Sunday, March 31, 2013

Praise the Lord!

"Praise the Lord in song,
for He has done excellent things;
Let this be known throughout the earth."
Isaiah 12:5
I am feeling so thankful for all God has done for us, most importantly sending His son to earth to die for us and then rise again!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Getting around in the Springtime

 Spring truly arrived this week and are we ever enjoying it!

 We actually had a puddle in our driveway this week. I noticed it first and mentioned it to the kids and pretty soon there were children out playing in it. :-) I have so many good memories of playing in puddles so I love seeing my kids have that fun as well. We don't get a lot of puddles around our place as there is a slope to our land and we have quite sandy soil. That is nice for not having a mess for a long time but it means that they need to seize the day and play in them while they are around.
 They had fun digging channels and making rivers and bigger lakes and such until they had effectively drained all the water away. At that point they headed inside thinking that they could take buckets of water outside to keep there rivers running. However at that point I became the party pooper mother who said they needed to be content with what was already out there.

  On Thursday we went to visit some friends who have been wanting us to come for months (but one or the other of us always seemed to be sick or busy) to go sledding. We figured that is was basically now or not this year if sledding was going to happen. We went and had a great time together.

 On Friday we went over to my parents to help get the maple trees tapped for the season. I always love the maple syruping process! It is so much fun to get out in the woods on these early Spring days! Going over to visit was extra fun as my sister Martha and her family had just arrived from North Carolina. We loved being able to spend time with them.
I mentioned that I love to get out in the woods but I failed to say what a challenge that is currently! The snow is still up above my knees in most parts of the woods. Walking up and down the hills is quite a workout! Since walking was a bit difficult various other methods of transportation were tried.
I looked up once from my plodding along to see Mara and Martha crawling through the woods on top of the snow (for the most part) while hauling big 5 gallon buckets. It was rather humorous. If you look closely in the photo above you can see Mara crawling in the distance.

 I did try the crawling some as well but that had it's own trials like when your hand suddenly would fall way down into the snow and you would land practically with your face in the snow.

 Dad went around with snowshoes which worked fairly well but he was the only one that had a pair.

Since Dad could make a bit of a trail with his snowshoes quite a few followed along behind him, hauling buckets and helping out. (We had a good crew of workers as my parents were there, my sister Martha, my sister-in-law Molly Bea, 7 cousins, our friend and their neighbor- Benjamin as well as myself. All that help wasn't really needed but it was fun for us all to get out and enjoy Springtime in the woods together.
 In the picture above Martha tried another method of getting around - simply scooting down the hill on her behind.
 Aaron tried rolling his bucket and then rolling himself behind it. That worked fairly well except he and the bucket didn't always go exactly the same direction and he found himself rolling in somewhat of a circle.
 Molly Ann also tried out rolling.

 Molly Bea attempted walking on a downed tree.
 I tried sliding down a hill on my bottom and Molly Bea was following behind me. None of our moving methods were very fast but we did have fun and got some good exercise and I can hardly wait until we have sap ready to boil down and can taste maple syrup again!
Today we tried out some faster transportation as our road and lane are now all melted off and we got out the bikes. What fun!

 Are you enjoying Spring? What is going on at your home?

I am linking this to

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Cleaning out my e-mail inbox clutter

 Last summer and before that I had troubles dealing with my e-mail inbox. Between my business, my homeschool group, various organizations I am involved with, blog readers, family and friends and spam - I had a lot of e-mails coming in. And for some reason I tended to find all of it a little overwhelming. It wasn't that way when I first started using e-mail but as time went on the quantity built up and I struggled to deal with it.

   It was something I was feeling a little guilty about (and I don't like that feeling!) because I felt bad about not getting back to people right away but yet I was feeling overwhelmed with the situation so I didn't know how to get on top of it. Looking back now those feelings seem rather silly but it was truly a problem for me.

  However I am happy to report for several months now (basically starting last August) I have gotten my e-mail inbox under control and hopefully I will never feel overwhelmed by it again!

  I read some advice in a book (that I can't remember the name of ) that really helped me.

 The advice was - When you find time to look at an e-mail - don't just look at it and leave it in your inbox (something I used to do all the time!)- do something about it! His basic rules where: If the e-mail will take less than two minutes to deal with- do it right now! It is surprising how many fall in this category. I have also been forcing to make decisions more quickly about whether the e-mail really is anything that I am in interested in or not - and if it isn't then it quickly gets deleted!

If I can't just quickly delete it or take care of it (answer it, or dot something else) within the two minutes then I put it in the appropriate file. It either goes in ACTION which is basically a file that holds e-mails that I do need to do something about and when I do have time (hopefully at least once a week) then I tackle the e-mails in the action file. I also have a waiting file which holds things like receipts from things that I ordered online and that I am waiting to arrive. I also have various files that hold archives of e-mails (that I may need or want to look back to at sometime) which are filed according to writer or topic).

   This method has helped me considerably in keeping my inbox cleaned out! I no longer feel overwhelmed and for that I am very grateful!

  Another thing that I have worked to do it to unsubscribe from many things that I am not interested it. I can't catch all the spam but I have been able to get rid of some of it.

  Do you have any tips or ideas for cleaning out or organizing your inbox?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The words we speak

 I recently read "The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman (which I will probably blog about in more detail later) and Ken and I have been visiting about the contents of that book. Through our discussions I have come to realize that both of us highly value "Words of Affirmation". When somebody says "Good job" or whatever, it means a lot to us.

  So.... I am wanting to work to do a better job of saying things to Ken (either by speaking to him or by writing him notes) to make him realize how much I appreciate him, praise him for the things he does well and so on.

Thinking about using words reminds me of Proverbs 21:9 and how we DON'T want to be like this woman - It says: "It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife."

Let's use our words to edify our husbands instead of potentially making them prefer the idea of living on the roof rather then be near us! :-)

  If you joined me on the challenge of writing down something that you are thankful about your husband each day I am thinking that we can mention some of those things to our husband and how much we appreciate him for being that way.

 That is what I am working on in my marriage right now - I hope you are working on your marriages too!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Fixing up things in our bathroom

 Not long ago we had a bunch of company coming and I thought before they came it would be fun to figure out ways to fix up our bathroom a little better. In my fixing up I wanted to do it using things that we already had and not buying anything. I had fun with this project to I thought I would share about it on here.

One of the issues I really wanted to deal with was our towels. Most of them we have had our whole married life (and some from beyond that) and so they are a bit old but they still work just fine. I really didn't want to replace them as I don't like throwing out things that still work, I just wanted to figure out ways for them to look nicer.

  So I took out all our towels and I cut off hanging strings, I hemmed up some areas that had come undone, I worked to whiten some (which didn't go as well as I would have liked - I don't think I will ever buy white towels again) and then I had fun adding decorative touches that went along with my Daisy themed bathroom.

I added rick rack to some, fabric strips to others and then just some decorative stitching to others. It wasn't a big deal at all but I found it fun, and in my opinion it helped make things look a little more beautiful. 

And in the case of the one above I covered up the Christmas d├ęcor with white and yellow check that matched our bathroom.

I also took a towel or so that had to many problems (like holes) and I cut it up into washcloths. Those I finished of by zig-zagging around the edge.
I also decided to turn my little shelf into an apothecary shelf. I had recently stocked up on more medicinal herbs and didn't have a good place to keep them so I put them on this shelf along with some of my essential oils.
I think the Salsa jars that we get have a neat shape so I put the herbs in them, put a yellow label on them and then I painted the lids green. I am enjoying the look.

Another improvement I made was to make a new shower curtain. Our old one had served us well for years but it had a couple of tears in it (below).  I was blessed to have some fabric on hand (It came from my Grandma's fabric stash) that was rather slick and would work well as a shower curtain.

 I hemmed it up all around and then put in "buttonholes" on the top to slip my shower curtain rings through. I like having a fabric shower curtain now because it will wash easier than the old plastic curtain and it should last for a long time.

   For me this project of fixing up my bathroom was very fun. I was able to use things I have and make things a little prettier and a little better.

 Do you enjoy fixing things up? What have you been working on lately?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Frugally and Healthfully caring for our Skin, Hair and Teeth

    As the years have passed I have started to learn and try out more and more methods for natural body care. This has been a fun journey for me as I am able to use things that are healthy and natural and generally much cheaper too! They do require a little bit of work but it is very, very little and very infrequently (like making a batch of deodorant or lip balm) and actually the natural hair cleaning method saves me time each day.

 I thought it would be nice to collect the different things that I am doing all on one page so here they are:
I have been using homemade deodorant for two years now and I am completely happy with it! The link above goes to a recipe. This deodorant also doesn't cause pit stains the way some deodorants do.
I use baking soda and apple cider vinegar to care for my hair. I have done that for a couple years as well and I am so glad to not use shampoos anymore. As far as our children - Mara (13 years old) uses the same method I do and the younger ones rarely use anything but water on their hair. The boys' hair is very short and I had read for young children like Megan that products really aren't necessary. I think that it true as all of their hair looks clean and smells fine.
   For washing hands at the sink and the body in the shower I use bar soap. The reason being that the ingredients are more natural and their is no Sodium Laurel Sulfate which takes moisture out of the skin (and then causing you to have dry skin). My dream is to eventually make all of my own soap (and I do now have all the supplies on hand so I am making progress!) but for now if possible I get homemade soaps that others have made (I have been blessed to do reviews, win giveaways and have been able to barter for some local soaps - as unfortunately buying homemade soap is a little expensive - though I am a little willing to splurge in that area) or I buy bar soaps at the store.

I did also recently find a recipe for tooth powder which I think I might try next as we can harvest part of the ingredients from our own land. It is made from 3 parts oak bark powder (break up dried oak bark into small bits and grind finely. Strain out larger pieces. ), 1 part fennel seed powder, 1 part baking soda and 1 part cinnamon. That mixture is supposed to help with gum disease, weak gums, bleeding gums and mouth ulcers.
Diva Cup and Cloth Pads for Menstruation
I have used this for years now and I so like not having to create a lot of trash at that time of the month and being able to use things that don't have the possibility of creating life threatening health problems (like tampons). This also saves us a large chunk of money. 
Since I don't use soaps very often that have SLS in them anymore (unfortunately my dish soap does still have it as I can't seem to find a good natural substitute) I don't find myself needing much in the way of lotions but once and a while when I do I really like the lotion bars that we made ourselves. Our homemade lip balm has also worked very well.
 I think that is all the skin care products that I use as I don't use make-up or sun screen. Do any of the rest of you have any additional natural and frugal products that you use that you could tell us about?
I am linking this to the Homestead Barn Hop hosting by the Prairie Homestead and New Life on a Homestead

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Reflections of the Week

  I realized that I have been writing a lot more posts lately with lots of words and not a lot of pictures so I thought it would be fun (just because this is kind of a journal for me and because pictures are fun) to have a post that just has a bunch of pictures of life here. Here is some of the action around here this past week.

I had silk flowers to do for a wedding (usually I do fresh flowers which I prefer but occasionally I work with silk) and Megan had fun modeling them.
 Gymnastics around here. Aaron above and Megan below.

 I had fun making a Panamanian meal on Thursday since we had been studying Panama. Empanadas was the main course and I fried extra dough and sprinkled it with cinnamon and sugar for dessert. We made a yummy slushy drink with frozen raspberries.
 Jonathan writing a letter.
 I love hearing Mara practice.
 Baby goats are arriving at my parents farm and we had fun going out to visit there.

 Megan can spend hours in the goat pen.
 On Friday night Ken, Jonathan and I went skiing - the rest choose to play with baby goats instead. It was a beautiful day for skiing.
 Mom had a pretty fun carton of eggs of all sizes.
 Megan sewing a birthday present for Grandpa.
 My sister Keren testing out their piano after my brother-in-law Travis tuned it. This is now the second piano he has tuned (he found a free computer program to help him) and he did a good job.
 My sister Anna and her family came up to visit for the weekend and the cousins had fun playing together. They love being together.
 Saturday was Dad's birthday and Margaret (my niece) wrote a song that she played and sang for him.
Megan and Beatrice made him some gifts. I made a hat fun him that he is wearing. That was a fun project - he wears short billed welders hats all the time while he works and I am figuring out how to make them so he doesn't have to buy them anymore.

 God has blessed us with a wonderful week and to Him we say "Thank you!"

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Shining God's Light

The current section of scriptures that we are working on memorizing is the Sermon on the Mount starting in Matthew chapter 5. A few verses there that really speak to me are these:

 "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden: nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." Matthew 5:14-16

I think this teaching is so very important. Our goal in life should not be to spread our own ideas but rather to shine God's light so that He is glorified and praised. May we let His Holy Spirit which lives within us shine through us through the joy that we have, the love that we share and the peace that is ever abiding in our lives.
Jonathan skiing on Friday


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