Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Floral Fun

 Last month I was totally enjoying the flowers that were blooming (I still am enjoying the flowers!) and had some fun making floral projects as well. Here are some of the projects I made and had fun giving away.
 Above it a beaded flower barrette that I made. It is pretty fun and simple to make stuff from beads when you use wire. Just thread the beads on and twist them into whatever shape you want. Then I sewed it onto a barrette that I had covered with red ribbon.
 I made more note cards. All of these were made using various paper scraps and me heart punch and glue.
Tote bags are easy and fun to make and pretty useful to have so I enjoy making them for gifts. I love using a flower to dress it up a bit.

  What have you been making lately?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

"How blessed is everyone who fears the Lord,
who walk in His ways.
When you shall eat of the fruit of your hands,
You will be happy and it will be well with you."
Psalm 128:1 & 2

I am not going to say a lot today. I just wanted to share this neat promise the God gives us in His word. What a  great one it is!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Some easy clothing remakes

One original t-shirt and one that I have already cut.
 This week I was needing to make some girls undershirts. I had decided to go to my box of old (stained or for some other reason gotten rid of) t-shirts where I figured I would find some material that I could use that would make a comfortable undershirt.

   I found some small white boys undershirts that made my sewing job even easier! They were several sizes to small which worked well as we wanted the undershirt on the fitted side. I simply took them and cut off the sleeves, cut the neckline down and on one of them I cut some of the length off of the bottom. On the other two I simply folded the hem up one more time and stitched it. The pictures will give you an idea of how I cut them. Though with hindsight- I cut two of them with a rounded neck and one of them I cut with a v-neck and we like the v-neck one best.
The lines I used to cut this one out. I also cut off some length.
 After cutting them out I simply hemmed all the edges (I used various decorative stitches and thread colors to make them more girly) and then we put a little rosebud or bow on the middle of the front of each one. It was a quick and easy project and it was free! Faster than shopping for them too!
The finished undershirts.
 We decided to make Megan a slip as well. For that I found a woman's t-shirt in the box which I cut at the top basically the same way as the undershirts and then I did cut the side seams down as well, tapering them a little and then sewing them back together. I added lace to the bottom of the slip to make it a bit longer. We hemmed the neckline and the sleeves like the undershirts and again added a little rosebud to make it pretty!
A slip for Megan
Those are some of my recent remakes- have you done any sewing lately?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Dragonfly Soaps {Review and Giveaway}

   I think I have a new indulgence. It is homemade natural soaps. A while back I won some homemade goats milk soap on a blog giveaway and I just loved it. Not to long ago I became aware of Dragonfly Soaps and they agreed to let me do a review and giveaway here on my blog. I got to choose 2 of their soaps that they sent to me so that I could try them out and I am totally loving these soaps too! They are so much more fun to use than the ones you can buy at a big box store!

Oatmeal Almond Scented Soap
   When I went to Dragonfly Soaps website it was so much fun to browse through all their different varieties! They have some that they call "Almost Edibles" and I would love to try everyone in that category (except perhaps the Fisherman's Lure as it is geared for men and I don't do much fishing).  I did request the Chai Soap and I love the smell of it. When I was using it in the shower last night it made me crave a cup of Chai tea so bad that I was almost tempted to dissolve some and try drinking it. :-) Using it in the shower smelled just like sipping a steaming cup of Chai Tea. 

Peppermint Ice Scented Soap
I would love to try this one too!
Another category of soaps that they have is called "Mysterious and Earthy Scents". We decided to try Forest Floor from this category. It is called the naturalists soap of choice which is fitting as I got it for Mara and she is definitely turning into a little naturalist. When we went to the state park the other day she had a wonderful time visiting with the naturalist there (and he was impressed with her knowledge of plants) and decided that maybe she could be a part time naturalist in addition to being an author. Back to the soap.... I actually got it for Mara as it said the antiseptic oils in it are said to be helpful to troubled skin. Mara has trouble with eczema and we are always looking for things that will help. She said that she liked using it and I know I thought it smelled pretty good!

Dragonfly Soaps also has categories "Lavenders and Flowers", "Workhorse Soaps" and "Unscented". I think I would enjoy trying any of their soaps.

Some other info about Dragonfly Soaps that I thought was neat were:
  • All soap is handcrafted in small batches.
  • The colourings and scents are from herbs, clays, chlorophyll, spices, flowers, seeds, mineral pigments or essential oils.
  • They use oils that nourish the skin.
  • They try to reuse and recycle with their packaging as well as their soap trimmings, etc.
Would you like to try some Dragonfly Soaps?

  They are letting me give away 3 bars of soap to 2 different people (6 bars in all)!

  So.... If you would love to win and try some dragonfly soap go ahead and comment here.
In your comment please:
  • Tell me what 3 bars you would want should you win. Go to their website to make a selection.
  • Make sure to leave an e-mail address so that I can contact you should you win.
This giveaway is open to everyone worldwide!
The giveaway will end on July 8th so be sure to enter before then.

The winners are: Becky R and Twinkle Toes. Congratulations! I hope you enjoy them as much as we are.

I received soap at no cost to me for purposes of reviewing. I was not required to write a positive review and I was not in any other way compensated for writing this review.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Happy Summer to you!

The Showy Lady Slipper- Our state flower
 We celebrated the first day of summer by....
 Enjoying radishes out of our garden. The kids had been craving radish sandwiches and we had plenty to supply that desire!
Going on a fun (and RAINY!) walk at the state park with a naturalist and some other homeschooling friends. We walked out into the bog (they have a nice boardwalk through it) and saw all sorts of wonderful plants including the showy lady slippers that are pictured above.

Going shopping and getting supplies for a couple of fun trips that we have planned. The shopping was a little exhausting (I don't think shopping has ever been very recreational for me) but it is nice to have it done and have found some things we needed.

 It was a fun start of summer! I hope your summer started well too and that you have a blessed one!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fathers {A Role specially planned by God}

   I hope you all had a wonderful day celebrating Fathers! We had a good day and I was blessed to be able to spend much of it with both my father and the father of my children as well as some other fathers that I appreciate and admire. I am so very blessed to not only have a Heavenly Father who loves me and takes care of me but I also have some pretty neat human fathers in my life. I know that is not the case with everybody and I am extremely grateful!

   My Dad has always been there for me, he has been a huge inspiration in so many areas of my life. He (and Mom- they are a team!) taught me to love God, to love life, to love to learn and to be happy and content with who I am and what I have. But as my sister and I were fondly (now!) remembering last week, Dad did more than just take care of us in fun and easy ways. He also worked to train us and he did discipline us when necessary. My sister was remembering how she would burst into tears at his scolding and I was recalling the raps on the head when I didn't behave in church. Dad's goal wasn't just to have kids that thought he was great and fun, he wanted to help us to grow up to be good and useful members of society. I am thankful to my Dad for that.

 Thinking about fathers reminded me of these verses in Hebrews 12:

   " 4 You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; 5 and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,


7 It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. 11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. "

  I don't know that these verses are easy ones, thinking about discipline at the time it is happening or before it is happening isn't easy. But when we realize how we can respect and love and trust our earthly father and I hope we will realize how much more reason we have to do that with our Heavenly Father!

 I think these are some good growing verses!


Friday, June 17, 2011

Easier hauling on my bike

I had mentioned earlier that we are trying to do a lot of biking this summer instead of driving whenever possible. The hard thing about biking is that you can't haul stuff as easily as in a vehicle. We had managed to haul somethings using our trailer, bike racks, pannier bags and baskets but I was still wanting something more. I particularly wanted a very stable place to haul milk (in glass jars) as my parents usually bring us goats milk and give it to us when we are at church.
My solution that worked very well and didn't cost me a penny was to attach (using zip ties) a plastic crate (that I have had for years but only used now and then) to the top of my bike rack. We were able to pack the milk and eggs and other stuff into it carefully and it worked great for transporting it. When we go on bike trips I will probably take it off so that I can use my pannier bags easier but for short term hauling it works very well!

This might not be the most stylish way of biking but I guess I am more interested in practicality!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Trying to save our strawberries

 Our project today was with the mission of keeping the chipmunks out of the strawberries. This has been our battle for several years and so far we have lost but this year we are going to greater lengths than ever before. Sometimes I feel a little silly- we are spending money, spending time and it really would be easier (and cheaper!) to just buy a few strawberries at the store instead.

But..... We want our own and at this point we really would like to win! So today we made a cover for the strawberry patch. After finishing it we can see some issues with it and so Ken has a new idea for basically a little screen house (more work and expense I am sure) but hopefully our screen will work for now.

It was so nice to have some great helpers for this project!
 Jonathan was happy to get busy and do some unrolling, cutting, attaching it together, nailing boards on and pounding of stakes.
 Aaron held the screen in place (a little wearily) and helped with pounding in a stake and moving the screen in place.
 Mara and Megan helped with tieing it together and putting it in place. We ended up having to wait for Ken to come home to actually get it in the garden as we had made it outside the fence and it was rather akward to move around.
And the finished product (until Ken fixes it into something better)! I hope the chipmunks stay out! We are looking forward to some yummy strawberries.

Monday, June 13, 2011

A tour of our 1 acre+ Homestead

Six years ago this month we moved into our home. Though we were happy with the place we had found it was in reality a pretty drab place. The house was a white house with grey doors (I think they had never been painted so they were just primer) and black/grey shingle and around the front of the house there were a bunch of grey landscaping rocks with three large boulders. The lawn was very uncared for (scraggly and some places it was dead) but there were several nice trees. Besides the trees and rocks there was no other landscaping done. Inside all the walls were painted cream and the carpets were once cream but were stained. The basement was unfinished. Don't get me wrong- we were very happy with the place we had found because not only would it work for then but also we could see potential.

 After 6 years it is fun to look back and see the progress that has been made into making this place into a home. What we have done did not happen the first year nor are we done with the fixing up. Slowly but steadily we are trying to turn this place into a home that is useful and beautiful for us.

  I thought today it would be fun to take you on a tour of the outside of our house. So here we go....

The top picture is our house as you see it coming down our lane (or driving by one way on the road) . I painted the doors brown and we also reshingled the roof with brown shingles (Ours had gone bad prematurely so we were able to get money through the warranty to replace them.)
  We also removed all the little rocks from the landscaped area, we laid down weed barrier cloth, planted some flowers and shrubs and put down mulch. The plants here are mainly for decoration and to feed the bees and hummingbirds. I did also plant some blueberry bushes and lingonberry plants here but they haven't actually done that well.
 Above is our view of the yard (to the southwest of our house) when you come out our front door. The grass still isn't perfect but generally it looks pretty green and nice. Ken installed a sprinkler system (which might not be totally necessary here in MN but Ken grew up in Nevada and was used to having one there and it has been nice) as well as outdoor faucets by the garden and also on the other side of the yard for ease in watering trees and washing up outside.

 On the far edge of the lawn above we planted a line of lilac bushes. We were able to get a bunch of small plants from a friend. They haven't started blooming yet but we are hoping some of them will next year! On the other side of the lilac bushes is a line of trees and in that line up we planted a couple of cherries and apple trees. After the trees there is a little slope that goes down to the garden.
On the slope I am working on planting a lot of perennials, wildflowers and herbs. I have a lot going but am continually adding new ones. I really, really prefer flowers that come back year after year!

One that I love, and that is blooming abundantly this year, is Iris. I haven't purchased any iris but a couple of friends have cleaned out their patches and offered me a bunch of bulbs and I gladly said "Yes!".

Down from the little flower slope is our garden. Ken fenced it in for me as it is not uncommon for us to have deer wander through our yard and they like to eat tasty garden stuff. This end of the garden faces the road. Along the end I have another bunch of irises. In our garden I use carpet strips to make some of the paths and also newspaper covered with pulled weeds. Both of the things help to keep the weeds at bay. Another thing that I have started using to help prevent weeds is black tarps that we were able to get free from the lumberyard my brother works at. We lay them down (and weight it down so it doesn't blow away) and then cut holes to plant tomatoes, peppers, melons, cucumbers, cabbage and broccoli and more through.

This is a picture of the garden from the other end. On this end we have our compost bin (made from pallets), a couple of apple trees (one it pretty tiny in the circle of rocks and the other is in the corner that got cut off the picture), a grape vine, the strawberry bed, my main herb garden, Mara's flower bed (in the corner at the front of the picture around the apple tree), Megan's little garden, a few raspberry bushes and some rhubarb plants that aren't doing well. Writing that list makes me realize that we have squished quite a bit in a little bit of space!

 Over by the end of the garden that I just showed you is Clover's House (our rabbit), the sandbox and the tree fort. The picture above is taken from the lane and you can see the tree fort and sandbox off in the distance. We also have a rocker (see-saw sort of thing) that my brother made from an old electric spool.

 Our deck goes off the east side of our house. Below it we store kids' bikes and our trailer. On it we grill and I try to keep some potted plants. The one in the corner is some strawberries. Going down the stairs from our deck you can see our fire pit where we like to cook outside and our bee yard

 Turning the corner to go on the North side of our house is where I have tied up clothesline in between trees. Someday I think it would be fun to have a regular clothesline but this certainly works for now. Along this northern wall of our house is a bank of Lilies of the Valley. Friends gave me these plants and they have spread really well. They bloomed like crazy this year and it smelled so good around them! I loved opening our bedroom window and we could smell them in our room too.

 Beyond the Lily of the Valley, on the back side of the garage, are some hostas. They are doing very well on this northern side as well. I had found some of these to buy at a garage sale (some pretty small plants) and then a friend was getting rid of hers and gave me some more.

This is the view of the West side of our house and garage (in between our house and the road). In this area we have planted some small pine trees (that we were able to dig from my parents acreage) and I recently added some plum trees. This area is one were we would like to add even more trees in an effort to have a little more privacy from our road. I am also considering making a bit of a "hill" in this area, mostly because some of the trees that were already here were dug around leaving them with just little mounds of dirt around their roots. I would like to raise the dirt in general and then plant more things (like blueberry bushes) up on the mound. We are also thinking it would be fun to add a white picket fence along the road side of our property.
 Along the west end of the garage I also have another perennial flower bed. There are a lot of blues and lavender in it which I love though later on there will be more colors. I have also added some herbs in here as well.

Well that concludes my tour of our place. Thinking about all that has been done makes me dream about all the more we (With God's help!) could do. I love to think about more ways to make our place a little more productive so that we could do more "living off the land". What do you think you would add if you had our place?

Linking to Homestead Revival

Sunday, June 12, 2011

What are we working towards?

  "But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction." 1 Timothy 6:9 (The context of the whole chapter is great!- I encourage you to read it.)

 This verse has crossed my path several times lately. It has made me stop and think. I can't say that I have ever desired to be "rich" (isn't that word rather hard to define!?!) but at the same time both Ken and I like to work hard and in our businesses our goal is to do a good job and be successful. (Though to me being successful doesn't mean having tons and tons of work- I have a limit in mind and don't plan on going over it at this point in my life.)

  Reading this verse has made me wonder- Are we doing this right? Is my attitude in line with this verse? Is my work done in order to please God and live more fully for Him or is it to make myself look good? I am still examining myself and striving to have a godly attitude in this- I thought I would share it with you as well.

Another verse that goes along with this one is:
 "Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, cease from your consideration of it." Proverbs 23:4

Loving Surprises!

This morning Ken had scheduled a guy to come over and help take care of a mold problem we were having. Meanwhile I left to deliver flowers to a wedding. I came back to find the guy working in my living room instead of the entryway. Ken had asked him (to surprise me) to clean our living room carpet as well.

 In case you haven't heard me mention it before our living room carpet WAS (not is anymore!) gross. We have tried to clean it with rental units and spot cleaning etc. It is cream colored and has been stained ever since we moved here and we have just made it worse. It is not quite perfect yet but it is very close especially compared with what it was. It is so fun to have clean carpet!!! That was an area where I had struggled with discontent for a while but you know, it hasn't bothered me that much for the last year or so thanks to God's work in my heart but I am still enjoying and very thankful for it looking nice now!

   I am blessed to have a very thoughtful husband!

Telling about that surprise reminded me that I never posted this picture of my lovely Mother's Day Surprise. The kids got up early and made really yummy muffins and then brought me breakfast in bed- though I had already gotten up and dressed and was doing my hair to they let me come upstairs and eat with them. I loved their sweet planning and thoughtfulness. Ken had also bought me a bouquet of Irises which are a favorite of mine.

  I think surprises are lovely.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Bringing a little bit of nature inside

I don't know about you but I really really enjoy all the beauty in nature that God has made. In my mind there is nothing that fixes up and decorates my house any better than bringing some of that natural stuff inside (and then having a bunch of big windows to see out of too).

  In the Spring and Summer some of my more obvious choices of things to bring in are flowers. I do grow flowers but we also enjoy picking many wildflowers from our woods or the ditches on our road. God made an amazing variety of flowers from teeny tiny to really big and they are fun to bring inside to enjoy.

  You don't need to be a trained professional to be able to have pretty vases of flowers in your house. Just put them in a vase in the way that looks nice to you. Some general guidelines are to put your tallest flowers in the middle, and then gradually work down to shorter flowers around the edge. If you are doing a mixed arrangement try to balance big and small flowers so not all of one kind are on one side.
Here are some additional tips for having healthy and good looking arrangements:
  • Pick your flowers in the morning before they get dried out from the heat of the day.
  • Use something to cut the stems rather than just breaking them if possible.
  • Put them in water right away.
  • Look for interesting greenery to add to the flowers.
  • Make sure to not have leaves in the water (pull off leaves that are low on the stems) as they will rot and make the bouquet go bad and smell bad.
  • Regularly (every day or two) give them fresh water and re cut the end of the stems.
 Vases are pretty easy to find at garage sales or thrift stores but you can also use jars, glasses, pretty pitchers, can and basically anything that holds water to put your flowers in.

If you don't have an abundance of flowers and for times when flowers aren't blooming some other natural things that we have enjoyed decorating with are: Pine cones, seed pods, fruits and veggies, shells, pretty rocks, nests that were abandoned, pretty greenery on it's own and feathers.
The vase above is currently sitting on our table and I had a picture of it with our yummy breakfast treat from yesterday.  If you like to make bread you might enjoy doing what we like to do and that is take some of the dough to make fry bread with. You simply pull it in a flat section and deep fry it and then we like to eat it with honey. I also used some of my dough yesterday to make balinas which are prunes covered with bread dough and fried, then roll them in sugar. A simple but yummy treat! 

  Those are some of the frugal ways I have enjoyed fixing up my home lately!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Imagination Station books {Review and Giveaway}

 The kids and I were excited to receive books 3 and 4 in the Imagination Station Series. (If you would like to read what we thought of books 1 & 2 and read about the authors click here.) Book 3 is called Peril in the Palace and in it Patrick and Beth visit China and the great Kublai Khan. They also get to spend some time with the Polos. It is a very entertaining as well as educational read. The 4th book is called Revenge of the Red Knight and it takes us to a time of kings and kingdoms and knights and ladies in England. This book seems to finish up the series in one way but then makes you think there will probably be more adventures soon.

   The Authors Marianne Hering and Paul McCuster and doing a good job of introducing (because that is what this is- just an introduction not a ton of facts) kids to history in a very fun and readable manner. As soon as the books arrived in the mail Jonathan had his nose stuck in them and read them several times. Later I read them outloud to all of the kids and we enjoyed them.

  We especially enjoyed looking in book four- not just because of the story but we had fun looking at the front pages where they have recommendations of the book written by people like me. In fact, they did quote me. After we had gotten the first books I had wrote and told the company that had sent them to me for review and I told them how much Jonathan was enjoying them. They asked if they could use my quote in the next books and I said sure. So that was fun for us to see something about us in the book.

Would one of you like to win books 3 and 4? Well one of you can!

If you would like to win just leave a comment on this post telling me your favorite way to learn or teach history. Please make sure as well that you leave an e-mail address or make sure your e-mail address is in your profile. If I don't have a way to contact you than you cannot win.

This giveaway will close on June 15th.
The giveaway is limited to those in the US and Canada. 

  Disclaimer: I was sent these books for free and was not required to write a positive review.  

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Project time Tuesday

 Other than working on doing the hand quilting on our quilt (and arranging flowers) I haven't worked on many inside projects lately. My time has been very much concentrated on gardening and a little beekeeping too. But I hadn't gotten around to writing about some of the things I made for a silent auction in early May so here are some pictures of projects I had fun doing then.

 ~A set of cards.  I had a bunch of fun using my heart and paisley punch and then some various scrap paper (It was all stuff recycled from other things) to make flowers with and I glued them on simple cardstock cards.
 I also made a stationary set with stamps. The box they are in was actually one of my "dumpster diving" finds from one of our trips to the university after school was done for the summer.
 A garden kit. I had been given the peat pots from a gardener friend that didn't care for them. I discovered I didn't like that much either and there were still a couple of unopened packages. I also potted some plants and added some gloves that I bought on sale for 25 cents. I cost me pretty much nothing to put together but raised some money.
My breakfast kits was a big hit at the silent auction. It included: A pancake mix, granola, coffee buns, maple syrup and jam all made by me as well as a little package of coffee.

All of the projects raised money and they were fun for me to make/ put together. It was fun to see that people did really like them and made me think that gifts like that might be appreciated.

Have you been working on any projects lately?


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