Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Just a Normal Day

Jonathan in the cleaned out tree house.
 Today was one of those normal sort of days where nothing unusual happened but it just left me feeling blessed and contented. I thought just for fun I would share my day with you.

  We woke up to sunshine and a silly robin banging into our bedroom window (he has been doing it for several days now- ever since it snowed last Thursday). I am not sure what the robin thinks he is doing but he is quite persistent. The sunshine was very lovely especially after several gray rainy/snowy days in a row.

  Starting the morning with prayer and Bible reading is always an important start for my day. Right now I am reading from the book of Jeremiah.

  I had some pie crust in the fridge (that I had mixed up at an earlier date but didn't use all of it) that needed to be used up so I made an apple pie for breakfast. I also made a pumpkin pie but it didn't get done in time (we ate it this evening for snack). Pie always makes for a good start for a day. Ken doesn't have to get to work super early so we eat breakfast as a family. I really enjoy that he is able to eat with us.

  After breakfast we were able to get our Bible reading done (Colossians 2 today), a couple of letters out to the mailbox, a grammar lesson done and things fairly well tidied up before my music students arrived at 9:30 am. There are 3 brothers (who are also homeschooled) that come together and so while one has his 1/2 hour lesson the others get to play with my kids. The kids love this arrangement. It does cut our school day short as we don't really get to the books very much until 11 am but we have made it work out.

  After my piano students left we hit the books. Jonathan has had a hard time with Math this year as he started doing Algebra 1/2 (Saxon) and he just doesn't care for all the equations. Lately I have been having to spend a lot of one on one time with him to help him through but we are almost there! We only have 4 lessons left and we will be done for the year. Exciting! Next year I am going to try something different with him for Math before we go on to full fledged Algebra. I don't think he is quite ready for it and so I think we will do a more practical math and let him get through adolescence a little before we tackle Algebra again. Megan has been needing a little more help lately too so I have Megan on one side of me and Jonathan on the other while we work at the table. The other two are able to work pretty  much on their own.

  We got the book work done by 12:30 and then we had a lunch of leftovers.
  After lunch we enjoyed one of our favorite times which is reading aloud together. The kids clean up the lunch table and dishes (I do my own before I start reading) while I read. Currently I am reading the book of Judges from the Bible, "The Story of the World" (2nd book), "Be Your Own Doctor", "A Shepherd's View of Psalm 23" and then today we started a true story about some Pioneers in the Florida Everglades. With the first 4 books the kids will narrate back to me after I read (the each take turns doing a different book) to make sure that they were listening and learning. After that we had our rest time (reading and a short nap for me) on our beds.

  We had to be up by 3 for more music students. I teach two sisters in the afternoon.

  In the afternoon the kids generally have quite a bit of free time (the also do more chores and practice piano and things like that).  It was a pretty sunshiny day and so the 3 youngest all headed outdoors. The boys having been really in the cowboy mood so they had fun working to rig up a play horse of sorts to ride. It didn't work quite like they hoped but they had fun with it.
  The boys also voluntarily cleaned out our old tree-house (that is now a ground shed because it fell down a couple of years ago) which had become the catch all for outside "junk". They were eager to show off all that they had been working on when I went out to see what they were up too. I do love my boys!

   Mara and I had fun doing some more sewing together. We have been altering an old dress of mine for her to wear for our pioneer day. It feels very fitting to let down hems and take in seams on a dress to be used for her pioneer dress. They were always remaking old dresses. We didn't turn this one inside out though! We also worked at getting the quilt top done.

  I made Meatloaf, Green Beans and Mushroom sauce and Mashed Potatoes for supper. It was an all American sort of meal and I really enjoyed it.

 After supper Megan went out to care for the chickens and she was out there so long I decided I had better go check on her as we do have a rooster that is a bit mean. She wasn't really having trouble though - just having fun watching them and biding her time to go in at just the right time when the rooster wouldn't bother her. She looked so sweet and cute in her hat and coat. I do love my girls too!

   In the evening Ken worked more on the designing of the house we are hoping to build. He has figured out some pretty cool ways to design and make pictures of the house on the computer. It is fun to see what he comes up with. I love my husband pretty well too!

  I started this yesterday (Tuesday) and am now finishing it up today. It has been a busy day with 6 music lessons, a showing (and henceforth a trip to town- we ate lunch at Ken's office and hit a couple of second hand stores), lots of getting ready for our pioneer day tomorrow, church tonight and wishing my Mom a happy birthday. It was a good day too.

 Good night!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Goals for the Week

Last week went pretty well. There was a lot more I would have loved to get done but I feel happy with what we did accomplish too.
Some of our quilt squares

Here were last weeks goals:
Homeschooling Goals

  • Get the Achievement Tests done and sent off.
  • Get quilt squares done for the quilt I am making for pioneer day for our homeschool group.  Thanks so much to Mara for helping me with this project! It was fun to work together.
  • Get our pioneer costumes ready. - This is almost done but we have a little finishing up to do.
Homesteading Goals

  • Plant seeds (we are getting a late start for our indoor seedlings but better late than never. We still have 5 or more weeks before it is garden planting time here. We did get quite a bit of this done yesterday.
  • Clean up garden area.
  • Prune bushes.
Homemaking Goals
  • Clean out kitchen cupboards.
  • Go through laundry room and organize and clean. I made some progress on this but still have stuff to do.
  • Touch up paint on front door.
Business Goals
  • Get wedding portfolios organized on my website. I did work on this a little.
  • Write quotes.
  • Add reviews/thank yous to my website.
Personal Growth Goals
  • Give two compliments every day. 
  • Work to develop a habit of praying immediately whenever I feel frustrated or impatient. 
  • Find two ways to show respect for Ken.
With none of these goals do I feel like I did it perfectly - I am still so very much a work in progress but progress was made and I will continue to work on these areas.
Blogging Goals
  • Link to 5 blog parties this week.
  • Write 2 posts for repurposing series in May.
  • Share at least one post on both Pinterest and Facebook.

Now on to my goals for this week:

Homeschooling Goals

  • Have our kids practice the piano - particularly their recital songs every day.
  • Sew up quilt for pioneer day for our homeschool group.
  • Get our pioneer costumes and everything else ready for pioneer day.
Homesteading Goals
  • Get bee hives cleaned out and ready for the NUCs to arrive.
  • Clean up garden area.
  • Plant fruit trees on our new property.
Homemaking Goals
  • Mend
  • Finish going through laundry room and organize and clean.
  • Touch up paint on front door.
Business Goals
  • Get wedding portfolios organized on my website.
  • Write quote.
  • Add reviews/thank yous to my website.
Personal Growth Goals
  • Practice the cello 5+ days this week. 
  • Continue to work to develop a habit of praying immediately whenever I feel frustrated or impatient.
  • Give 3 compliments every day.
Blogging Goals
  • Link to 6 blog parties this week and share one post on both Facebook and Pinterest.
  • Write 2 posts for repurposing series in May.
  • Write Book reviews for 3 books.
That is my hopes for this week. What are you hoping to get done?
I will be linking this to Money Saving Mom.

Encouraging Your Children to Love Homesteading

The Ducklings in their corral
  I have been enjoying watching my children's love of homesteading and I thought that it would be fun to write a post about it. It could be that everybody's children just love it naturally but then I realized it is possible they don't and maybe their are things that we do that cause our children to love it so. Here are some of the things that I have thought about that we have done that promotes a love of this lifestyle.

  ~ We do a lot of reading aloud (which our children LOVE) and many of the books that I choose to read are historical ones that often talk a lot about a homesteading type life. Some favorites are: The Little House Books, Ralph Moody's books, James Herriots' books, Anne of Green Gables series and books by Gene Stratton Porter (with Keeper of the Bees being my favorite).

~Encourage play that goes along the line of homesteading. Skip out on most all of those plastic toys (except Legos! -smile) and encourage creative play with nature and making things themselves. It makes it much easier to keep a house neat without tons of toys and the kids have lots of fun. The pictures in this post contain some of their recent creative play that is along a homesteading theme. They are making a ranch out in the woods right now and have corrals and a barn that the ducks can use (though that isn't their normal home - only while the kids are playing there) and they are working on a whole farm. All four of the kids love working on this sort of thing together.

~I enjoy the work (of homesteading) and so generally have a good attitude about it and that really rubs off on kids. I remember one day when I was out shoveling manure onto our garden, it was lightly raining and could have been an unpleasant task but I was just thinking about how much better our garden would be because of it. Mara was only around 5 at the time but she came out to help me voluntarily and we just had a fun time out their visiting about our garden and how this would help it grow.

~Share your dreams with them. This is something I have found immensely helpful for motivation to getting things accomplished with them helping. When they catch your vision they are much faster to want to help.

The well for their homestead.
~Let them dream a little. There are some things that I didn't really see us having very much off on our homestead - namely animals. They have never really been my thing and they are not something that Ken is interested in at all but our kids love them. So the animals we have had so far (not counting bees) and the ones that we have in the works for the future are all inspired by our children. And really - I am getting into it a little too. We will see if Ken starts getting excited about them sometime! :-)

~Involve them in work starting when they are really little. When we plant seeds in the spring inside that is always a fun activity and since the kids were pretty tiny they have been helping me with that. When they are little they can make it harder rather than easier but now that they are pretty big planting can go pretty fast because they are trained.

~Let them be the experts that you listen too. On several different subjects it has been my older kids that have done the research and I refer to them when I need help. Mara has become very knowledgeable in a lot of plant lore and she also did a lot of the research before we got chickens. Jonathan did all of the research before we got ducks this Spring. I don't have time to do everything or research everything - it helps a lot that they can take over in some areas. Also if I need something built or a new wooden spoon carved I don't usually do that myself - I ask Jonathan. We are a team that works together and the kids are just as essential as Ken or I for doing what we do.

~Have parents like mine. Oh, maybe that isn't possible for you. Anyway, I know that my parents have been a huge influence on my kids loving homesteading. My parents are live off the land sort of people and our kids love going to visit them, playing with their goats, roaming in their woods, picking apples off their trees and so forth. They would love it if our place could be just like Grandpa and Grandma's. Ken's parents also encourage them too in their love of the natural things that God has made with our many joint camping trips and their encouraging words in those areas.

  Now I do want to be sure you realize that our kids aren't perfect - there are some days that they don't feel like going out to care for the chickens but they have to do it anyway. There is many a day that they don't feel like weeding and I'll admit that I do the majority of that myself since I kind of like it and getting the kids to do it can sometimes feel a bit like pulling teeth. So life isn't perfect here, but overall I am pretty happy with the family I have and feel very blessed to have children who really enjoy our homesteading journey.

 If you consider yourself a homesteader - do you have kids that love the journey you are on? Why or why not do you think?

I will be linking this to some of the blog parties on my sidebar.

Sunday, April 27, 2014


"Finally, let the mighty strength of the Lord make you strong." Ephesians 6:10

I was needing this reminder today as I realize yet again that I can't get everything done that I would like to do. I need to rest in Him and rely on His strength, not try to push through and do things on my own. I hope this verse blesses you as well.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Home Sweet Home {Getting Rid of Clutter}

 As we work to sell our house and are trying to get ready for moving something that I have been working at a lot is getting rid of clutter. There are two big reasons for this.

  1. When selling a house you want it to look as big as possible. The less stuff you have crammed in an area - the bigger it will look. People want spacious rooms and with less clutter even a smallish house house can look spacious. I am noticing that our kitchen that I find to be rather small can look rather roomy when there are empty counters.
  2. When getting ready to move it is super nice to have everything already gone through and then you can pack only the things you really want at your next place. Decluttering early on and continuing to work on it will help a lot when closing day comes.
Some of the things that I have been working on are to make our house less cluttered are:

  • When I have a little extra time I either choose a whole room or just a little cupboard and I systematically go through it all - see if there is anything in it that I don't either find useful or beautiful and if that is the case then I get rid of it. 
  • I am working at finishing up projects, getting clothes mended, stuff like that so that everything is in good working shape and not just sitting around being clutter.
  • I am working to read through magazines and books that have been sitting around. Magazines are getting recycled after being read and books are often getting packed or returned to whoever they belonged to or if it isn't such a good book after all then I get rid of it.
  • I am trying not to buy much and even work on using up some of the food we had stocked up.
  • Ken had a couple of empty rooms at his office and since we both wanted to lighten up the amount of stuff that we had here and also because we will be kind of in limbo after this house sells without having a house to move all our stuff too we decided it would work well to store a bunch of stuff there. So a lot of our stuff that we don't really need right now (like many books, some kitchen things, etc) we have been packing up and taking there. It is going to be nice to have that all done already when it is time to move.
  • Whenever we get ready to have another showing I will try to walk around the house and I try to look at it like somebody else might see it. What clutter is sitting around that I am just used to and what things are dirty (windows - a smudge on the wall for example) that I don't notice? It seems like every time I come up with some new thing that I can pack away or get rid of and some new area to clean.
What do we do with the clutter that we are getting rid of?
  • Give it away.
  • Trash it.
  • Recycle it.
  • Sell it.
 How do you work to get rid of clutter at your place? Do you think that is an important part of selling a home?

Some Ways We Have Saved Money Lately

   Frugality is a lifestyle. So many frugal things we do we don't even think about any more - it is just normal. And since we grew up in frugal homes as well there are some things we may have never thought about as that is just the way it has always been done. Some of the ways that we waste money are also things that are just normal for us - things that we don't really even think about.

  That is why I think it is fun to both read the ways that others save money and also share some of the ways that we save money. It can be helpful to both of us to notice new ways that we could save money.

Here are some of the things that we have done lately that have helped us to save money:
Mara beside the bike trail which is covered with snow.
 Last Saturday our family took a bike ride since it was a beautiful day. Not only was it free exercise and entertainment but we were also able to run an errand while we were out which saved on gas. Our ride did get cut shorter than planned when we got over on the other side of the lake and found that the trail there was still covered with snow. Because we didn't bike as far we stopped and played for a while at a playground. This playground is over nearer to our new land and the kids really liked it and are excited about going to it more often.

A swinging contest
 We went shopping at JC Penny because I had a $10 of $10 coupon and were able to find shirts for the boys to wear at my sister's wedding and then also 2 shirts each for Mara and I. With the coupon I only spend $1.82 for 6 shirts. That was a pretty nice deal - especially since the two for the wedding we were going to need to buy anyway.

  Jonathan needed shoes and so we went shopping for them but the only ones he liked were pretty expensive. I came home and went shopping on Amazon as was able to find ones that were very comparable (leather, sturdy and brown - all important to J)  for $25 less.
 I made a batch of deodorant. It is so easy to make, lasts a long time, works fine and doesn't have any scary ingredients in it.

 We use handkerchiefs when we need to blow/wipe our noses.

 We have been eating from the food that we have this week except for a stop to get milk. It is such a blessing to have chickens that are laying well.

  We saved eggs to go in my Dad's incubator so quite likely we won't have to buy either new layers or meat chickens this year.
 I helped my sister work on altering her wedding dress. This doesn't really save me any money but it is always fun to help others save money too. That is one of the blessings of having family and friends - helping each other out.

 I was able to alter a pair of jeans that I had so that I like the way they look and fit much better.

 We planted seeds inside for transplanting later on outside. We do this with tomatoes, cabbage, peppers, herbs, flowers, broccoli, kohlrabi and more. This saves us lots of money over buying little plants at the greenhouse. We also saved money in this venture as I used recycled items for all of my planting. I also used soil that I had saved from last year. The only cost in this was for some seeds but not even all of the seeds as I saved seeds from some of the heirloom crops in my garden and I also saved seeds that were leftover from last year - I just plant those a little heavier.

 In getting ready for a big homeschool co-op day next week where we are going to learn about pioneer days I have been able to do things all while using stuff we already have on hand. I am making a quilt that we are going to use for a quilting bee, we will be all wearing costumes, I am providing stuff for the kids to dip candles (oh I forgot, I did specially order the wick with this event in mind a few months back but all the equipment and the wax will be using recycled cans and old candles), helping with making ice cream, soup and bread. It will be a fun and busy day but that doesn't mean it has to be expensive. :-)

 I am also helping to prepare for a homeschool year end program and for that I was able to find some free printable music online for us to use for both instruments and singers.

 Last night our family (and my parents and sister) enjoyed a free concert sponsored by our Library. It was a lady that had all sorts (she must have played around 20)of different instruments - most of which we had never heard before. It was a fun and educational experience.

  What have you been doing to save money lately?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Goals for This Week

   When there is a lot going on in life I sure find it helpful to my goals and lists of things that I need to get done down on paper. Not only is it fun to cross things off but I have also discovered that it really frees up my brain space so I don't feel overwhelmed and can think more creatively about the task at hand. When I have tons on my plate and I am trying to remember everything and think about getting everything done at once it feels like my brain basically goes on overload and starts to shut down (meaning I feel overwhelmed, a bit depressed and I just can't think as well).

   We are at a busy season of our lives (selling, building, homeschooling, homesteading, businesses, etc) and I am going to work at dutifully writing out lists so that Lord willing I can avoid that overwhelmed feeling that I just don't care for very much.

  Here are some of the goals that I have for this week: (And I certainly could have come up with a lot more but I am trying to be realistic. - I do however have a long term to-do list with a lot more on it)

Homeschooling Goals

  • Get the Achievement Tests done and sent off.
  • Get quilt squares done for the quilt I am making for pioneer day for our homeschool group.
  • Get our pioneer costumes ready.
Homesteading Goals

  • Plant seeds (we are getting a late start for our indoor seedlings but better late than never. We still have 5 or more weeks before it is garden planting time here. We did get quite a bit of this done yesterday.
  • Clean up garden area.
  • Prune bushes.
Homemaking Goals
  • Clean out kitchen cupboards.
  • Go through laundry room and organize and clean.
  • Touch up paint on front door.
Business Goals
  • Get wedding portfolios organized on my website.
  • Write quotes.
  • Add reviews/thank yous to my website.
Personal Growth Goals
  • Give two compliments every day. 
  • Work to develop a habit of praying immediately whenever I feel frustrated or impatient.
  • Find two ways to show respect for Ken.
Blogging Goals
  • Link to 5 blog parties this week.
  • Write 2 posts for repurposing series in May.
  • Share at least one post on both Pinterest and Facebook.
I wrote these out on paper yesterday morning but didn't manage to get them posted until now. Do you like to set goals and write out lists? What are your goals for this week?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Take Naps for Greater Productivity

The goats see the need for naps.
   Today I was reminded once again of something that I well know but every so often I like to challenge - I guess to make sure it is still so. I was reminded of the fact that I can function much better and be much more productive in a day when I have had my nap. I don't take the 2 to 3 hour naps that leave you completely groggy (unless you are sick and really need the rest) but rather I am speaking of a quick pick-me-up nap of 10-25 minutes.

  Our youngest child is 8 but still we have nap time nearly every day at our house. First we have our time of me reading aloud to the kids and then we each go off to our own beds and spend up to one hour there. I usually read for 20-40 minutes and then I set my alarm for 20 minutes later and go to sleep. My kids spend all of their time reading (only sleeping if they are sick) but still get some good time of rest and quietness. It has also been a good time for them to learn how to manage being happy alone and quiet. I started training them to do it when they were very young (just past the age of them napping naturally on their own).

  Here is why I really like naps: I like to be a very efficient worker and get things done quickly. I can easily do that in the morning but after lunch I start to drag a little bit - our little nap time gets me going again and I can once again be quick and efficient. For me a nap also really helps my mood. I have discovered that I can get cranky or moody much more easily when I have missed my nap (sound like a little kid you might know?!). When my kids were younger and actually needed sleep I would also notice a big difference in them if the nap was missed. For me I would much rather use a quick nap then dose up with caffeine (which I have never found to work for me anyway).

  A side note on my kids - they have all gone through times of not enjoying naps that much but that time seems to be pretty much over. They talk now about liking them and will admit missing them when something else happens. They are all bookworms now (I think our nap time encourages that) and so spending an hour reading during the middle of the day is actually pretty fun - you don't have to work or do schoolwork during that time so it is nice for them.

  Over all even with the hour that I miss in resting during our nap time I have found that I can get much more done in a day then if I would try to just keep on working and skip my nap. So just in case you struggle with productivity and feeling worn out come evening I thought I would share with you what works very well for me. Maybe taking a nap will help you as well!

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject! Do you take naps? Why or why not?

I will be linking to some blog parties in my sidebar.  

Sunday, April 20, 2014

He Died for Us and Rose Again!

"For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was raised on the third day according to the scriptures." 1 Corinthians 15:3 & 4.

Central to our whole faith as Christians is the fact that Jesus died for our sins but that He didn't stay dead but rather came to life again and is now in heaven with God and will come back to take us with Him to heaven someday. If we don't believe this then our faith is worthless.

 This is something to celebrate. It is also something to cause us to consider our life and whether we are truly responding to His sacrifice the way that we should. Romans 6:3-7 has some more insight into what Jesus did for us and how that should affect our lives....

 "Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin."

What an awesome promise this is!!! Thanks be to God that He IS Risen!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Home Sweet Home ~To Use a Realtor or Not When Selling

I thought it would be interesting to share some of the things I have learned on the topic of selling your home and am hoping that if you have any experience with any of this that you will join in the conversation in the comments so that, Lord willing, we can provide a source of information that is helpful to those wanting to sell their house.

 When we decided to sell our house our initial plan was to use a Realtor. We have used one before and it was a positive experience (both for selling and buying) but then we started thinking about all the money we would save (around 6% of the selling price goes to the Realtor) and we thought maybe we would attempt selling it ourselves a little before listing it. Here are the things we tried:

  • Word of Mouth - telling basically anybody and everybody that we were wanting to sell our house. We did have one person come look at our house through this method. Some friends of ours probably do have their house sold by this method.
  • Using Facebook, or blog or any other social network that you are on to tell about your house being for sale. I did put it on both Facebook and here on my blog.
  • Think about any papers or newsletters that you could put a "For Sale" add in for free. I was able to put something in our local homeschool e-newsletter. From that I could link to my blog with all the information.
  • Put up a "For Sale" sign on your street.
That is all that we did. We didn't work that hard at it, partly because we were really busy, partly because we didn't want to start to early as we didn't want to suddenly be without a house while it was still early and partly because we had kind of planned on using a realtor so we were open to that option.

Here are some other ideas that I have heard of that might be able to help you sell your house yourself.

  • By the "For Sale" sign in front of your house also have a weather safe place where you can keep flyers about your house (with price details, pictures etc.) that people can easily pick up without ever bothering you. A friend said she was able to sell her house by this method.
  • Put it on Craigslist.
  • Hold your own open house (it is an idea but the friend that told me about it said it was a waste of time and money for them. So it probably would depend on where you live.)
  • Pay just a listing fee with a broker and get your house put up on the MSL listing.
  Some other details you would need to think about when you are selling your home yourself is how should you price it and then dealing with all the paper work when you sell. I am sorry but I am no expert in either field so I would love for others to chime in with advice!

 We did decide to go ahead and list with a Realtor at the beginning of this month. We did get 7 showings the first week and then soon after that they held an open house which attracted more people. Out of that we did get one offer (which didn't work out). So listing with the Realtor did indeed work very well to get some action that we hadn't been seeing. The time of year that we did list (just when it was getting warm) was also probably helpful.  Helping with all the paperwork is something else that is very handy to have a Realtor for. They also have helpful advice.

  What I don't like about using a Realtor is how much it costs and also that now for every showing we have to leave the house. It can be a little challenging to get schoolwork and other things done at home when we have to leave every so often so that they can have a showing. 

   Anyway - that is our story so far - I would love to hear yours! Have you ever sold a house yourself - what was your experience? If you use a Realtor what are your thoughts on that?

Friday, April 18, 2014

A DIY Project Gone Bad

 I have been meaning to make wool dryer balls for quite some time now. I had read up on it and saw quite a few tutorials which involved wrapping wool yarn into balls. I didn't do it at the time because I didn't have any wool yarn that I wanted to use up in that way and so the project was put off for quite a while.

  Meanwhile I was given some wool yarn that I wouldn't mind using for that purpose and then I started thinking it would be fun to make some with essential oil in it. Aaron spilled some essential oil the other day so I decided that would be a good time to make the balls. I sopped up the oil with some wool fabric scraps and then carefully wrapped wool yarn around it and then threw them in the dryer with my load of laundry.
 That was a big mistake! Oh, I forgot to mentioned I had decided to make two of them with a rock inside of them to make them heavier - well before long I started hearing the rocks go thump thump in a way that made it sound like they weren't inside the wool ball anymore. I went to check it out and sure enough they were quite loose and on their own and the wool yarn was completely wrapped around and felted on my whole load of clothes. What a mess!!!
It took quite a bit of working and cutting of the wool fibers to get our clothes recovered. It was disappointing but at the same time rather funny too. It made me realize that I maybe should slow down and check things out a little better rather than just jumping into everything like I can sometimes do!

I have checked out how I was supposed to do it now (better late than never). At DIY Natural she explains that you need to put your balls into an old pantyhose and then put in the washer followed by a trip in a hot dryer and then check for felting (you may need to repeat the process) before you ever send them in the dryer without the pantyhose. I think I might need to try again (and do it right!) especially after reading what she said about them reducing dryer time.

 Do you have any funny stories about a time that you goofed in your homemaking attempts? I would love to hear them! You can make me feel not so alone in my silliness. :-)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Birthday Girl

My sweet Megan turned 8 today.
It was a fun day filled with.....

  • Favorite foods: waffles and raspberries, grilled cheese sandwiches and apples, BBQ chicken, fried potatoes, green beans, garlic bread and lemon pie. 
  • Gifts: Homemade ones included a whole pioneer outfit for her doll complete with an original story by Mara and a bonnet for Megan made by me - The bonnet much to her father's chagrin (who would like to think we are normal) was worn all day - even while biking on the lane, going to the store and to church tonight. There were many other much enjoyed and appreciated gifts but the highlight was 2 baby ducks which Jonathan and Mara bought for her (with Jonathan's arranging and getting ready for them).
  • Decorating: My girl who takes after me with a love for having things be made special was quite delighted to have us hang up streamers for her special day.
  • Fun times with family and friends: All of our local family was able to come over to share supper with us before we all headed off for church to enjoy our time with our church family.
We are blessed that God choose to send Megan into our lives!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Spring Has Arrived in Minnesota

 We had a long hard winter here with a record number of days under zero but we made it through (while having fun I might add) and have now greeted Spring with open arms.

  We are enjoying the warmer weather and having fun outside so very much! Here are some of the ways we have been enjoying Spring around here:
~Outdoor "Tea" parties once again. Megan invited Mara and I to one not long ago. It was complete with delicate looking snow cakes, birds nest tea cups (abandoned nests that had fallen down) and pine cones.

 ~Gathering maple sap. This is out at my parents place as they have maple trees and we don't. My brothers and dad created an updated way to collect the sap using the bobcat and a wood frame they made with a pallet. It isn't quite so quiet and peaceful using the bobcat but it does make it easier not have to carry heavy loads of sap through the woods on slippery snow.
~The baby goats have arrived out at my parents house too. They have around 15 kids now. Our kids love going out to see them and wish we could be out there full time right now.
 They get a bunch of loving attention - from these two pictures you would be led to believe you have to close your eyes in order to hold one but I don't think that is actually the case. :-)
 With baby goats also comes more milk. My parents are getting a lot of it again and generously sharing with us. Hooray for good raw milk!
 ~Another Spring time activity that has been going on around here has been bike riding. This year the big news on this line is that Megan can now ride on her own without training wheels. We love to bike ride as a family but we had put her on a tag-along so that we didn't have to slow down and so there wasn't this big push for her to ride on her own. This year however she pushed herself to do it and got it done.

 ~ The other "Springy" sort of activity around here happened because my "baby" sister got engaged (last month) - you know in Spring a young man's fancies turn to thoughts of love (isn't that how that old saying goes?) - and so we are having fun helping her with wedding planning. They are getting married in June and so a lot needs to be done fairly quickly. On Saturday I was able to help a little with addressing invitations and yesterday afternoon we went shopping for fabric to fix up her dress to make it more modest and pretty too. Weddings are fun especially when you are happy with the person they have chosen, which we certainly are. She is marrying our friend Benjamin who I have mentioned before concerning house sitting, canoe trip, church and so forth.

 The snow is pretty much all gone (though they had forecast that more would come) and so even though the weather is still getting chilly at times it feels like Spring and we are enjoying it!

Oh, I almost forgot - I didn't think there were pussy willows out yet but I was mistaken - we saw some yesterday! Another sign of Spring.

What Spring things have you been enjoying?

I will be linking to some of the blog parties in my sidebar.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Piece of Pottery - That's Me!

An old picture of some lovely pottery along with pussy willows
 which I am excited about seeing before long!
I really like pottery. Someday I really hope to be able to learn how to make pottery on a wheel - meanwhile I enjoy seeing the works of art that others have created. It is probably because of my enjoyment of pottery that this verse in Isaiah is such a neat one to me.

"But now, O Lord, Thou art our Father, we are the clay, and Thou our potter; and all of us are the work of Thy hand." Isaiah 64:8

God is truly an Artist - a Master Designer. He can make something beautiful out of us. But when we rebel and resist being molded by His hand but can no longer become as beautiful or useful. We might not always understand everything that goes on in our life but through it all let's try to be mold-able by the Potter.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Home Sweet Home

As you know, if you have been reading here, we have our house on the market, have bought land and are getting ready to build a new house. That quite likely will absorb much of our thoughts and activities this summer and so I will be blogging about it as we go along. I do plan on blogging about other things too (including hopefully a new series starting soon on re-purposing things) but I plan on sharing pretty regularly about our adventures in selling and building. I am thinking that maybe I will get a post done every Saturday on this subject.

  I have quite a few ideas about what I would like to share but actually I am really hoping this series will also be a time for you to share ideas and thoughts with me too. I have questions about what sort of counter tops work best, ideas for landscaping, what you think about the windows that you have and more. As we make oodles of decisions I would love to hear about what you love and hate about your home. I would love to learn from you!

  Here are some of the things that I plan to share:

  • Things I have learned about selling a house.
  • Discussions on various parts of a house (counter tops for example) and what we are considering and asking for your advice.
  • Our adventures as we plan on camping out in a garage for the summer (if everything goes according to plan).
  • Tutorials and photos about the progress.
It should be fun and I really hope you will join me!

I would love to hear your general tips concerning selling or building a house!


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Enjoying Our New Land

The river is starting to thaw.
  We listed our house with a Realtor on Thursday evening. Since then we have shown it 3 times. It looks like things could go fast but we shall see. We are working to hurry up and get everything figured out for building so that when the house sells we have everything ready to go.
Photo: Our first meal on our new land
The kids and I ready for supper with the river behind us.

  This evening we had decided to go out to the land right after Ken got of work so that we could look over how the snow was melting, where the water was running and where we would put things. We also decided to cook and eat our supper out there. It was handy that we had already decided to go someplace because this afternoon the Realtor called to see if it would work for somebody to look at the house this evening (they like us to be gone when people come).
 It was a fun evening and we are looking forward to spending more time out there this Spring and Summer!
  We saw swans on the water, geese in the water and air, the kids also said they saw loons and muskrats, we saw some deer nearby and tons of evidence of a busy highway for deer on our property. It looks like wildlife abounds in the area.
 While Ken and I did a lot of measuring and figuring things out the kids had fun singing around the fire.
The snow is still pretty deep some places! Coming back to the van Ken tried to come across the ditch and did some major sinking instead. The boys were light enough to walk on top.

 We are feeling pretty excited about new adventures right now and excited about Spring!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Some of the Ways We Have Saved Money Recently

 I enjoy reading on other blogs about what they do to save money so I think it is also fun to share with you every so often some things that we have done to save money around here. Here is some of the things we have been doing.....

  • When we were on our trip last month we were staying at a place that had a washer and dryer in the apartment but there wasn't any laundry soap. There was bar soap however and I had taken along baking soda (for washing hair but I had extra) and so I decided to make up my own laundry soap. It was easy and though it was simpler and a bit different than what I normally make it worked fine and we were able to keep up with the laundry while we were there and go home with clean clothes which was nice. Now our vacation was by no means cheap but that is one of the reasons we like to save money - so we can use some of it to do fun things like travel - but even in our traveling it is fun to find simple ways to save some money.
  • For our Winter Retreat at church this year we had fun doing some decorating to go along with our theme of revival. We were able to decorate using things that I and others already had on hand. We made things like the fire banners at the front of the building that are shown below. To make those I used some old drapery material and than various scraps of fire colored fabric.

  • We have been using our homemade soap to wash dishes quite a bit lately. 
  • I have been doubling up on cooking fairly frequently lately so that I can freeze an extra meal. This saves money because I can use less energy for cooking and keep my freezer full (so it works more efficiently) that was already going. It also can save money because I am less tempted to want to go out to eat or something like that when I have some quick and easy meals.

  • Our windows had some moisture issues that we needed to get fixed before we listed our house with the Realtor. We didn't think the project sounded like much fun but we did it ourselves rather than hiring it done. We got the job done, it looks much better and we saved a bunch of money in the process.
  • I used old crumbly bread and made homemade croutons for our salad.
  • I have been making bread and pizza dough with squash in it. I can use a food that we are able to get for free (my parents grow a lot of it) and get more nutrition in our diet at the same time.
  • We made homemade gifts to give at a baby shower.
  • I was able to use $10 off $10 or more coupon at JC Penny to buy a gift for a birthday.
  • We have been spending hours talking with contractors and other professionals concerning the house we are planning on building so that we can figure out the ways that we can save money and still get the look and quality we want.
  • We have been feeding our chickens lots of scraps to stretch out the food that we need to buy for them.
What have you been doing to save money lately?

Inspiration from this post comes from the Prudent Homemaker.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

He Keeps His Promises

Some fungi growing on a Birch tree that I thought looked neat.
   Lately I have been reading to the kids each afternoon from the book of Joshua. Just lately we have been reading in the section that details just exactly how all the land was to be divided among the tribes. It isn't exactly what I would call terribly interesting but we read it because we want to know God's word in it's fullness and to gain what insight we can from it.

  Today the last verse of the chapter that we were reading had a thought that made me very glad that I had read it. It was just such a good reminder of who our God is and what He does. It says:

"The Lord promised to do many good things for Israel, and He kept his promise every time." Joshua 24:25

I really like the part about God keeping His promises. I know that He does but sometimes you know you just don't think about that - you just go on with your daily life and don't think about how God is and has kept promises to you over and over again. I am glad for that little reminder to be aware of Him working and be filled with gratitude for what He has done.

What are some promises that God has made to us?

 I thought I would share one with you and then I thought it would be fun if you would share some with me. If you can, please also tell where in the Bible you find that promise.

He has promised us the free gift of eternal life through Jesus. (Romans 6:23). What an awesome promise! He will keep that promise.

Okay, your turn... What promise do you like to cling to?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Happy April To You!

 Well it is April and it is Spring and we may be thinking about flowers, umbrellas and things like that but in reality around here it is looking a bit more like the picture below. This picture was taken last week (I believe) and it did melt some after that but then we had another snow storm last night so we are back to beautiful white! That's quite all right - we will enjoy our April however it should come.
 Though outside it may not always feel much like Winter is close to done, inside we counted up this week and figured out that the kids will pretty much be done with their math by the end of this month. Now that is cause for celebration! I think math is kind of fun and so do some of my kids (though not all of them!) but since math is one of the things that seems to tie us down and make us really have to work hard it is always a celebration when we have finished the books for the year. Jonathan or Megan should get done first, Mara is quickly behind them and then Aaron (to whom Math comes easily but had quite a few more lessons in his book) will probably do some extra lessons so he can get done as soon as the others.

   So much of our learning we do throughout the year but the math book is only done in the school year and when it is done - it is done. So yeah! We will be getting done early! That is perfect because that will give us more time for planting fruit trees on our new property, getting the garden going (at both places), getting things ready for building a house and just enjoying Spring.

How is school going for your household? Do you try to get done early?


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