Saturday, May 21, 2022

Our AirBnB is Up and Running!

   After over a year of working on our basement on free evenings and weekends I finally got it listed on AirBnB on April 16th (though it didn't go live until the next day). You can see the listing here. This project definitely stretched me as I learned how to trim windows, hang doors, lay laminate flooring, trim floors, put mud and  texture on walls and more. I had to refresh my tile laying skills and figure out how we would make this work to have other people (that we didn't know) in and out of our home. Everything - even the fun and fairly easy things like decorating took time. I was so blessed by the many people that helped me out as I worked on this project and the many more that encouraged me. 

   While working on it there were certainly many times I wondered if this would actually work. Would people actually pay to stay in our basement? Was there a need for a place like ours? 

   I guess the answer is "Yes!". Just hours after the listing went live I had an inquiry about someone look to come for the month of August. That one didn't end up working out as our place really isn't set up for long term stays and the guest was wanting a quiet place to write a book and our place might not be that quiet. :-) Then we did got for almost a week without any other interest but then the next Sunday afternoon 4 bookings came in within an hour or so. We have now had 2 sets of guests stay with us and next month is pretty packed with guests and then we have quite a few more booked later in the summer as well. I have also had 2 separate parties talk to me about pretty much filling up the rest of my summer as one is coming here a couple of days a week for work and would like to stay here and the other is interning here and is interested in staying as much as I have open. I said that I would like to meet both of them first before I commit to them being here for so long so they are both coming in early June. We shall see what happens.

     I had decided that if it didn't work to do AirBnB it would still be nice to have a finished basement but I am thankful that God has truly blessed with sending people to stay with us. Our first two sets of guests were super easy and fun to have. If everyone is that easy that will be a huge blessing!

Here are a few (maybe a lot???) pictures....

The eating area. My sister Keren was getting rid of this cute table and gave it to me and my sister Anna did the same with the chairs. My brother Luke gave Aaron this old radio which I polished up and thought it looked cute as a place for the coffee pot and water dispenser. My brother Peter made the coat rack for us years ago and I thought it went well with my look. The bright light in the corner is an old lantern that had some glass broken on it so I was able to stuff it full of Christmas lights for some extra lighting. There is not windows in this room and I thought it was a little dark. I was able to use a couple of photos that Mara had taken for decor in this room.
My Dad had cut this wood "frame" for me when he was cutting up trees from our place on his sawmill. I liked it but didn't know what to do with it. When I was decorating this room I really wanted to use it to go with the Paul and Babe/Logging theme. My niece Heidi suggested that I make a background picture in it to go along with my little birch canoe that I placed in the foreground. I still want to add some 3D Iris and Cattails in the foreground as well but even without it I kind of like the way it turned out.
I made this little kitchenette from scraps of wood that we had on hand. Mom and Dad had this little fridge that they gave to me to use. I found the microwave last summer at a garage sale. God really blessed with that - I don't have much time to go to garage sales but I knew I needed a microwave and coffeepot and so a couple of different Saturdays when I was out delivering wedding flowers I stopped at a couple of sales and I found both of those items and spent a total of $15. I did also get some pretty red mugs for 25 cents each at a sale. My sister Martha gave me a toaster,  my sister Keren an electric tea kettle and a little crockpot came from my neighbor. God so abundantly provides!!!

    The Paul and Babe on the top of the shelf were something I made from Paper Mache to go in the Christmas window scene at Ken's office. When he sold the business I said I wanted Paul and Babe.
I made a new rug for the bathroom. I am loving the bright colors that was have going on in here. The paint I found at the dump. The towels were some my friend Heidi had but didn't need when she moved (they were a whole set and brand new) so she gave them to me. The tile I bought for a good deal at the Habitat ReStore. 

I had to include a picture of one of my favorite helpers!
I found this picture in a Calendar and loved how the colors and subject matter went along with my bathroom and the basement in general so I decided to frame it for a decoration. Eventually I want some photos that we have taken or some art that we or somebody we know has made but for now I am enjoying this picture.
In the bedroom we also have  desk area to work at. I love how light and bright this room is even though it is in the basement.
My friend Christy gave me some rustic looking picture frames. I found some old local pictures (a couple we had from a local museum and the rest I found online and printed out and then rubbed with shoe polish to make them look like an old black and white photo) and put them in the frames. 
The playhouse has been enjoyed by many of our friends little ones and One AirBnB guest and her grandkids have already made use of it as well. It is underneath our stairs.

There is a bit room with ping-pong if people want.

  Once our first guest booked we had to work fast to get all the final things done. That was a week of very little free time and not a lot of sleep but it was so fun to finally get it all done! We had decided that if we had guests we would put up a door between our Kitchen (and the majority of our house) and the Side door that goes into our laundry room and then from there you can go down into the basement. 
 We couldn't put in a regular door - there wasn't a place that there was room to swing it- so we decided on this style of door. I am so grateful for parents who are so incredibly supportive and help me so much! I was going to tackle the door but felt a little in over my head and my kids thought I should get some help on this project too. Dad and Mom to the rescue! They went shopping with me on Monday (after the Sunday booking) to figure out what we needed to get. We managed to get a whole sheet of plywood in my mini van. Then they came over that evening and Dad cut it for me. Then I sanded it that night and put on the first coat of paint. I got up early the next day for painting the other side. Through the day I was able to find a couple of breaks between music lessons to get a 2nd coat on each side and that night Mom and Dad came back to help me hang it. It was ready in plenty of time before our guests came on Friday.
Though I think it would have been kind of fun to get to really know our guests and have them in our main living area more the kids are much more comfortable with this set up so that is good. 

   Our first two sets of guests were really nice and pretty quiet and left our place very, very clean. I am so thankful.  Though I know it may not always be quite this easy I do feel that God is really blessing this experience. He provides for us so well!

  I don't know if any of you have ever thought of hosting with AirBnB but if you think it would be neat I encourage you to give it a try. Their website is super easy to work with too. You just have to upload pictures, answer some questions and add some details. It is pretty nice. You communicate with people through AirBnB and get paid through them as well and it all goes quite smoothly. If you ever think it would be fun to host with AirBnB I encourage you to use this link as it would give you an extra $40 when you get your first booking and I also would be blessed financially if you go through my link.  I would appreciate that! :-)

  Anyway - that is some of what is going on my life and it has been a lot of fun! I was just looking through my pictures and realized there are tons of other things I would like to blog about but there just isn't time to do everything. This coming week will be a busy one as I am teaching Sunday School tomorrow (I have been teaching on the Sermon on the Mount to about 8 boys - and sometimes a couple of girls- ages 5-8 each Sunday and it has been such fun!!!0 and then in the afternoon I have the recital for my music students. 18 of them are playing (quite a few couldn't or wouldn't). The week will be filled with work- at the Florist, teaching lessons and working on Abbi's Bridal Design as I have several quotes to write- and then on Saturday is Aaron's Graduation Open House. So a busy but very fun week!

  I hope your week is blessed!

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Is He Worthy?

This is one of my favorite songs and one that is super meaningful to me right now. We do live in a broken world - I have seen the evidence of that over and over again just lately. People who don't know the truth of the scriptures and if they do they are choosing to go a different direction. I see a world in desperate need of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There are so many that are hurting and broken. Thankfully that brokenness and pain is not the end of the story. Jesus can change those lives. Jesus can erase confusion. Jesus has the truth. Jesus is worthy of all of our praise. He is indeed worthy!

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Homeschool Co-op Day

Last week Megan and I went to our Homeschool Co-op. It is a once a month thing but I have only made it to 2 or 3 this year as I usually work on Thursday mornings. Megan has been able to go with my sister Keren who lives nears us and has kids old enough for co-op this year.

The activity of the day was making fun foods. I was in charge of having the kids make fruit bouquets. They aren't quite professional quality yet but they were fun to do and the kids seem to enjoy eating them as well.
Some of the kids with Sara teaching made these cute little chicks.
Emily and a group of young ones made veggie insects.

Keren led this under the sea sort of dessert.

MollyBea helped some of them make little sweet sheep.
Tara made resurrection rolls with her group. This is a really fun idea. I guess the had a marshmallow that represented Jesus. They rolled it in spices and place it in some dough (the tomb) and placed it in the oven. When it baked the dough tomb popped open on its own. The Marshmallow was supposed to be completely gone but that didn't quite happen. Still it is pretty fun.

Katy led a group in making some cute decorated rice crispy bars. Altogether it was a fun morning.

Megan is always a good helped.
Eden was in our group and was a great flower fruit maker. Tavi came to join him and help out when his group had finished their project.

More helpers that came after they had already worked in their original group.

   This time of going to co-op was pretty bittersweet. It was probably my last time. Oh, I probably will visit again sometime but after 11 years of leading the group and this year of being somewhat involved I am moving on. Aaron graduates this year and Megan will be a Junior in highschool next year and will probably be doing early college (PSEO for Minnesotans) next year and is ready to be done with co-op now anyway and I am working. It is time to move on. But I will admit I have shed some tears. 

   In our homeschool co-op I have had the opportunity to learn a lot, to work with, encourage and be encouraged by some pretty wonderful people. Some great friendships have been formed and I have been very blessed. Thankfully I don't have to be in co-op to be friends and I have other opportunities to teach children. 

  Thinking about homeschool co-op prompted me to look through old pictures. Here are some that brought back some good memories of homeschool co-op...
Aaron as Lief Erickson (Or was it Eric the Red???)
Jonathan as Abraham Lincoln
Megan as Laura Ingalls.
Another year... Mara was a suffragete, Jonathan was Wilbur or Orville Wright and Megan was a nurse in WW1.

Learning about the Scandinavian roots of many Minnesotans was super fun one year.

We quilted together!
We put on a big drama. So many fun things!!!
I wanted to share a bunch more pictures but realized that I have blogged about a lot of the events in the past so if you would like to see more about our homeschool co-op years you can look through this group of posts.

I would love to hear if you have been involved in homeschool co-op and your thoughts on it.


Saturday, April 2, 2022

Showing Hospitality

This past weekend we were super blessed to be able to host some friends at our house when they were up here to go to a Retreat at our church. I was raised in a home where we often had guests over - either for a meal or to stay a night or so. Many of the guests were people we knew and loved but many of them were strangers to us when they first came. I loved that environment of having people come into our home and so I have tried to live that way too as much as possible.

   You may not have been raised that way but if you don't practice hospitality I would encourage you to start. You will find it to be such a blessing.

   Just so you know, your home doesn't have to be finished, it does not have to be beautiful, it doesn't have to be perfectly clean (or even clean at all - I do think that is a nice thing to try for but if that stops you from inviting others over then just invite them when it is dirty). You don't have to be a good cook and you don't have to be a great conversationalist.

   I do always like to clean before company comes and I did try to do it some but this year I was both sick and very busy shortly before our company came. So not everything got done real well and I had to rely on the kids to do a lot of things - like making the beds and cleaning the bedrooms and cooking the company supper. Though I would like to be there to make sure it is good and ready to go I couldn't be this year and it still went fine. 

   As far as entertaining goes - be a good listener and ask questions about what they say and about what they are interested in and I am guessing you can learn a lot and having a interesting conversation. As for yourself - just be real and open.

   As far as food goes - if your family eats what you cook I am sure company can too. Or if you buy pizza every night - share that with company, they will probably love it. If company offers to help you cook or clean-up- let them. It makes being hospitable so much more fun. If you are the company - do offer to help. Better conversations are often had while working anyway.

  Those are just a bunch of my opinions but I do think there is some value in them. I just really want to encourage you to reach out - to people in your church, to neighbors, to co-workers, to friends you haven't seen in a while, College students, etc. When we really get to know people (and hospitality really helps with that) we can understand them better, we can have more compassion for them and we can truly share with them the things that really matter to us. 

I thought it would be fun to get some pictures of our household at Retreat this year but I thought it was so fun to see the number difference between the males and the females at our house. As you might imagine this group can eat quite a bit. But my guests even brought stuff to help out that way so it certainly was no burden on me.

  The Bible does talk about hospitality. Here are a few verses on it....

"and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the Lord’s people, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds." 1 Timothy 5:10

 "Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined." Titus 1:8

"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling." 1 Peter 4:8 & 9

"Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. " Romans 12:13

I would love to hear your thoughts on hospitality. Is it something you practice or is it hard for you? Do you have any tips or thoughts you would like to share?

Saturday, March 19, 2022

We Love to Make Things

   It has felt like crafting central around here lately. We have a Retreat coming up at church this next weekend and I am a directing a kid's play for it on next Saturday afternoon. It is the Story of Esther. Megan wrote the script for it and volunteered to be in charge of the costumes and set and so this last month our house has been a center of creativity. We do also like to have other projects going on because that is just life for us. On Tuesday I went around taking pictures of things that we were currently working on or just finished. There are also in here a couple of pictures from a few days earlier.
The Crowns for Xerxes, Vashti and Esther as well as Xerxes scepter.
A backdrop for the Harem. Megan copied a Mosaic that she had found in her research of Persia.
Not associated with the play but a project that I have been working on. I am nearly done knitting a pair of mittens. These stay by my piano and when I am teaching lessons I often have a few minutes here and there to knit a bit.
A decoration for the Palace. Megan paper mached a 2 headed Bull. This came from her extensive research on what decorations would have been like. I am sorry I didn't get a pictures after it was painted as it looks pretty cool. 
This photograph is hard to see but Megan had watched a video on how to make a pattern that fit perfectly and so she went about drawing up a pattern and is working on something for herself. I think she is making a prototype at this point. I am so grateful to God for her desire to learn new things and be willing to step out and try things.
I am working to make pointed toe slippers for the cast. I am hoping I can actually get this done because at the moment I am not sure that I have time to do this and direct the play as well. I get a limited amount of time with the kids and I need to do some more measuring to make this fit so we will see if this actually gets done or not.
I am working on a rag rug for the new bathroom in our basement. My goal is to have it done by the time company comes on Friday. We shall see!

A week ago today this was my project. A birthday present for my nephew. He is into eagles just now.
It was a really fun project and I liked the way it turned out. I used white felt for the base and I had thought I would use brown felt on it but I didn't have enough. So I used other fabric scraps instead and I actually think that it looks cooler that way anyway. Mara helped my some in the cutting out of the feathers.
My nephew was pretty excited about it too. :-)
Megan making goblets for the play.

  I wish I would have taken pictures of some of the cool dresses and robes that she has sewn for the play but I guess I will try to do that later. They are pretty creative.

   I have some thoughts that I would like to share to go along with this post. When some people see the things we make and like to work on they sometimes make comments like: "You are so talented, I wish I had some of that talent" or I hear comments about thinking it would be fun to do more crafting but it is so expensive or they don't have time or whatever.

    Here is the deal..... if you actually want to do creative things don't make excuses - just do it. Obviously having a home that is crafting central is not for everybody. Some people think it kind of looks fun but it isn't truly something that they find fulfilling or a good way to use their time. That is fine, accept that and go ahead an admire what other people do but don't put yourself down in the process - you do what God has created you to do.

But if you truly want to make things and be creative - do it!

The only reason Megan and I (and all the other super creative people I know) can do things like sew a dress, knit a mitten or create a paper mache 2 headed Bull is because we weren't afraid to try. A lot of the things we make are a long way from perfect but as we keep trying we keep getting better at things and projects become much easier as well.

 Concerning the expense - Our projects rarely cost us much of anything. Here is why:

For things like props - they often can be made from Cardboard that we easily can get free. We have painted a lot of them from leftover paint from our home and from paint that we picked up for free from the dump. Check that out if you are needing paint. I think most dumps set aside partially full cans of paint. 

For fabric things we have made a ton of them from old clothes which we easily can get for free just by saving things that we ourselves wear out and then if you ask around people will start donating gladly.

We have also gotten fabric scraps very inexpensively from Anderson Fabrics a place in our area that does a lot of commercial sewing. Check around your area to see what you can find for crafting deals. 

Once you start doing a lot of creating and people find out about it at least in my case I get offered crafting stuff over and over since they know I use it. So our crafting closet is overflowing - not because I go shopping - but because I say "yes" when people offer my things that they no longer want.

  When you go to create things - always first ask yourself "How can I make this from what I already have?" NOT "What do I need to buy at the store?".

   Crafting from things found in nature (pinecones, birch bark, sticks, grasses, etc) is a great way to craft on the cheap.

Also you probably will have to buy a few things but in general our crafting budget is well under $50 a year. We use a hot glue gun and glue sticks a lot in our crafting. I have asked for glue sticks for a birthday presents before but I think I have only received them once. So that is an item that I do have to buy occasionally (in 5 lb boxes off of Amazon). We have also given Megan things like Gold and Silver paint for birthdays. So if you have a crafting child - crafting supplies can make good presents.

  Concerning time - I don't have a lot of it either. I work a part time job, run two businesses, have 3 kids at home - 2 of whom I am homeschooling and am very involved at my church. But creating is important to me. So I have projects that I will pick up here or there when I have a minute or two. And sometimes I will devote a whole evening to it or some time on the weekend. If you get to ride when you drive places that is a great time to crochet or knit. A few minutes here and there can actually get a lot done.

   I am so thankful for the many, many ways that God has blessed us in being able to craft and make things. It is a fun bonding activity for Megan and I. I would love to hear about things that you all are making at your houses. How do you find time for crafting? How to you do it economically? 

Monday, March 7, 2022

Some Violin Videos from January

   This year a fun goal for me that I decided to work on was to record a song (or songs) on a different instrument each month. And no, I don't actually play 12 instruments. So this is a challenge for me as well. I think it is good to try to stretch myself so this is one way of working on it this year.

   I did start of rather easy as I have played the violin since I was 12. I was working and stretching myself with playing a classical piece that I never managed to get recorded. My phone didn't have the space for that long of song and I didn't manage to get it done on another camera. I was going to still try to do it but decided that now that it was March I should just not worry about it anymore and work on the other instruments. So the two I did get recorded are a Hymn and a fiddle tune. I hope you enjoy them!



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