Friday, October 31, 2008

A Homemade Christmas!

Today I want to invite you to join me every Monday (until Christmas) for a series on a Homemade Christmas. I am planning on sharing with you homemade gift ideas and tutorials, decorating ideas and special foods to make. I also am really hoping that you will join me as I plan on putting up a Mr. Linky so that you can write posts about a Homemade Christmas as well and link back to mine so there will be lots of fun ideas for us to browse through.

When I grew up we did not celebrate Christmas for a variety of reasons a few of them being the high commercialism that usually comes with it, lies about Santa Claus,and the stress and financial burden that falls on many families. Those aspects of Christmas are ones that I still avoid but our little family has found that we can have a very fun, no stress Christmas and we enjoy it by keeping it simple and having a lot of fun making things for each other. I would love to see more people step back and make Christmas fun and simple again. This series of posts will hopefully encourage you in that.

Here are some examples of the sort of thing I will be sharing over the next few weeks:

I think Christmas can be very fun and memorable without spending much money and I think if we share our ideas it can be even more that way! So please come join me on the next 8 Mondays.

If you would take my little graphic (above) and help spread the word around, I would really appreciate that!

We have gotten started!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A new dress for Mara

One of the thrifty green projects that I really enjoy is remaking clothes. Last week I decided to go through my closet and get rid of anything that I didn't wear, or that didn't fit me that well or I didn't like the way I looked in it. One dress that I decided didn't work for me (I really liked it but it was a little to short and tight) I decided to remake for Mara.
It was actually a pretty simple project as I didn't have to do a lot to it. The picture above show how it fit her before I did anything to it.
I saw this really cool tip somewhere else online: when you need to figure out how much to take something in, put it on wrong side out! Above is Mara wearing the dress wrong side out and I figured out how much to take in the side seams and sleeves. I did that on both sides and then to make the shoulders fit better I added a bit of elastic. Then I cut a couple of inches off of the bottom and hemmed it again. With the extra fabric I added some fabric around the neck to fill in the neckline and I also made a headband for her.

Mara was quite pleased with the "new" dress and I was happy for her to have one that will be pretty and warm on her for the winter as well as looking better on her than it did on me.

A blog reader recently e-mailed wondering if I had any ideas for re-using men's dress shirts (She was specifically interested in Shirt dresses.) I haven't ever remade any yet but after researching it a bit I am interested now! I thought I would post some of the neat links that I found. (The first my friend Betsy actually told me about some time ago.)
I would love to hear any of your ideas on remaking clothes!

WFMW ~ Never run out of anything (almost!)

We have a system at our house which works really well (though once and a while we mess up and don't follow it perfectly). Our system is this: We keep a shopping list pad posted on the refrigerator. We also buy two or more of the things we regularly use. For instance on Mayonnaise we always have one which is in use in the fridge and another that is ready on the shelf. Whenever we use up the Mayonnaise in the fridge then we write it on the list and then open the one on the shelf. As long as we follow this (which both Ken and I are pretty good at now) we never have to say "Oh no! we are all out of ketchup!" when we are having burgers and oven fries. That definitely works for us.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

One minute wellness

I just finished reading the book "One minute Wellness, the natural health and happiness system that never fails" by Dr. Ben Lerner with Dr. Greg Loman. I really enjoyed it and found it to be inspiring and so I thought I would tell you about it.

He thinks there are 5 essentials to maximized living and they are:
  1. Avoidance and Reduction of Medications.
  2. Maximum Nerve Supply (this would be through chiropractic care, making sure that you have no subluxations.)
  3. Quality Nutrients.
  4. Optimum Oxygen Levels and Lean Muscle (this comes from exercise ~ leading an active lifestyle.)
  5. Peace of Mind and Strong Relationships.

I found what he said to make a lot of sense and I especially appreciated that he tied everything back to God and the reason that we want to be healthy and live well is for Him.

Here are some quotes from the book I really appreciated:

"Pregnant women always say they are eating for two. I always say I am eating for three:

  1. God
  2. The people I love and serve.
  3. Me ( I do like to look and feel my best.)"

If you just eat healthy because you want to look good, you can easily get discouraged, but if you eat healthy for a higher reason than that, for instance taking care of the body that God made, wanting to be able to serve God to the best of your ability and being able to be a better wife and mother, that will be far greater motivation.

He also talks a lot of our need to have a mission, a purpose.

"It is hard to imagine someone on a mission chronically unhappy and in need of mood-altering medication. The phrase "on a mission" conjures up an image of someone fired up, energetic, and ready to take on the world. It certainly doesn't paint a picture of someone depressed, fatigued, and hunched over on a bar stool or in a medical waiting room."

"Anytime you life's focus turns to serving yourself, you will find that you are highly susceptible to a lack of motivation, disorder, and sometimes even despair. But when you choose to focus your energy on your mission -your duty to serve others- you will quickly watch mood elevate along with your energy and enthusiasm.

"The discipline of doing work that serves your mission sounds tough. Many people look at guidelines for living as a lawful, dry and boring existence. But they are not. Far from it! The life that is inspired by and obedient to God is the blessed life. It is a life that goes beyond simple happiness into an inner sense of peace and fulfillment. It the embodiment of Maximized Living."

He talks about Maximized living in a minimized-living world. He talks of the need for people with integrity and principles. I appreciated this list.

"Principled men and women are those who

  • trust in and rely on their bodies' own resources first for getting and staying well.
  • cannot be bought at any price.
  • are conscious of how they treat their bodies.
  • do what is right, not what is expedient.
  • are honest in every transaction, no matter how big or small.
  • make decisions that always take into account the well-being of others.
  • look for a way for everyone to win.
  • believe God is always watching their steps.
  • see past what is important in this world and into what is important in God's world.
  • never pay their expenses at the expanse of others.
  • passionately desire to be successful in their missions but will not use deception, cunning or other people to get there.
  • do not fear rejection, failure or swimming upstream against popular opinion.
  • are willing to do what has never been done.
  • are inspired to consistently do God's work.
  • are faithful and hopeful.
  • are uncompromising in their leadership.
  • are willing to endure hardships and the tests of time and do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to see their missions accomplished.
  • put God and family before absolutely everything.

That list reminds me of Psalm chapter 15 which the kids and I have been memorizing. It says:

A psalm of David.
"1 LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary?
Who may live on your holy hill?
2 He whose walk is blameless
and who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from his heart
3 and has no slander on his tongue,
who does his neighbor no wrong
and casts no slur on his fellowman,
4 who despises a vile man
but honors those who fear the LORD,
who keeps his oath
even when it hurts,
5 who lends his money without usury
and does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things
will never be shaken."

For more information you can visit Dr. Ben Lerner's website on Maximized Living.

Monday, October 27, 2008

6 Week rotating menu

I think menu planning is a great way to go and have done menu planning for most of my married life. This year I got very into trying new things all the time as we have been studying about the 50 states for our homeschooling (taking one state a week) and I was trying to eat recipes that were special for that state. Cooking had started to get a little overwhelming and Ken and the kids were a little tired of constantly having new foods. Something needed to change.

After some discussion we decided to try out a plan that we have thought about off and on. That is to make up a menu (I decided on a 6 week one) that we could basically just rotate over and over. The idea is that I will never have to make a menu again. (So this might be my last time to participate in Menu plan Monday.) I included foods that have been old favorites in our household. I did not put what vegetables we would be eating on there as that will be according to what is seasonally available. Another things that I did was to leave Thursday blank. That is our family night and I decided it would also be a good night to have our special state food (And after we are done studying states we are planning on going to countries and then beyond that it can just be a night for trying new things.).

You might notice that only Sunday has dinner/lunch listed, on the other days we generally eat leftovers or if we don't have any I make soup or something with beans (which Ken doesn't like) for the kids and I. Only Saturday has breakfasts listed. We eat breakfast every day but on most days I need something that I can get on the table in about 20 minutes or less so we eat things like eggs, toast, yogurt, pancakes, french toast, muffins (baked the day before) and occasionally cereal. On Saturdays I have more time to cook breakfast so we have some more time consuming breakfasts listed.

To see the menu with a little larger print (in case you don't have eagle eyes!!) just click on it.

I am also trying to incorporate making double meals and freezing them. On the menu I will have in parentheses "Make extra to freeze" or F. (freeze) E. (extra) and "From Freezer" or f.f. That way about once a week I can just pull something out of the freezer instead of needing to do any cooking. I have used this method off and on and I really like it and am glad I am finally incorporating it on a more regular basis.

For Thursday this week since we are studying about Montana was are planning on having:

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Aaron turns 5!

Yesterday was Aaron's 5th birthday. It was a fun and fairly relaxing day. We had fun making some presents for him. Jonathan made him a bow and some arrows, Mara made him a gecko and some handkerchiefs (he had announced the other day that he needed some).
One of the gifts I made for him was this quilt. This was a fun and fast project. I was using some old squares (corduroy, jean and other heavy weight materials) that my siblings and I had cut out as kids while listening to Mom read aloud stories like "David Copperfield" and "Evidence Not Seen". (My mom used to read aloud to us for hours, even as teenagers. We loved it and would work on lots of projects while she read.) The middle square is a piece of needlework I did as a child and then I also used some animal picture fabric that my Grandma had given to me.

Another gift that Aaron had been wanting was a horse outfit. I tried to make one from some heavy weight fabric that had been given to us. The head was a bit of a challenge and I still need to put the eyes on (I was waiting until he had tried it on) but it worked out okay. Jonathan actually was the one that ended up wearing it a lot of the day, but Aaron didn't seem to mind.
I made the horse outfit to also work as a regular outfit. Here it is without the "head" or the "tail".
For his cake Aaron decided on a fire engine cake. It didn't turn out very well. My red wasn't very red, the frosting was to runny and the cake to warm but Aaron seemed to like it all right. Everybody else could tell what it was too (At least after we told them! ). The kids also made some fire men for table decorations (we also had candles for their fire).
We had invited my parents and siblings over to join us for supper and cake and ice cream. Jake asked if he could come as well, and that sounded fine to me so we had him as well. Shortly before they were to come SuSan called and wondered what we were doing and I mentioned it was Aaron's birthday, She asked "Are you having cake and ice cream?" I said yes so she thought she had better come too. :-) She was able to get a ride from Jake (after I talked her out of riding her bike as it would have been rather dark and cold). When SuSan arrived she noticed that Megan had been cutting paper in her room and had failed to clean up (Megan is great at making paper messes!), she wondered if she could pick it up, I was busy finishing getting supper ready and I said "sure!" She then proceeded to clean the girls room. After supper SuSan decided to wash all the dishes (we did help!). She is thinking maybe she should move in with me to help me clean. :-) I think I rather like having SuSan over!
All in all it was a pretty good day.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

In the mood for crafts/sewing and all!

It has been chilly and wet around here lately, which is perfect weather for pulling out the craft and sewing stuff.
Earlier this week a few of us got together to make cards. That is something that I think is a lot of fun to do especially when you have somebody to visit with while doing it. Emily and Keren and the kids and I all got quite a few cards made. When I make cards I like to use rubber stamps a lot and I also enjoy using up lots of little paper scraps, catalog pictures, old cards and more to make cards. Basically all I buy is white and cream card stock. Making cards makes for a wonderful fun and creative evening.

I have also been busy sewing gifts for Aaron's birthday which is today. It has been very fun and I will share about it later.

I have been thinking it would be fun to start a series on Homemade Christmas gifts. If I set up a "Mr. Linky" would anybody else like to join me?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

WFMW ~ Child training books

Today I thought I would share with you some books that have been very helpful for us in raising our children. When I was pregnant with our first child Ken and I read through "To Train Up A Child" by Micheal and Debi Pearl together. We were able to discuss the topics brought up and go over any differences we had before we were in the child training situation. That has really helped so that we can work together (Without any fighting) at raising our children.

"To Train up a Child" is a very interesting book to read, it is not that long and has a bunch of stories that they use as examples. They use scripture extensively on the subject as well a bunch of good common sense. I appreciate that fact that the writers have 5 adult children who all attest to the fact that their parents did a good job. The book really concentrates on the parent being the boss and being one consistently but also having a lot of fun with your children and being joyful.
We have found this book to be very helpful in raising our kids. We don't have perfect children but we aren't ashamed of them either. I don't do a perfect job of raising them either but I am trying. From time to time when I realize I really need to be reminded of just how I should be doing it, I read the book again. The "No Greater Joy" books are a continuation of "To Train up a Child."
I also included "Created to be His Helpmeet" in the picture as that is a book that has really encouraged me in being a good wife. It is written by Debi Pearl.

These books really work for me!
Have you read them? What do you think? What child training books do you like?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Hoping to go bald...

On Saturday night it was time for the boys haircuts. There hair had gotten longer than normal and it truly needed to be done. Aaron has never enjoyed haircuts partly because we also have him take a shower afterwards but at this haircut his comment was "I hope I go bald soon!". He was quite disappointed to find out that you usually have to be an adult (and that quite likely won't work for him either as it isn't in his genetics) or have chemo to go bald.

I just thought I should let any bald guys out there know that Aaron is quite jealous!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Fall decorating

I have been so in awe of how God has been so beautifully redecorating the outside lately! It has been very gorgeous around here (Now is a little past the peak however). It has made me want to do a little beautifying too so I thought I would share some of the ways we have been decorating lately.
Last Sunday the kids collected a bunch of gorgeous leaves. I pressed some so that they would look nice longer.
I looked around my house to see what fall things I had and I found some pretty ribbon in fall colors (most was from my grandma) as well as some silk flowers. I decided to add some ribbons and leaves to this wreath which hangs above my kitchen cabinets, I also stuck a red basket with some flowers in it up there.
For our table Megan and I made a fall basket of fruit and veggies and originally flowers. I had to do some revising as things got old but it is still there adding color to our table. I also pulled out a red place mat to go underneath and some fall colored ones which one I put on our phone stand and another under a lamp.
On our curtain valances I decided to pin (with a straight pin from the back) some of the beautiful leaves. I did this in both the dining and living room and it really brightens things up!
Here is a closeup of one of the leaves on the curtains.
I found this beautiful fall ribbon in my ribbon stash, I didn't really want to cut it so I decided to use all its length and tie a bow to my hanging plant.

In this corner I added a fall cloth place mat under the lamp and on it put a pumpkin (given to us by some friends), a few crab apples and leaves. I also tied burgundy and green ribbons to the candles on the wall. I also added a crab apple in front of each bow.

I also put another pumpkin in our entry way and then I headed out to the porch. I decided to put to use the scarecrow that I had made earlier this year for our fruit of the spirit (With a farming theme) classes at church this summer. I added some cornstalks and a pumpkin and I thought it had a nice harvest time look.

I had a lot of fun decorating. Doing something like that always makes me feel a little more excited about being a homemaker and having an inviting home. What have you done to make your house feel homey this season?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Life with Megan ~ 3 days of potty training

Last week I decided to really work at getting Megan potty trained. She is now 2 1/2 and I thought it would be nice to get it done! I decided to follow a method where you have 3 days of intensive training and then you should be completely done. The child is never to go out of your sight. This would have been pretty easy to do with Mara as she was the first and only child and she did everything with me pretty much. Megan however likes to do stuff with me but also likes to do stuff by herself or just with her older siblings so keeping a constant eye on her was a challenge. The first couple of days were interesting but on the last day she did seem to be getting it for the most part. She still is not all the way there but we aren't having that many accidents and we are certainly over the hump! It is pretty exciting to be done with diapers!

I took a bunch of pictures of Megan helping me and so I thought it would be fun to share.
~Helping to make bread.
~ She helped put together a centerpiece for our table.
~ She and the other kids helped to cut up broccoli (a couple of 5 gallon buckets full from Mom and Dad) to blanch and freeze.
~She enjoyed stirring our laundry detergent.
~Busy scrubbing the stove top.

~Taste testing some raw pumpkin.
~Ready to help make salsa.
~Playing legos out at the table. Usually they play in the boys room and I went in and played with them for a while (Which the older kids thought was pretty neat since I don't do that very often) but then I wanted to get some other things done so they brought them out to the table so I could still keep an eye on her.

Friday, October 17, 2008

A fun week for us Politically

We have had a fun week as far as getting to meet various people in politics. It has been a great learning experience for the kids as we have been able to not just talk about our leaders but actually meet some of them.
On Monday our Governor, Tim Pawlenty came to Bemidji. We went to see him and listened to about an hour long discussion (With him and other house candidates or people that are already a member of the house speaking and taking questions). I found it to be very informative. We all (except Aaron) had the opportunity to shake his hand as well.

Last night was an exciting night for Bemidji because Todd Palin came to town. As far as we know a president, V.P. or any of their spouses or anybody running for those offices have not come to town since when Eleanor Roosevelt did in 1955. A huge crowd showed up last night and it was fun to see so many people that were supporters of McCain - Palin. There were also some protesters which made the whole event more interesting. Todd only spoke a little bit and then we all got to go and shake his hand. Ken and I tried to get pictures of us shaking his hand but it was to crowded and we had to go to fast. Oh well. :-)

Last week we also got to see Senator Coleman again. He is also planning on coming again next week. This picture is actually from a month or so ago but we just got it e-mailed to us.

It is quite fun for me to hear the kids talk about our elected leaders as though they know them personally, I hope they will have a great understanding of how it all works and will be great citizens of our great country (But even more devoted followers of Christ Jesus!) when they grow up.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

New underwear from Old T-shirts

A project I have had fun with lately that is both green and thrifty is making underwear for Megan. I am currently working at potty training Megan and that sort of undertaking (especially at first) requires quite a few pairs of underwear. I thought about going out and buying some (she already had a few pairs) and then I thought "Why?" I have a bunch of t-shirts to use for projects that would work perfectly to make underwear out of and I also had been given quite a bit of elastic that would work. So here is what I did:

1. I took a pair of panties that she already had and made a pattern (carefully add seam allowances). 2. Cut out a front and a back.
3. Then add any "pretties" that you want on the front.

4. Using zig zag sew a very narrow stitch at the crotch.
5. Then take another piece of fabric and lay it on the inside (covering up the seam). Zig zag in place.
6. Trim the crotch fabric to the right size.

7. Sew elastic on the leg holes. I secure the elastic at one end and then stretch it out while sewing it one the fabric. Lay the elastic on the right side of the fabric and use a zig zag stitch.
This is what it looks like with the elastic on both legs.

8. Sew one side seam. have only 1/2 inch or less seam allowance.

9. Put elastic on waist the same way you did on the legs.

10. Sew other side seam.

Tada! You are all done. This is a very quick project and fun because you are using up something that would have otherwise been discarded and it makes something useful. So far I have only made some for Megan but I think I am going to do it for anybody else that needs some too. I am thinking I could make boxers for the boys. These might also make good birthday presents for my sister Keren. (Don't you think so Keren?)

For more Thrifty Green tips visit Green Baby Guide.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Making learning fun

I love the philosophy of learning from life. That not all our learning need come from a dry old textbook. I think we can learn lots and lots of useful stuff and have fun doing it! That said I really enjoy homeschooling my children and I am striving to find ways to make them want to learn rather than having to push them to learn. For a large part that has been quite successful. (We do still have subjects that they don't prefer and I do still insist that they study them anyway but for the most part they do indeed love to learn.)

Here are a few things that have happened lately to make the kids want to learn.

1. Jonathan wanted to get a watch. I said that would be fine but we need to get a regular one (not digital) and he would need to learn how to tell time. He got a watch and within a couple of hours was an expert at telling time. In fact now we often get the time announced around here so I could probably stop wearing a watch if I wanted too. It was so nice to have him learn in that way rather than off the pages of some book.

2. Jonathan still struggles a bit with reading but there is nothing like the love of a little sister to motivate you to read. Megan wanted a story and Jonathan didn't feel like he could say no.

3. Have fun and educational books and games available. On Monday we got a couple of boxes of new books and games that we ordered. (Our school district allows $75 per school age child for educational material each year. These books are from that.) The kids were so thrilled to look through them. One thing we got was a book about our body that also had a little skeleton. The kids have found that to be very interesting and have learned a lot about how we are made. We also got a set of books called The Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer. It is History (starting in ancient times) presented in a very readable format. I haven't read them yet but Mara has read over one and a half of those books. I also got some historical fiction which she has been enjoying. Another treasure we got was a CD with a story and music about Mozart. We also got a puzzle and game to help with geography. All of it the kids really enjoy and they LEARN. Below is a close up picture of most of what we got (Photography by Jonathan, he was having a blast lining everything up and taking pictures).

Another fun learning tool that Jonathan has been enjoying lately is Google Earth. He has been exploring the world on the computer. I thought especially fun was the tour of neat landmarks around the world. Jonathan enjoyed trying to go to the top of the Mountain behind Grandad and Nana's house.

Having kids that enjoy learning certainly works for me!


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