Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A bag for April (About the simplest bag you can make)

I made a bag to "wrap" the birthday present for my niece yesterday. It is one that will also work nicely for her to use as a book bag or whatever else she likes. This type of bag is extremely simple to make. I will show you a quick pictorial tutorial.

First cut out a rectangle from fabric that is around 2 times as long as it is wide. I had been given a bunch of these that were already cut out and ready to make into bags. The lady they came from had cut the rectangle out of a cotton print and a heavy piece of upholstery fabric and then she had also sewed a little pocket  on it the size to fit a library card. That step of course is not needed. 
 Cut out some ribbon (or make handles out of something else) and sew them on as shown on each end. (Far enough from the end so that you can still hem it.)
 Put the right sides together and sew the side seams.
 Fold down the bottom corner as shown and sew across it and then cut off the corner. This allows you to have a flat bottom on your bag.
 Turn the bag right side out and sew a hem around the top.

That is it - you are now done! Very simply and easy. You can use bags like these for groceries, books, knitting, really whatever you want!


Monday, April 29, 2013

Happenings around our homestead

 We are really feeling in the homestead mode lately at our house. Here is a few of the reasons that we have been feeling that way:

 Our indoor tomato plants have been going to town with their growing. Ken is wondering if our big window is going to be completely covered soon. It has been quite fun to watch their amazing growth! The biggest one is blooming quite a bit now and we have been attempting to pollinate it but aren't quite sure if we did it right or not. I hope we did!

 I also have a lot of little seedlings up now. As always it is fun to watch them grow and dream about the garden. We still have a month before we can plant them outside but meanwhile they will grow in here.
 Now that much of the snow is gone it is time to start working on the chicken coop and run. The boys are very eager to work on it. They cleared the area we chose and have done some moving of dirt to make things a bit more level. They love that hard physical labor if it means something fun like animals! We aren't planning on getting the chicks until the middle of June but we will be ordering them (from a local place) quite soon. We are planning on getting 15 layers (well a couple of them will be roosters) to raise here and then we are ordering some broilers along with my parents that will be raised at their place. We thought about keeping some here but I wanted to take them to their place for butchering and Dad thought it would make the most sense for him to just raise the broilers.

If you raise chickens I am curious if you have a favorite layer breed? I think I have made my decisions in that regard but I certainly could be swayed. I am planning on getting a few different varieties and they need to do well in a cold climate.
Megan has really been enjoying reading lately. I love it when my kids hit that stage where they read about anything that they can get their hands on. Reading is so often the key to learning. (This one may not be so "Homestead" related but I thought it was a cute picture of a cute- though messy haired- girl and reading has definitely been very useful to us in learning how to be better homesteaders.
Mara did some cleaning up and weeding in our flower bed. She has been keeping her eye out for any wild plants. She has been reading up on wild food plants all winter and plans on collecting a bunch for us to try. I am pretty excited to have her be interested in that.

  I have finally been melting down and cleaning up the wax cappings from when I extracted honey in the fall. I want to make some more lip balm as well as use it for other things. The wax really has a delightful smell when it is heated! Because I had a couple of old frames of wax "explode" on me while they were in the extractor I have all of that wax too. There sure is a lot of impurities in with the wax!

  We have the arrival for our NUCs of Bees scheduled for this Friday. It will be fun to having busy bees around here once again!

  We have a tree/bush pick-up scheduled for the following Friday. This year we ordered a total of 50 trees and bushes from the county. They offer very economical local trees and bushes. I have ordered a lot of crap apples which Dad and I are going to graft good tree scions on and then I also ordered other local berries and some decorative trees and bushes as well.

  I sewed a skirt and a bag and made a flower barrette for my nieces birthday.

  I went out to my parents today to help with the maple syrupping process and then brought home some syrup which I canned this evening. So YUMMY!

Have you been enjoying any homesteading activities lately? I love to hear from you!


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Striving to be wise

Last week I spoke of my effort to not be so critical of others and I also mentioned that I find it hard to be criticized (though when it is done kindly I don't find it that hard - but I need to be willing to listen to all of it even when I don't care for it). I found it interesting that a day or so later I was reading to the kids from Proverbs and happened to read these verses:

 "He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself, and he who reproves a wicked man gets insults for himself. Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you, reprove a wise man and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser, teach a righteous man and he will increase his learning.
   The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." Proverbs 8:7-10

 My goal is to have wisdom. Part of being a wise person is being willing to listen to reproof and instruction. I hope that I will learn to always do that happily.

 Do you struggle to listen to criticism or reproof?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Wherein I try the art of Rosemaling

Decorated skis
    Next week we are having are last homeschool co-op for the school year (though we will still get together later in May for a potluck and program) and the theme for the month is Minnesota. This has been a very fun theme to develop as there are so many cool and interesting things about our state. We decided that this month the adults/parents would have various stations that the kids would go around and visit. We thought it would be fun to make it as hands on and visual as possible. I think it is going to be so much fun!

  The stations that we ended up deciding to have (and not necessarily because they are the most important aspects of MN but mainly because there were adults that were particularly interested in presenting on those subjects) are: Native Americans in MN, Fur Traders and Voyagers, Immigrants coming to MN (primarily talking about the Scandinavian immigrants as many of them came and influenced Northern MN life) , Logging, A Pioneer General Store, The Civil War's affect on MN and other history and a station where the kids learn about all the symbols (flag, state bird, etc.) of MN.

Some of my first paintings
   I volunteered to do the Scandinavian station even though I don't think I have a drop of Scandinavian blood in me and some other mothers who actually do have history in that area said that they would help. We are planning on having a Scandinavian Kitchen where the kids will get to make Lefse and taste Lutefisk and other fun food items but we also plan to dress in costume, address each other as Lena , etc. (I still haven't figured out my first name for the day) and we wanted to decorate our place a little and show the kids some things that went along with the Scandinavian immigrants.

  Rosemaling is something that is well known in this area and very typical of the Scandinavian immigrants so I figured somebody from our group would probably own something that they could bring for us to show, but nobody did. So I decided I had better try out doing some rosemaling painting myself. I had never done it before but I thought it would be fun to try.

  The rosemaling has indeed been a lot of fun to try. I watched several YouTube videos on the subject (You can see my link to several videos, as well as a bunch of other pretty Scandinavian pictures I found, on my Scandinavian Pinterest board) and I got some books at the library and I have had fun giving it a whirl.

  I still have so much to learn but I did learn several of the proper brush strokes and I have had a lot of fun painting. My things still don't look like much of the traditional work that I have seen but I think they will be okay for some decorations at our homeschool day.
I decided it would be fun to paint some old skis that we had laying around and I think I will prop them up outside the kitchen door. After all the Scandinavians are believed to be the ones to invent skiing so I am guessing they may have brought that sport to MN as well.
 I had fun trying to do rosemaling on some cards.
 I painted a wooden box that wasn't looking to good in it's former condition and so I thought so rosemaling might improve it.

In one book I found the Norwegian saying above right that in English says: "In all your deeds should God's glory the first and the last be." I love that! The other sign says "Welcome" and I plan to put it on our kitchen door for the kids to see.

  When I have pulled out the paints to work on these projects (I just used simple water based paint that we had on hand) the kids enjoy painting as well. They painted pictures, tried rosemaling too and this evening they had fun painting various toy cars and train parts. It is jolly times to take time to be creative together.

   We may need a lot of developing to actually become good at this but we aren't afraid to try or to have fun in the process!

  Are there any of you that are actually good rosemalers out there? I would love to hear painting stories and tips from any of you!


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Chore Schedule


 One of the tools we use for being organized at our house is a chore schedule. The kids each have various chores they need to do each day and as several of them (emptying the dishwasher, sweeping, etc.) are rotated chores it is nice to have a list to reference who does what on each day.

 I also have a  list for me which is especially helpful for getting me in the routine of things that I want to make into a habit. Some things, like making meals, I just know I need to do so they don't end up on my list and the older kids and I don't have making our bed on our lists either as we simply do that automatically but for the younger kids I have it on their list.

   Having a list already made up takes a lot of the need to plan and think out of the day. If a child is wanting to go play I can just make sure that they have done the needed things on their chore list first and then they are free to go.

   I have used chore lists (sometimes more faithfully than others) for years now in fact here is a link to a post where I shared all of our lists in 2007. I still use the same list for my monthly, seasonally and yearly chores but the other lists have been revamped - especially for the kids.

  This week I have been working on revamping it yet again. This past fall we made a lot of revisions and updated it so that the kids were carrying a little heavier work load - after all they were growing up and are capable of much more than they once were and we want them to be prepared for running their own homes someday. But there were a few minor details that needed to be changed and I added a few things.

 Having the updated chore list this year has been such a blessing. The kids have taken over the cooking of some meals (I get part of the weekend off! I love it!) as well as being more involved with laundry and some of the other cleaning. I haven't felt so caught up on things since I did when Mara (my eldest) was a (easy) baby. Realizing that my children are only going to get more accomplished at helping around the house is so amazing and fun to think about! I am so thankful to God for how abundantly he has blessed us!

  The kids don't feel overwhelmed with chores either. We have worked on the charts together and mostly their comments have been things like "I would like to make breakfast one day" or "Lets split up the emptying the dishwasher and the dish drainer" (so one child no longer does both on one day). Now that they are all old enough to read that can check the list for themselves and get their things done and be ready for free time. The boys like to rise early so they will often get things done before breakfast.

Mara and Jonathan's chart
This time I added Musical instrument practice on to the chart as we have struggled to be regular at that (which is so embarrassing for me to say since I teach other people's children). I also put Spanish lessons on the chart because even though we have and love the Rosetta Stone Spanish Program we just haven't gotten into the habit of using it regularly. Hopefully this will help us to become fluent speakers of Spanish soon! :-)

   With these charts we do also totally realize that they are made for ideal days where we are home most of the time. Those don't always happen however, sometimes we go somewhere for much of the day, sometimes we have company, sometimes we get sick. There are some things on the lists that need to be done every day pretty much no matter what but there are others (like washing the hallway wall, cleaning the fridge or dusting) that simply can be skipped - things might get a little gross but we can live with that.

   We have found chore charts to be very helpful in living a more organized life. Do you use chore charts? I would love to hear your methods for staying organized!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Have unity with your husband in raising children

 Something that my mom was careful to teach and model to us girls as we grew up was the importance of being united with your husband when it came to raising children. She had observed in the past some parents that didn't work together (things would happen like the mother would undermine the dad, she would side with the kids at times instead of her husband and so on) and Mom observed how hard that was on children - not to mention how hard that could be on a marriage.

  I don't know how often we really discussed that when I was growing up but it did really make a strong impression on me. Ken and I have worked to be united in this way. It is something that has gone pretty well but something that I would like to work on more.

 Something that we did do that helped to get us off to a good start was before our oldest, Mara was even born we read through a parenting book ("To Train up a Child" by Mike and Debi Pearl) together - I think I read it to him while we were traveling - and then we discussed the ideas in the book. That way before we even started to work on training a child we had come up with a plan and discussed how we would do it. Otherwise it can be quite easy to disagree how forms of punishment, when discipline is needed and much more!

  It was a huge blessing for us that we did share many of the same ideas on this subject so we didn't have much in the way of disagreements to work through but I do still remember several times in the early years of child training when I would struggle a bit in my effort to present a united front.

  In our parenting styles we both love our children dearly and we want the to obey, I struggled with sometimes being a little bit "soft" with the kids however and unfortunately not always consistent. My emotions could get in the way of doing what I should. Ken being a guy (at least this is a typical gender difference) didn't have so many issues in this way and so there were a few times that I would not feel completely supportive inside when he would discipline them but I am so grateful now that I wouldn't express that uncertainty. We have children that truly love and respect their daddy (and they do me as well, just in case you were wondering) and even right after discipline after he had comforted them they were ready to spend time doing things with him.

  In always being united we were able to train our children (easily in fact - I don't even remember a struggle with this) to not go ask one parent after the other parent already gave an answer (to try to get a more favorable answer) .

 One quick caution - This does not suggest that you stand by and watch your husband abuse your children - but I hope that is not the case with any of you. That is a far different thing that your husband lovingly disciplining your children.

   We are past that small child training stage in our lives but we still have plenty of opportunity to present a united front to our children. In fact the teenage years are probably when most parents might struggle with this and when it might be most detrimental to the children and possibly the marriage.

   My goals are to:
  • Stand united with Ken in how we raise our children - this means discussing ideas and goals for them.
  • Never speak to the children negatively about Ken. Now our kids do know that we have different ideas on some things. I lean towards wanting to turn our place into a farm and Ken wouldn't mind living in town and having a lifestyle like that and so we do talk over our different ideas but we do it in love and usually come to a compromise that we both are happy with. The kids are aware of these different ideas but I don't think they are seeing that as a lack of unity.
I think this principle of standing united with your husband is an important one for a healthy marriage as well as for raising children. What are your thoughts?


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Almond Joy Bars

Last  month we had a retreat at church and the theme this year was "Joy". For our Friday evening time together (the Retreat lasts the whole weekend) we usually have some fun activities and then snacks. We thought it would be fun to try to have our snacks go along with the theme if we could. Emily came up with the idea of having "BEE JOYFUL" decorations (which turned out pretty cute!) and then we had some snacks that went along with bees and such. I made some fruit pizza to remind us of the fruit of the Spirit - of which one is JOY and then I also made some almond joy bars.

  I had seen various Almond Joy cake, bar and cookie recipes online and they looked pretty yummy but in the end I just ended up revising a recipe that I already had used and enjoyed many times. It was originally called Coconut Chews and didn't have either chocolate or almonds in it but those were pretty easy to add.

   Here is the recipe for my Almond Joy Bars (and no it isn't all that healthy - but we do like treats now and then.)

  • 3/4 cup butter or coconut oil, softened
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups flour (I use whole wheat)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Blend together the crust. Press evenly in the bottom of a 9 X 13 ungreased pan. Bake 12-15 minutes.
Gooey Coconut Part:
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 T. flour
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. vanilla
  • 1 cup coconut
Mix together and spread over hot crust. Bake 20 minutes longer.
  • 2 T melted butter
  • 3 T milk
  • 4 T. cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups (or to the right consistency) powdered sugar
Mix together and spread over warm bars. Sprinkle sliced almonds on top. Enjoy!

These pictures are just to show the cute bees that Emily made from balloons and bubble wrap (for the wings) for the evening.
The picture above also shows a nice group of guys that took over cleaning the kitchen after one meal at the retreat.


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Thrifty tips for clothing your family nicely

I said I would share a picture of the dress that Mara made Megan for her birthday. Megan wore it this morning to church and I got a picture of her in it before we left. That started me thinking about the issue of clothes....
  We don't spend very much money on clothes. Nor do I shop very often, in fact this year two date I have bought a total of two clothing items: A pair of snow boots for Mara and a pair of hiking boots/shoes for Jonathan. Both were off clearance racks. This year we will probably buy even less than usual I am really trying to simplify and not buy anything that we don't need.

  Even if we don't spend very much money it is still fun to dress nicely and not wear they same things all the time. I thought I would share some of the ways that I clothe our family frugally, I know I have addressed this issue before but it has been a while so I thought it would be fun to write about again.

Here are some quick tips:
  • Don't buy more than you need.
  • Buy quality not quantity. To get that more economically look for it second hand or make it.
  • Gratefully accept hand-me-downs if they are offered to you. Keep what you can use and pass on the rest.
  • Be creative with putting together outfits using the clothes you already have in your drawers.
  • Have "good" clothes and "everyday" clothes so that your "good" clothes stay in good shape.
  • Polish your shoes when they need it - it really extends their looking good time.
  • Mend things before they get worse.
  • Patch your pants.
  • Shop clearance racks.
  • Shop at garage sales or second hand stores.
  • Use high value (like $10 off a $10 purchase!) coupons.
  • Pass clothes on from one child to the next. We have specially marked boxes (according to age/size and gender) in our closets that we put clothes in to have them ready for the next child.
  • Sew your own clothes. Though don't go buy full price cloth and notions at a fabric store or it is unlikely that you will save money. Find sales, save notions off of old clothes, buy supplies from second hand stories, etc.
  • Go to or even host a clothing swap. We tried that last year and we found it helpful. I think I have ideas for improving it for next year.
  • Remake clothes. There have been so many times that we have something (either given to use or maybe something "Old" in our closet) that we just don't care for as is or maybe it doesn't even fit us but with a little creativity and a little sewing (or once a while maybe you can even fix something up without sewing) and you have something that does work for you.
 Remaking clothes is a favorite pastime of mine and if you look around you will find quite a few examples on this blog (like this skirt, a onesie dress, a big girl dress, and another dress and swimsuits). I have been working on some new remakes and mending lately and have quite a few more planned. I am hoping to just go through all of our clothes soon and either get rid of or remake those that we don't really like or wear. I have decided that I will try to do a bunch of posts on this subject as a series in May so if you like remaking clothes than I invite you to come join me then!

Meanwhile - how does your family save money on clothes? I would love to hear your tips!

 I am linking this to:
Hosted by New Life on a Homestead and The Prairie Homestead.

~Clever Chicks Blog Hop

Abiding Woman

Thrifty Thursday Linky Party at LivingWellSpendingLess.com! 

Let's build others up - not tear them down

 As the snow once again is falling heavily outside (and looking very beautiful by the way) I had fun looking through some scenery photos that I had in my files. I thought it would be fun to share some Spring like  pictures. Spring will come soon, meanwhile we will enjoy the snow and the pictures of Spring from other years! :-)

   There is a topic that has been going around in my mind some lately, I am quite sure I have written on it before but since it is in my thoughts and it is something I am working on I thought I would share some verses about it and write on it again. Hopefully you will find these thoughts encouraging.
   In my life at times I have noticed something that I don't like and that is a tendency to be critical of others. Now that wasn't something I would often say out loud to them (though I probably have more than I should with my children and maybe some others that I am close to) but I would think them, and I feel terrible saying this, but I know from time to time I would say that critical thought to others about someone too.

   Thinking about that really makes me feel kind of nasty because really how would I like to have others criticizing me behind my back? I wouldn't. Besides how does that really help anybody? Anyway... just being open and honest with you all, I am admitting that I have often been critical of others and I really don't want to be that way anymore.

It reminds me of this verse:

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." Matthew 7:1-5

   Why are we so often critical of others when we have problems ourselves?  I think criticism (both in giving it and also not wanting to take it - which I also struggle with) come from a pride problem, lets make them look bad and me look good. Pride is the root of so many problems and someday I really hope to be totally rid of it!!! When we think about the fact that we are all sinners in need of grace, none of us perfect, none of us who have it all together then it is easier not be so critical of others.

I have also found this verse helpful:
"Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony." Colossians 3:12-14

 Do you notice the mention of putting on humility????
 A habit that I have had fun working on forming is that when I find myself thinking a critical thought and would try to quickly get rid of that and start thinking about positive things instead.

For instance when I am out driving around I would (I hate to say this) find myself thinking things like "Oh that yard is a huge mess", "Oh that person looks grumpy", "Wow, it amazing what horrible combinations people will wear together" - I am actually having trouble remembering exact thoughts but I did catch myself being critical about houses I would pass, people whom I didn't know at all but I saw some flaw in them even from that distance. I have no idea why I started doing that - perhaps it is because I do think fixing things up is fun and I could look at a yard and think "oh, I could organize all that junk, plant some flowers, paint the door and things would look so much better" or maybe I was simply in a critical funk.

 But after a bit I started thinking about what I was doing and it really bothered me - How in the world was that helping anybody? I was simply putting myself in a critical frame of mind.

  So I have had fun changing that around and now when I am out driving or perhaps people watching at some place or another I have fun thinking positive thoughts about others. Instead of noticing that bad or the ugly I try to find the beauty in the situation. Things like noticing someone wearing a beautiful scarf, noticing a pretty house color (even if the yard is a mess), noticing a beautiful smile, you get the idea. That game by the way is much more fun and leaves me in a much better frame of mind! :-)

  Something we have done with our children when they something that isn't nice to one another is to have them then say three nice things about their sibling. I think this would be a good activity for me too. I think sometimes we need to work to train our minds to think good things rather than being critical.
The verse below shares the message that I hope and pray will one day be the only story of my life - that the critical spirit in me will be completely gone!

"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing." 1 Thessalonians 5:11

I hope that for you as well!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Celebrating a Birthday without spending any money. {Still working on simplifying our life}

 This week our Megan celebrated her 7th birthday. A pretty sweet 7 year old she is, too!

We did some celebrating on two different days as Ken needed to be gone on the evening of her actual birthday. So the evening before we had over all of our family that are in town (It is quite a few currently to we had 20 of us there in all) and had supper with a menu that she requested (Ham, potatoes, veggies, etc.- stuff that we already had on hand) and had cake and a gluten free pumpkin dessert (as one nephew is gluten free, but the rest of us enjoyed it too) and we made homemade "Ice cream" (actually ice milk made with my parents goat's milk).

  We had a fun time together and Megan was overwhelmingly blessed with gifts from all of them. Lots of not so healthy (but certainly enjoyed) treats were given as gifts along with other things.

 The next morning- on her birthday our family gave her our gifts as is our tradition. This year however I am trying not to buy anything for gifts but rather make homemade gifts from stuff we already have in our possession.

    I had a few reasons for this decision.

Number one reason was that we have a lot of stuff - in fact there have been many times that I have felt overwhelmed by the amount of stuff I have. Especially when I read stories about life back 80 years and further in our country and all over the world and also when I read current stories about life in some countries now I realize just how much we have - far more than we really need. Now don't get me wrong, I do feel very blessed to live in the time and place that I do, and I don't think that having stuff, or working to better yourself is wrong - not at all! I have just come to realize that for me personally (and for my family) I would like to have a little less stuff, I would prefer to step out of the buying cycle (for the most part - obviously I am not doing it completely) and instead work on using the things I have and making life more beautiful and simple with what we have. I have been saying those sayings "Have nothing in your lives that you don't know to be useful or believe to be beautiful" and "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without" many times to myself and I feel strongly about those messages. My focus has really turned to quality over quantity concerning the things that we have.

 Another reason for this decision not to spend money on gifts was the whole concept of money. As I begin to feel more strongly about the above reason I also realized that I would rather use my money in other ways than for buying things that weren't needed. I would prefer to give money to missionaries that are spreading the gospel, I would prefer to send it for humanitarian aid in South Sudan, I would prefer to get our 6 month emergency fund fully funded and I would prefer to get the mortgage paid on our house. There are higher priorities for our money than to buy things that aren't needed.

A third reason for this plan is simply that I think handmade gifts are special. They are one of a kind (generally) and you can make it personal. Not everybody is easy to make handmade gifts for but it is fun to try! I love to think about that person while I work on the gift. It is a great time to pray for them too.

 Megan's birthday is the first one in our immediate family this year but we have been making and giving gifts to extended family and friends. So far we have been able to do all handmade gifts except when it came to my Dad's birthday I did make him a hat (which you can see in the last picture of this post) but I wanted to give him more than that so I did have fun buying various food items that they enjoy but don't normally get and giving them too him too - I did buy something but since I knew it was totally useful and didn't add to their "stuff collection" I didn't mind doing that at all.

But anyway, on to the gifts that Ken and I gave to Megan:
 Megan has quite a few dolls including a few homemade dolls but for some reason she had really hoped to get a rag doll for her birthday. That was a quite reasonable request and I had fun making a Scandinavian one. We have been studying about Scandinavia (getting ready for a homeschool event) lately and it was fun to make one that went along with that.
 I also made her an apron which doesn't look like a baby apron. She likes it and I think I can now get rid of the baby aprons taking space in our drawer (though I will probably save one for visitors).
  I also gave her a dress for her doll, Alice Lily. This dress had actually come nearly made in a bag of fabric scraps that a friend gave to us recently. So I just had to do a few things to finish it up and it was ready to go. I also got most of the stuff for making the doll and the apron from those scraps. (Thanks Kim! )

 I did think a few weeks before Megan's birthday that I might have to spend some money after all as I remembered that on our children's 7th birthday we always gave them a Bible. Megan had recently really taken off with her reading (she is our newest bookworm) and I definitely wanted her to have a Bible this year. She did actually have a Bible that had been passed her way from somewhere but it was in the King James Version and though she didn't seem to mind and we found it pretty fun to listen to her read all the old fashioned words it didn't seem like she was always understanding them, nor could she follow along with the rest of us when we read (she would always say, "But mine says....") nor was it the version that we memorize from. So anyway I wanted to get her an NIV.

    I did start doing some shopping online for Bibles and found some but not very many that had both pictures and were in NIV (I know she loved having pictures). In my searching I found the one style below and then I noticed there were used one too (on Amazon) and they were really cheap and they said they were in very good condition. Generally I have found that used books in that are classified as very good condition looked almost new and since this is a temporary Bible anyway (since in a few years she'll want one that looks a little more grown up- and just because when you use them regularly they don't last forever) I decided to go ahead and get the used one. With shipping it cost $4.99 - I had a $5 gift card that I had earned with Swagbucks so I didn't have to use any money out of pocket. Sweet!

 When I got the Bible it wasn't quite in as good of condition as I thought it would be as there was writing on two of the front pages (saying it was a gift to someone) but I was able to carefully cut them out with an exacto knife and all was good there and there was a blue crayon mark on the back cover but I was able to scrub that off. The top of the back binding had also gotten squished slightly but I have seen brand new books like that too. As far as the inside pages I don't really think the previous owner ever opened it- hopefully he had another Bible and simply didn't need this one!
 I made a padded fabric case for the Bible.

 The kids also made her some homemade presents. Mara made her a dress which hopefully I will get pictures of when she wears it to church tomorrow and then I can show it on here.

  Megan had a very happy birthday (she also enjoyed several letters, cards and calls from family and friends) and it didn't require lots of money or lots of new stuff brought into our house.

 Do you like to give handmade gifts?
How do you deal with lots of stuff?
I always enjoy hearing your thoughts!

I am linking this to the Homestead Barn Hop.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Do unto others....

This afternoon I read an article by Lee Strobel and in it he suggests that every month you ask yourself the question "How would I like to be married to me?" This questioning time is not supposed to be an opportunity to pridefully think of all our virtues but rather to notice the things that we should be working on. (But then again do look at yourself in a balanced light I know some people struggle more with tearing themselves down rather than pride so maybe this little project wouldn't be so well fitted for you unless you can keep it in balance).

 Just take the time to look at yourself honestly and then try to adjust anything in your life (maybe grumpy moods or whatever) that would make yourself a better spouse.

"So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets."
Matthew 7:12
This has been good food for thought for me. I hope you find it that way as well.


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