Friday, February 27, 2009

A rocking chair for the church nursery

This winter a big part of our lives has been working on our new church building. After years of prayer and planning we were able to build a new place and though we hired contractors for the big stuff all of us from church have been pitching in on much of the detail work. It not only has saved us money but has also been a wonderful time of fellowship to spend time working together on various projects.

The project I thought I would tell you about today isn't actually part of the church building and I didn't work on it there but it is for the church building. We were wanting to furnish our new nursery without spending a lot of money and Mom mentioned that she had this glider rocker that they didn't need anymore but the cushions were worn out and it needed recovering, "Would I want to tackle it?" You know me, I enjoy projects that involve sewing and craftiness and so I said "Sure."

So the chair came over to me house and then it sat. First for a while in my office but then I needed more space and it went to spend some time in the laundry room. It was in the way there as well and I thought, "I really need to get this done!" But I just hadn't figured out exactly how I would do it and didn't feel quite ready to jump into it. Do you ever do that? Plan a project but then put it off because you don't feel quite sure about it? I have problems with doing that regularly!
Well finally I decided I had better just jump right in and get going. I decided to use red as the nursery has a pretty blue carpet and another couple from church had bought really cute toy bins in red, blue and green. We decided it would be fun to use bright colors throughout the room. (Also I had the red fabric on hand so that helped in the decision.) I replaced the original seat cushion with a new piece of thick foam which makes it much more comfortable. I made my own piping (My sister Keren actually cut the fabric strips for me) out of old blue jeans to go around all the edges. Once I got going on the project it really wasn't that hard I just needed to get motivated.
I also found this pillow front in a box of things that I had worked on as a teen. Keren and I finished making it into a pillow cover and decided to add that to the chair. It was fun to get a very old project finally finished!
I love projects like this in my quest to live frugally. I was able to make an old chair look fresh again using things that I already had on hand. Slipcovers are a great way to freshen things up!
For more frugal tips visit Biblical Womanhood.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Our Valentines Day Fun

I know Valentines Day is over a week past but we had such a lovely day and I took pictures too, so I still wanted to share about it even though I am rather behind the times!
On Friday (the day before Valentines Day we decided to have a special school day where we basically just had fun decorating the house (I love homeschooling because we can do things like that and since we work hard at other times we are ahead in our schoolwork anyway and a day like that doesn't hurt at all.). I actually didn't get many good pictures of all our work but we made hearts to hang on the valances, windows, from the chandelier and just all over. It was great fun.
Above the sliding glass door we had a string of hearts on ribbons with gold letters on some of them that said "God is Love". I also added the red and white tablecloth to our table for a festive touch. Above is how Aaron helped me set the breakfast table with red and pink dishes for the kids and white ones for Ken and I. There are special little surprises at everyone's plate.
For the kids I had made little animal faces using heart shapes into valentines. Nearly all the paper I used was from Junk mail or other scratch paper that made its way to our house. For a little treat I gave them chocolate chex mix (which I had gotten a great deal on) wrapped in red (recycled) tissue paper. The younger two were especially excited to find them when they got up in the morning. Aaron was sure the frog was his since he likes green and sure enough it was. Both Aaron and Megan wanted their picture taken with the card. They enjoyed using them in their play afterwards as well.
For breakfast I made heart shaped pancakes. I enjoyed mine with peanut butter (that is a must for pancakes at our house) and chokecherry syrup (which I made and canned this past summer). I thought the syrup made it look pretty festive.

As part of my gift for Ken I decorated this heart shaped box (that I had saved from last year) and put some candy that I had bought in a plain old bag in it. (Ken doesn't care for most chocolates anyway (which is what usually come in fancy Valentines boxes) and so I could get something he liked better. I also handmade a card for him.

We thought about going out for supper but decided to just stay home and relax. Ken grilled some yummy steaks (from our hormone free 1/4 steer we bought) and I fixed the rest of the meal which we decided to eat by candlelight. I had also made a heart shaped cheesecake (with strawberries I picked last summer) to have for dessert.
The day ended up being very thrifty but still quite fun and festive. For more Thrifty Green Thursday posts visit Green Baby Guide.
What fun things did you do for Valentines day?
For a post with various Valentines Ideas and links to places like where I got the animal ideas go here.
Another post you might find interesting for Thrifty Green living is on 35 ways to use old t-shirts.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

WFMW ~ Searching a blog

I was quite excited to discover something this past week. It is something probably most of you have been using for months (years?) but I guess I am just a little slow on the uptake.
I had been wanting to have a way to search my blog for topics that I had written on in the past so that I could link to them in new posts and I had even tried putting a search thing in my side column (but I couldn't get it to fit with my 3 columns).
BUT I finally noticed that I have had a search place the whole time. Up in the upper left hand corner of a blogger blog is a white space and then a button that says search blog. Just put in whatever you are looking for and it works just like google. It is so nice!! And it really works for me. To bad I hadn't started being a little more observant months ago, It could have saved me a lot of time!
Starting this week Works for Me Wednesday is hosted by "We are that Family".

Monday, February 23, 2009

Skiing with my sweetheart

On Sunday afternoon Ken and I tried something new - Downhill skiing. Neither of us had ever been downhill skiing before (though I did grow up doing a fair amount of cross country skiing which made things much easier for me). Ken had seen a class offered through our Community Education so he signed us up.

We had an instructor for the first hour who showed us the basics and then we had time to do some skiing on our own. Ken has never cared much for other sports where you had to hook something on your feet (for instance ice skating and roller skating) and at first I was afraid skiing would have the same result but it didn't. After a little bit of rough start Ken really did quite well for never having been on skis before. We graduated from the bunny hill and had fun zigzagging down the next hill as well.

I know this probably sounds childish but I have always wanted to ride on a ski lift and that was probably the highlight of my day. I thought it was a lot of fun! I also really enjoyed learning how to do those tight zig-zags where you throw your hips and then send up a little spray of snow. I also loved just shooting down the hills with the wind whipping through my hair. My only concern was that there would be this big crowd of people at the bottom that I wouldn't have room to steer around (And coming to a quick stop is something I haven't figured out yet!) thankfully that never happened and there were no casualties.

Now I really like downhill skiing and am looking forward to going again. It is to bad it costs so much! After doing something like that I would like to say that I feel wonderful, not a bit of soreness anywhere. Unfortunately that isn't the truth, yesterday I was quite sore and tired. I must be getting old!

I had hoped to have more pictures but my batteries died and I had failed to take any extras along.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The love of lists

I like lists. I think it is great fun to write down everything that I want to get done and then get to mark them off when it is accomplished. I find lists very useful to help me to remember what to get at the store, errands that need to be run, foods I plan on having at a special meal even every subject I need to cover when calling somebody. I also appreciate having a prayer list. Not that I just go down the list, mention them to God and then cross them off but it does help me to remember people that truly do need prayer as I am prone to forgetting.

Forgetting is really what it all comes down to. I have so many things going on in my life and my memory is certainly not photographic and so I forget things. Lists help me to not forget quite so much!

You might have noticed I added some new lists to my blog. On the left hand side is a list of books that I want to read this year. I love to read and I enjoy reading books that teach me things but sometimes I can get so caught up getting new books from the library or fun books from where ever that I have been skipping some books that we have on our own shelves that I have never read. A few of the books on the list I have been thinking I should read for some time but they didn't look as exciting as other books that would come along. I thought as list on here might help me be a little more motivated. I was inspired by Jess at Making Home to make a reading list. If any have you have read any of the books in the list I would love to hear your thoughts on them!

My other list (on the right) is a set of things I think would be fun to do in my lifetime. I have seen this on other blogs (sometimes called a bucket list) and I always think it is fun to read as it gives me greater insight to there goals and dreams (even of friends I know pretty well). The first thing on the list is the only one that really matters however. The others I think would be fun but my utmost desire is to please God and so if the others don't follow along with that or I don't have the time for them then that is fine! What are some of your dreams? I would love to hear.

I also like making lists when I blog. I enjoy reading posts like that and I like to write them too. Here are an example of some of my list posts:

Thursday, February 19, 2009

35 ways to use old T-shirts

I don't know about you all, but I seem to easily get an over abundance of old t-shirts around here. They are to poor of quality to pass on to someone else but they still have some life left in them. It has been my mission this past year or so to figure out ways to make them into things we need. Here is a collection of ways we have used them as well as ideas others have come up with.

  1. Make a skirt! This skirt took just a little time and two old polos of Ken's. There are a lot of different ways you could make skirts out of old t-shirts. Have fun and be creative! (here is a picture of another style of cute skirt.)

  2. For Tank tops. Here is a tutorial to show you how.

  3. Cheap (and pretty) Underwear. I started with ones for Megan and then have done boxers for the boys and pretty soon I plan on making them for the rest of us. :-) They are easy and quick! It isn't hard to find enough fabric either.

  4. Rags! 100% cotton t-shirts make wonderful rags when they are cut up. Cut them to the size you desire.

  5. This isn't something I would make or wear, but it can be done: A Bikini.

  6. A cute baby dress.

  7. A Scarf. Cut your t-shirts into narrow strips (around 1/4 inch wide) to make yarn and then knit a chunky scarf. This scarf took around 3 shirts. They were cotton/polyester which worked well. I have also a hat in the works made from t-shirt yarn. I think you make about anything, it would just be thick.
  8. Toddler pants. Very simple and easy and comfortable! What more could you ask for? It would work great for pajama pants too.

  9. Make a pillow. (Though personally I think I would cut off the sleeves and sew up that hole.)

  10. Make hats and mittens. The ones picture below I just used a t-shirt for the lining but it would have worked fine to use it for all of it.

  11. Sew some cute cloth diapers! This will really save you money! Not only will you not have to buy disposable diapers but you won't have to buy cloth ones either. For fabric baby wipes just cut up some more cotton t-shirts to make lovely ones! You can also make pre-fold diapers from t-shirts.

  12. Make a rug. Cut you t-shirts into strips that are around 1 inch wide and then you can crochet into a rug. You can also make a braided rug with them. This isn't my fabric of choice but I have tried it and it does work.

  13. A cute little bunny hat.

  14. You can make them into a different sort of shirt in lots of ways! (Check out all her links on the left hand side.)

  15. Make a soft cuddly doll. For this I used a white t-shirt which I then dyed with tea to make a better flesh color. T-shirt material makes a very nice body for a "baby".
  16. Doll Clothes. You don't have to worry about the knit fabric fraying and it is pretty sturdy and doll clothes don't take to much so t-shirts work just swell.
  17. Make a tote Bag. Here is a super simple tote bag. And another t-shirt tote bag tutorial. And one in a little different style using a child's long sleeve t-shirt. Here is one that doesn't require sewing. Here is yet another simple bag in a different style. And here is a hobo style bag.
  18. Or you could make a purse! Here is one using 2 t-shirts (in different colors). Here is a tie up one with lots of fringes.
  19. Make Napkins. This is something I just tried. I like to use cloth napkins and have a bunch made from woven cotton material but Ken didn't think they absorbed very well so I thought cotton knit might do better. I think it is going to work great! These are super simple to make as you just cut out a square the size you want and them put a small hem on the ages. If you want to make them really cool you could make tie dye ones!
  20. Make a jumper skirt.
  21. How about an Apron?
  22. Use them to make hot pads. Use lots of layers to make them plenty thick. (All the stained portions can be the inside layers.)
  23. Make a memory quilt. Or you can have it done for you if you want. Here are lots of pictures for inspiration.
  24. Make a dress by adding a skirt onto the bottom of the t-shirt. This is super quick and simple.
  25. Make a Baby Bib from an old t-shirt.
  26. A cute spring scarf. (no knitting required! ) Or make a patchwork scarf.
  27. A toy for a dog. (The note at the bottom says you can use t-shirts as well as dish towels.) This would be a great use for old stained up ones as it wouldn't matter at all what they look like here..
  28. Headbands. When I was younger I made those stretchy headbands out of knit material. Old t-shirts would have worked just fine. Here a lady tells how she used the top of a turtle neck.
  29. Use old t-shirts as paint frocks for kids during their art time.
  30. Old t-shirts can be used as stuffing for something like a scarecrow or anything that doesn't have to be soft and fluffy.
  31. Bum covers for little kids. I know I like to have my little girls wear shorts of something of that sort under their dresses, obviously others do as well. It not only keep them more modest but also warmer in the winter. I have also made pioneer style pantaloons out of old white t-shirts before. Be sure to put some pretty white lace on the bottom. :-)
  32. Make a newborn gown. (You know the type with the elastic in the bottom that are much easier to use than sleepers when changing diapers in the middle of the night.
  33. A nightgown.
  34. Barbie Doll sheets. The fabric works great and you don't even need to hem them.
  35. Use a combination of t-shirts sewn together to make a wrap to carry a baby.

I would love to hear any ways you use old t-shirts! It would be great fun to add to this list.

For more Frugal tips visit Frugal Friday at Biblical Womanhood.

Making beads

A favorite activity for the children at our house is making things with beads. Lately they were running low on beads (after making bunches of Geckos) and Mara was wondering when we were going to go to the hobby store. I wasn't planning on making a trip anytime soon and suggested she check into making beads, so she did a little online research and found a clay recipe.


  • 2 cups flour

  • 1 cup salt

  • 2 Tbsp oil

  • 3/4 to 1 cup water

  • And we also added food coloring

Mix together flour and salt. Add the oil and then slowly add the water and stir until you get a nice clay consistency. Then we divided it up and the kids worked the desired color into each lump. After that they worked at shaping them into beads (we used a toothpick to make a hole in the middle but next time we want to use something a bit bigger) and other fun objects. Along with the beads we made some "fruit" for the barbies and I helped Jonathan make some clay Geckos.
Our beads weren't perfect (at all!!) but we think with practise they will get better. The kids really enjoyed the whole process and hope to make some more when friends come over today.

After shaping them all carefully and putting them on a baking sheet they need to bake for around 1 hour at 250 degrees. Try not to make anything to thick as it will have a tendency to crack. You can paint your objects afterwards if you want too.

The "new bead" geckos look a little unique but they are well loved as they are totally homemade!

I thought this worked well for Thrifty Green Thursday as we were able to avoid a trip to the store, use what we had on hand and get by with no packaging. And we had a lot of fun in the process!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

WFMW ~ Family Meals

I am sure I have written about this before but since it is something that works for us SO well I thought I would write on it again.

Something that truly works for us is eating meals as a family! It is so nice to start off our day (at breakfast) with some time together and then after Ken gets home we can discuss what happened in our day at supper. I didn't find all the statistics about it, but I know I have read that kids have much better chances in life when they come from a home that has family meals. That is important to me but more than that we enjoy it! (Lunch time is also together time for the kids and I but Ken eats at work.)

How do we do it? We are blessed in the fact that Ken doesn't have to be to work until 9 am (though he does try to get there earlier) so that makes it much easier for breakfasts. I also have some breakfasts in my repertoire that I can make in around 20 minutes. Some of our usual quick breakfasts are: Eggs and toast (I make homemade bread once a week which we use for this), Pancakes (even with grinding my own flour this can go pretty fast. I do still continue to cook them after we have started eating, I just jump up to flip them), French Toast, Breakfast Burritos, Hash browns and quick breads (made the day before and heated up). Our routine is for Ken and I to get up around 6:30, after I have my prayer time I then wake up the kids and start on breakfast. Aaron is in charge of setting the breakfast table so that is one job I don't have to do. We generally eat around 8 am.

For supper I try to have it ready when Ken gets home from work. Sometimes I am late and we have to wait a bit and sometimes Ken is late and the food has to wait a bit but it generally works out pretty well. The kids help with setting the table and cleanup.

What are things we enjoy about eating together? Sharing stories from our day, discuss anything we are learning currently (yesterday breakfast was filled with oral math problems as the boys are really enjoying math right now), Just being together, discussing problems, laughing over jokes (or just silly kids) and learning and teaching manners. We really like it and would recommend it to anybody!

Do you eat together as a family? How do you make it work? What do you like about it best?

For more Works for Me Wednesday Posts visit Rocks in my Dryer.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Explore Minnesota

Well I am finally getting back to writing about states! We finished studying about them at the very beginning of Jan. so hopefully I remember stuff! :-) I have pictures I wanted to share though so I want to complete the project. I have been doing a series of posts on MN as that is my state and there is so much to be shared!

In this post I will tell about some places we have gone and enjoyed. I would really love it if any of you who know of neat places in MN would jump into the conversation and leave a comment about a place you would recommend.

~One fun thing we did last summer was to go Science Museum of MN which is in St. Paul. It was nice because we got to get in free as we had a membership at the science center in our town. I had been to the science museum as a child but didn't remember it all that well (and I am sure a lot had changed) and it was all new for everybody else. There are several floors with tons of things to see and do. Above the kids were having fun pretending to be a TV host. One of Ken's top favorite exhibits was a ball suspended that had the globe projected on it. The image projected was changing regularly with various things shown each time and there was audio explaining everything. All ages will have lots of fun at the science museum. There is also a bunch of outdoor fun including a huge sandbox with water, a garden maze, a water exhibit where everybody gets very wet and has a lot of fun on a hot summer day, a "camera" you can walk inside and more. ~The Lake Superior Railroad Museum is another very fun place for all ages. Just Ken, Aaron (when he was one) and I have been there so far but we would really love to take our whole family. It is in Duluth, MN and it is a huge old trail depot filled with normal museum stuff (You can learn all about logging, immigration, old clothes, you know all the things in a museum) but there is also a special children's section where kids can see things that interest them, do crafts, place in this super cool palace area with all sorts of neat toys. Then out in another huge area is the place where trains came in and there are trains in there now. Some you can go through and see how they sorted mail and threw it out as they went by, what the fancy dining car was like, how they used to shovel the snow off the tracks and much more. There are also some very cool miniature trains running. From this depot you can also get on a train to take a scenic ride up the north shore of Lake Superior.

~Of course if you are in MN you need to see and take a picture with Paul Bunyan and Babe his blue ox in Bemidji, MN. Part of "History" in MN is learning about Paul and Babe and please don't try to tell us that he was "born" in Maine, we know that he was born in Bemidji and has his grave in Kelliher. Paul and Babe are the 2nd most photographed statues in the USA (1st is Mt. Rushmore.) ~Another place to see is the headwaters of the Mississippi flowing out of Itasca Lake. At the headwaters there are stones that you can walk across, but be prepared to get your feet wet. You won't be impressed with the mightiness of the river at "the top" but it is fun to see the difference between it here and other points farther south. One year we decided to start at the headwaters and canoe for a few days. We couldn't even canoe the first part in August as it was too low, we had to walk in the water and drag our canoes.
If you don't want to try the rocks there is also a little wood bridge a tiny ways down. :-)
Itasca State park (where the headwaters is located) is a very pretty and fun park to visit and has wonderful biking trails. ~You also might like to visit the Mall of America. This is our nations biggest mall and it is BIG! You can't certainly get your exercise while doing your shopping and I can well remember how hard it is to find somebody once you have lost them! In the middle of the mall is the nations largest indoor theme park. Be prepared for crowds when you go, the MOA is the nations most visited destination.

~We also have some nice Zoo's in MN. The Minnesota Zoo is in Apple Valley, MN (Twin Cities area) and is very nice. We have also really enjoyed the Como Zoo (and its free!). At the Como Zoo there is also a very nice conservatory. We also have a nice place to see animals around here: Paul Bunyan's Animal Land.

~A place I really enjoy visiting is the North Shore of Lake Superior. The Lake is very impressive and the is a lot of beautiful scenery all over! Above is a picture I took of Temperance river right before it spills into the lake. Temperance river is so cool because of the way it is cut so deeply in the rock. There are a lot of hiking trails around there and a nice little campground.

~Gooseberry falls is another pretty spot near Lake Superior. We have enjoyed looking at it both in the winter and in the fall. (In mid December much of it was frozen but it looked quite neat!)

~My Sister Anna and B.I.L. Travis introduced us to the Bakken Museum this past year. It is all about electricity in a magnificent old house. It was great educational fun! (It is in St. Paul.)

~Another great addition to MN is the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. I am thankful that I have never needed to go there are a patient but I did enjoy doing a little sightseeing there this past Spring. Above is a picture of an amazing glass formation that was hanging up high in the Cancer area. Mayo clinic has the top medical knowledge worldwide in my understanding. Important people from all over the world go there to get treated.

Those are some places we have enjoyed. I would love to hear places you like to go to!

Curiosity gave the cat its 9 lives

I recently read a magazine article (which I presently wish I could find!) which spoke about how being curious is good for your health. In other words curiosity may not have actually killed the cat but rather gave it more life. :-)

From what I remember, curiosity helps us in several ways. 1. Making life more interesting.
2. Keeping our brain active and young. and 3. With our curiosity making us follow our dreams, we are happier and have less stress. All of these mentioned are good for our health.

When reading through the article it made me ask myself: "Am I a curious person?" Deep down I knew I was but I took the time to think through the different aspects of my life and check each one over. In most areas I am quite curious but some areas I get lazy and there needs to be some growth. Here is a list of ways that I enjoy being curious as well as some things I want to work in.

  1. Do you take the same route each and every time you go someplace? Try a new road! This is something I have loved since I was a child. I remember riding along to town and wondering what was down each road we passed. I loved it whenever we had a chance to drive down one. When my older brother Peter got his license we were able to start exploring some new roads more. I remember being with him on a trip when we were headed home from way northern MN and he decided to just basically follow his compass south and we took every new road we could. We ended up on a road that just turned into an old railroad bed, he had 4 wheel drive so that didn't stop us. When Peter and I were both in college in Iowa we and other friends went to a rural church. We tried every possible variance of route to get there. One time it took us through as little stream in a road that had no bridge. When I married Ken I was very happy to find that he also enjoyed exploring new roads. We explored much of South Eastern Iowa together. We still like to drive new ways, drive down a road just to see what is down it and also bike in various places. The kids love it!

  2. Have kids! Or just spend time with kids and enjoy learning together. You may have gotten tired of hearing a little kid say "Why?" (I know I have had my times!) but at the same time doesn't each "why?" make you wonder a bit too? Kids are very curious and if you let yourself you can re-learn from them how to be a little curious too.

  3. Homeschool! Homeschooling is perfect for encouraging curiosity. I could just spend times wondering about things but since I have little students to teach I feel like I need to find out the answers. Some examples in my life have been teaching various co-op classes about things like pioneers and colonial times different subjects I love to learn about but I wouldn't have pressed myself if I hadn't had a reason too. We also had a great time doing a fairly in depth study of the 50 states last year.
  4. Read! If you wonder about something, read about it. Try new books. Learn new things. I love to read! This year I want to stretch myself to read some books that I might not normally pick up.
  5. Use Google. It is amazing to me how quickly the Internet has become part of our lives. Just a couple of years ago I would have had to look through books, asked other people (And I still do those things some of the time) but now if I have a quick question I can just google it! I love being able to find things out so quickly. Lately I have started to use Swagbucks and so now when I search for something I can even earn points which I then can redeem for gift cards. Being curious can help the budget! :-)
  6. Study! I am personally going to apply this to the Bible. This is an area I am curious in but I see how much I need to grow!! When I am teaching someone else (be it children or adults) I usually do a fair amount of study to make sure I can teach well. But on my own I am guilty of having a question about something and thinking that I need to study it and then I never get around to that. I really want to work at being more curious in this area!
  7. Take Classes! Are you interested in something? Sign up for a class to learn how. Last year we went to a class were we learned to make Native American pottery, A couple of years ago I started taking cello lessons because I wanted to learn. This next week Ken and I are planning on taking down hill skiing lessons because we have never done that before. Don't stop learning just because you are an adult. Another class I would like to take is how to make pottery using a wheel.
  8. Try new hobbies! My motto is to always try something once as long as it is legal, would please God and it looks interesting. Because of that motto I have a huge list of hobbies that I enjoy. I have fun though!
  9. Try new foods! Thursday suppers are our time for trying new foods. When we were studying the states we would do a recipe from that state. Soon we are hoping to do foods from different countries. This is not only fun but it allows you to find new favorites and helps the whole family to be more open about foods. When we go out to eat I usually try to order something I haven't had before.
  10. Be interested in People. It is amazing what you can learn if you are willing to listen to others. (Now if I could just learn to be quiet!!) Speaking of listening to others, I would love if you would share your two cents in the comments!

Those are some of the ways that I am curious, what about you? What do you love to learn about or try new?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Super Saving Saturday

This was my very fun grocery trip to one of our local stores this week.
They had a deal going were if you would buy 10 various (out of a list) General Mills items then you could get 4 dollars off (with a store coupon). I figured there must be some way to get a good deal with using the store and manufactures coupons so I set to work to find out.

I was able to find $.60 off coupons for Chex Mix which were on sale for .99. (I had one coupon already and then had access to 2 computers so I could print 4 more.)

*There are also $1 coupons available (check on Money Saving Mom) , but I couldn't get them to print. Emily did and was able to get a really great deal.*

Another of the items listed on the $4 coupon were Progresso soup which was on sale 2/$3. I was able to print out 4 coupons for $1.10 each.

I ended up buying 6 Chex Mix and 4 soups and payed .54 cents for those items.

I did also buy a 12 double roll pack of toilet paper which was on sale for $5.49 and I had a $1 off coupon for. And I bought oranges which were .58 cents a pound.

My total was $7.21.

As far as my goal of spending only $150 this month this is my new total:

Spent first week in February: $74.58
Shopping trip above: $7.21
Milk from Dairy: $15.00
TOTAL: $96.79

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Frugal Valentine Ideas

We are getting excited about Valentine's Day around here. The kids are thinking about cards and notes and the sweets that usually come with the day. I have been dreaming about how I can make the day extra special to show my husband how much I love him and also share some love with the kids.

Our Valentines days are generally pretty frugal but that doesn't make them any less fun. I thought I would share some things we have done to make it special and also some links that I have come across with fun ideas or pictures.

  • Have fun decorating! I enjoy bringing out anything with a heart shape, stuff in red, candles and then cut out paper hearts to add about the room.
  • Make heart shaped pancakes for Breakfast and top with red berries or syrup. My kids love shaped pancakes and they really aren't that hard to make if you aren't looking for perfection. Ken and I enjoy pancakes too.
  • Have fun dressing up for the day. We enjoy doing stuff like wearing red and pink and so forth. It makes the day seem more special.

  • Leave notes! My family really enjoys this. One year at Valentines Day I put notes all over the house labeled with the recipients name. Everybody thought it was a lot of fun. Little notes actually have a long history in Ken and my relationship. When we were engaged he had asked me to mend his Bible case and I sent it back with notes in all the different pockets. He really enjoyed that and then later in our marriage when I had to be out of town I came home to notes all over the house. Notes are a great time to share things you love about your spouse (or your child), things you might not say otherwise.
  • Homemade cards are always frugal and can be extra special if you put some thought and time into them.
  • As part (or all) of the gifts we give we often give candy. Now that I have learned how to coupon shop I can stock up on candy and other fun treats much more cheaply. Last year I saved a heart shape candy box (a Reese's one) that Ken gave to me and I plan on redoing it to put some candy that he like in.

  • One of Ken's favorite desserts is Cheese Cake so that is often part of our Valentine's day as I will make a heart shaped cheese cake.

There are so many simple but fun ways to make the day special. Here are some links to other fun ideas:

For more frugal tips (I noticed that Crystal wrote about Valentines day as well) visit Biblical Womanhood.

Alphabet Bingo

My sister Martha made this alphabet game and sent it to my kids. We played it today and they thought it was lots of fun! For Aaron it was a major learning experience as we haven't worked on letters a whole lot yet. Sometimes he would know what letter the sound came from but often not. And he can't recognize all the letters yet but he was getting better as the game went on. It was also helpful for Jonathan as sometimes he struggles with what sound goes with what vowel.

Though this game would be pretty economical to make (Martha used cardstock in a variety of colors but you wouldn't have to be that fancy) and not all that hard it can provide many hours of good educational fun.

To make the game you have bingo cards with a grid drawn on them and the letters in each box. (the C and K share a box for the hard C sound.) One grid of letters is cut up to make letters to draw and then call. To win the player must get either 5 in a row or fill each corner and the middle.

Thanks Aunt Martha for a fun new activity!! I thought this project fit nicely for "thrifty green Thursday" as it is thrifty and can also be very green when you use what you have to make a simple but fun game!
Have you made any homemade games (or had one given to you like us) ? I would love to hear your ideas.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Fun Free Activities

Amy, at the Motherload, who was the one who started the no spend challenge for February asked us to share what we are doing while not spending money. February has actually been a pretty busy month for us so far and basically everything has been free. Here are some of the fun activities we have enjoyed:

  • We invited over a bunch of people for snacks and Superbowl watching (or visiting as was my case!) after church on the first. We had a good time of fellowship.

  • On Monday evening we were invited over. along with many others, to a church family's house for supper and a game of Broomball. It was below zero that evening (if I remember right) and when I first went out to play I thought my lungs were going to freeze but after a lot of active play I was quite warmed up and even felt quite hot. It was a lot of fun and great exercise! The picture below shows some of us that played (those who were still outside at the end of the game). You might notice Ken's (top right) and Matt's (top left) beards, they were looking quite old from all the frost that had gathered.

  • Going to church. We go on Sundays (am and pm) and Wednesdays. It is always a great time of learning and fellowship. Many of our closest friends are at church so it is a fun time for socializing. The kids also have special classes that are very fun for them. Church of course is "free" and it is a great way for us to spend our time.

  • Saturday morning we went to a ladies tea at the church building. Each of us brought some food so that there wasn't a great expense for anybody. We had a good time visiting and also Mary prepared some thoughts on hospitality and prayer. We looked up some verses too and also had a Bible trivia game. A fun time was had by all. Below are Tomisha and I and our "babies".

  • On Saturday as well, Ken and the older kids enjoyed a free activity at Home Depot. Every first Saturday of the month from 10-1, Home Depot offers a project time for kids. They have kits that they give them, provide tools and are there to give advice if needed while the parents help the kids make things. We hadn't gone for a couple of years but Mara had remembered it when we shopped there last and so she put it on the Calendar. They all (Ken too) had quite a fun time working at Home Depot. Mara made a cute little box and the boys made book ends with football helmets on them. We are hoping to make it a monthly activity. They sent pictures of the upcoming projects and some of them look pretty neat. We don't really need 3 of each but I think they might work well to use as presents.

  • On Saturday afternoon we went to a Birthday party for a 95 year old friend of ours. Ula has been such an inspiration to us and it was fun to see her celebrate her 95th. She is still doing well and I would guess in 5 years we will be celebrating her 100th.

  • Sunday noon after church we enjoyed a fellowship dinner at the church building. We have fellowship dinners on the 2nd Sunday of every month. I think they are always fun. We each bring food to share and then enjoy having a large selection of food to choose from AND enjoy visiting with others in the Body of Christ while we eat. The church here has some pretty good cooks so the food is pretty yummy.

  • Last night we enjoyed another free activity and that was going to a Symphony Orchestra concert. Our new international friend, Su Hyun from South Korea was playing in it. It was a special Valentines day concert (one of the special free ones each year, most concerts cost) and so Ken and I went while the kids went to spend time with Grandpa and Grandma. We also ended up meeting up with Mathew and Emily there which was fun. Above is a picture of Emily and I with Su Hyun after the concert.
  • We have also enjoyed playing games together as a family several times, and sometimes just Ken and the boys. We have a well stocked game cupboard and we truly put them to use.
  • Another fun thing we do (which is normal for us) is simply eat our meals as a family. We eat every meal together (though Ken is not with us for lunch on Weekdays) and it is such a nice time to connect with each other and share ideas, learn from each other and share funny stories. We love getting to enjoy great conversations discussing things like how to make a pedal powered airplane (Jonathan's idea which we got all figured out over supper) and stuff like that.

This has been a fun and busy month and all without spending money on the activities. That truly works for me!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Notecard giveaway winner

Sorry I didn't get this done as soon as I had planned but I have now randomly chosen a winner and it was: Faithful Reader ggiancardini.

I hope you enjoy using the note cards!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Shopping fun

Yesterday I did my monthly shopping trip to Wal*mart. Before I go I usually look through my coupons and see if I have any high ones to check and I also like to visit Money Saving Mom's Wal*mart section. Above are some of the deals that I snagged this month.

~The Starkist tuna pouches were 93 cents each. I had 4 $1 off coupons which had come in the mail from Vocal Point. I made 7 cents each on them.

~The frozen peas were $1.28 a bag. I had a $1 off 2 coupon. For a total of $1.56 for both of them.

~ The Kotex were $1 each. I had 2 $1 off coupons making them free.

~The South Beach Living Granola Bars were $2.60 each. I had 2 $2 off coupons making them 60 cents each. Thinking back on this, it still wasn't that great of deal but they are fun for a treat and will work well to take on some upcoming trips.

That wasn't all that I bought at Wal*mart but it is what I had fun using coupons on.

This month I am trying to keep all expenses under $150. I did have to do a bit of spending on groceries this first week but I am hoping to keep it pretty low from here on. Here is the spending I have done so far in February:

~Walgreens: $6.76
~Dairy Farm: $15
~Grocery Store: $2.97
~Walmart: $49.85
TOTAL: $74.58

I am looking forward to making sure I only spend $75 for the rest of the month. It is nice it is a short month! :-)

Friday, February 6, 2009

No Spend Challange

This month over at The MotherLoad they are having a No Spend month for February. I decided to join in for the fun of it. To be honest when I hear "No Spend" I think "no spending!" Period. But as that is fairly impossible in our day in age with electric bills, insurance, etc. All of the No Spend challenges are usually concerning spending less and majorly restricting your spending. Not spending money on a bunch of wants, only taking care of the needs.

Here is my goal for this month:
I will only spend $150. (This is just what I will be spending, not Ken as this sort of challenge is not really his style.) With this money I will take care of our groceries, household expenses (like toilet paper, etc.), gas for the van and anything else we might need. (There will be no clothes buying or things like that.) It should be rather fun! In December I did this same challenge except had the goal of only $100 spent. I ran into some troubles but overall it went pretty well.

Here are some reasons I like a challenge like this and think it can help in our goal to live frugally:

  1. It makes saving fun! I like a challenge or a game and setting a goal for our spending makes all of the budgeting and shopping turn into one big game.
  2. I learn to think outside of the box. It is quite possible that during this "game" I will learn some new frugal method that I really like and can keep using. Here are some of the things I learned in December.
  3. I can have more to share with others and I can also learn how to relate to others better that don't have as much. Because I was wanting to be able to support our church and missionaries better I proposed to Ken that all I saved on our food budget (our alloted budget is $325 a month) we would give away. He was agreeable and we did that last year and I am looking forward to doing that again this year.

Have you ever taken a no spend challenge? I would love to hear about your experiences and the things you learned!!

I will plan on posting regularly about how our lack of spending is going as well as the fun things we can do without spending money.

On another note be sure not to miss a Notecard Giveaway here on my blog until this evening. I will be drawing a name tonight.

For more frugal tips visit Biblical Womanhood.


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