. I used denim and other heavy weight fabric for the top and then I put an old blanket in the middle and a t-shirt sheet on the back. (By the way I don't recommend using a t-shirt sheet for the back, especially not if you are a perfectionist! It is nearly impossible to get it straight and without flaws. It may be possible but I didn't accomplish it. Thankfully I am not a perfectionist.)

I decided to do a very simple design with a sailboat in the middle and then some stars of sorts and then mostly just squares. It was quite easy but we like the way it turned out. Jonathan really likes the sailboat.

Here is the happy boy on his bed. Have you done any sewing lately?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Our simple and fun Valentines day

We had a pretty simple but sweet Valentines day. At the breakfast table I put at each persons place a little Valentine made out of scraps of paper. I also put a cereal bar which I had got on sale and happened to be wrapped in red and is quite a treat at our house at each place.
At my place I found the items pictured above. The day before the 3 older kids had all secluded themselves in the girls closet and made these. It was very sweet!

On Thursday morning I helped Ken out at his office while the kids stayed at my parents. It was fun because although we don't get to spend the whole time visiting it is fun to be able to work side by side. We thought about going out for lunch but Ken had a lunch meeting that he needed to attend. The kids and I ended up eating a very yummy lunch of fried fish at my parents.

We decided to have supper at home. The above picture is of our table. We put on a fancy table cloth (my Grandma on my Mom's side made this for our wedding gift. There are over 30 cousins on that side and she is making one for each one!!) I put some heart shaped tins and boxes in the middle of the table and then added some candles. We set the table with red and white plates and then folded some red napkins that we had to make it look fancy.
For our supper I wasn't feeling like cooking gourmet (I don't usually!) and we just had ham, homemade scalloped potatoes and salad. I did come up with the idea to cut the ham into hearts which was a big hit.
For dessert I made cheesecake with raspberry sauce. It was quite yummy! The texture was a little different though, not so smooth. I think it was becuase I used Neufchatel Cheese which had been frozen. I don't know for sure, what do you think?

(I was planning on sharing the recipe but I am having trouble with the line spacing (in case you didn't realize I have my share of troubles on the computer, I am just beginning to really know how to use theses things!) and the recipes was looking really funny. For my cheese cake crust I use whole wheat flour instead of grahm crackers. If anybody would like the recipe I will try to post it later.)


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