Friday, November 30, 2007

Christmas Decorating!

Tonight I had a lot of fun decorating our living room and entry way. I decided that I would share some pictures with you. On our piano top I put some silver net like fabric on it first (I had bought the fabric at Walmart for around 50 cents a yard and I used it before at the bridal fair) then I put some evergreen boughs that I had gathered from woods. I then added some pine cones that I have collected and some candles. I also put ribbon (recycled from a friends wedding) interspersed. It was fun just using what I had that were in Christmas colors all over to decorate. Mara and Jonathan helped me a little with the decorating and then we lit all the candles and called Ken and Megan up (Aaron had fallen asleep early) to see what it all looked like. While just in candle light we enjoyed some egg nog. The kids were super excited and it was fun for all of us. Ken then helped us hang up the stockings. These we bought on a after Christmas clearance a couple of years ago and then hot glued gold initials on them.

These two pictures are in the entryway.
Enjoying their bedtime story.
Megan went around trying to blow out the candles. (She is experienced from the birthdays this fall). She did enjoy watching them though.
I hope you are having fun this time of year. We even have snow on the ground outside, so that made everything even more perfect.

Frugal Gift # 4 ~Monogram bookmarks

Today the kids had fun making these bookmarks with a little help from me. (My sister Keren made the one below). I got the idea from Tara at Faith Acre Farm . She has some great instructions for making them. She used smaller beads and they look much more dainty. I want to try some like hers but for the kids the ones we used worked well.

These are very quick to make (I actually used hot glue to attach the ribbon on) and the cost is very minimal. If you know someone who loves to read, this could make a very fun gift.
For more gift ideas, check out "How to have a frugal Christmas."

Homemade granola bars

Here is a recipe for homemade granola bars that are family has enjoyed a lot. They are a lot cheaper than buying little boxes of individually wrapped bars. They are also quick and easy to put together. There only draw back is that they can be a little crumbly. Sometimes they aren't to bad I think it depends on whether they are baked for just the perfect amount of time. Crumbly or not they are very yummy! Yummy homemade granola bars

  • 4 cups oatmeal
  • 1 cup (or a little less) brown sugar
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts or 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 3/4 cup melted butter
  • 3/4 cup orange marmalade or Apple butter (I have also experimented with using some plain apple sauce or cooked squash)
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional)

Mix all the ingredients together well . Press into a 10" x 15" greased pan. Bake at 425 degrees for 15-17 minutes. Cut into pieces and enjoy!

For more Frugal Ideas visit Crystal over at Biblical Womanhood.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Frugal Gift # 3 ~Homemade stationary

I like making stationary for a gift. For one reason it is useful, as long as the person writes letters (and you probably know whether they do or not) it will be used up and not just clutter up someone's house. Another reason is that it is very quick and easy to make and then also it is very inexpensive. Just because it is inexpensive doesn't make it a "Cheap" gift as you can make it nice and if you look at the prices in the store you will find that stationary can cost quite a bit.

For this particular set of stationary (which I made for my mother-in-law, who loves to write long letters) I used some of the paper from a blank pad of paper. The pads of paper had 100 sheets each I and got them on sale for 2/$1 at Walgreens. I also got envelopes on that same sale and I decorated some envelopes to go with them. I used only one stamp for this set of stationary. Usually for stationary you don't want it too busy so you don't need much. I did use two different colors of green ink. If you don't have stamps you could make a cute set using thumb print pictures (this would be especially cute if a child was doing this for their mother or grandmother) or you could do a quick watercolor picture in the corner of each paper.

Something that might be nice to add to this gift is a book of stamps. You can tie it all together with a pretty bow or make a special folder to place the stationary in.

For more of my ideas for frugal gifts go here. Check out "How to have a frugal Christmas" at A call to Higher Places for more ideas.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Frugal Gift # 2 ~ Baby Sweaters

I love baby sweaters. A homemade sweater is even sweeter. The green sweater is one I made a while back and actually gave to a friend for her baby. After her daughter outgrew it she gave it back to me to use for my daughters.
This is one I knitted. There are some details on it that you can't see in the picture but it makes it one of my favorites. I have made several others to give away but I don't have pictures of them. Baby sweaters are pretty fast to make, don't take a lot of yarn so are very economical and have always in my experience been appreciated.
I found some links with patterns that you can go to for ideas and how too.

Have fun!

Works for me Wednesday ~ Bathroom organization

Today I am going to give you a tour of our upstairs bathroom and some of the ways that we organize there. Bathroom are a nice area to organize as usually they have quite a few shelves and drawers. They can also be challenging because we try to put a lot in them. Here are some ways to organize that work for me.
This top picture is of a toilet paper holder that an older lady from church made for us. It is made out of several small coffee cans with the bottoms cut out and taped together to make a long tube. We can store 4 rolls of toilet paper in it. We have it sitting next to the toilet and try to always keep it full. We never have to worry about sitting down and then realize that the toilet paper is all used up!
Next we have a picture of an old orange bag which we put all of the bath toys in and then hang it up on a hook. This works very well because the bag is plastic and full of holes so it allows all the toys to drain. The kids enjoy having the toys to play with and I enjoy having them all in one place and not scattered around the bathroom. It is not the most decorative but it is generally hiding behind the shower curtain and it works for me!

This next picture is how we store our hair things. The basket holds the big scrunchies and rubber bands and the little container holds the metal barrettes. These look fairly decorative and get to sit on the bathroom counter. This has helped us to easily keep all the hair things in order.

In our upstairs bathroom we have no medicine cabinet so when we moved here I had to figure out what to do with medicine, first aid stuff and so forth. I ended up buying these plastic containers which I then filled with our various stuff and we stored in the linen closet. I have one container for first aid stuff, one for extra bought ahead toiletries (I like to buy stuff when it is one sale and have it ahead of time rather that just buying as needed at full price. I also have lots of shampoo bought on sale lined up under the sink and toilet paper in bulk on the floor of the linen closet), One has bug spray, sun screen and things like that and the other has shoe polishing stuff. We did have one with medicine to but now that we have a bathroom downstairs with a medicine cabinet I have moved it there.
Underneath my sink I have a caddy with cleaning stuff in it so it is always ready to go. I also have a bucket of cloth rags which I use for all my cleaning.
Another way that we stay organized is that everybody has their own towel hook. We hang up our towels after a bath or shower and then they can by used again. Rather than having to do tons of laundry because the towels all get thrown on the floor.
I don't think I probably shared anything that is to new or different but maybe It might help you in some way. Anyway it works for me!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Even when life gets crazy, we have much to say Thanks for.

We have had an interesting last day or so. Yesterday was a busy day, I had oodles of laundry, I was cleaning and I had some violins lessons to teach. On Monday morning I also arranged to have some friends come over for supper (some of whom where friends from college who are now missionaries in the Ukraine but are back visiting.). About 10 minutes before they were to arrive for supper (My supper was running a little late anyway) Aaron threw up in the hallway. Ken had been a little sick on Saturday night and then friends at church on Sunday were just getting over it or just coming down with it - so we were definitely exposed. I quickly got him in the tub and tried to get my supper done. After getting in the tub he threw up again. Anyway our company did arrive and they decided they wouldn't worry about the germs.

We had a fun supper. It was great to visit with them. I had to jump up now and then to take care of Aaron, who lost an amazing amount of fluid. After supper we adults had a good time visiting while the kids (except Aaron) had a good time playing. After a bit Jonathan comes to me saying that he doesn't feel good. I quickly got him in bed with a bucket and he quickly threw up (many times). It made for a very interesting evening. The boys had most of it out of their systems by the time I went to bed. I only had to get up twice in the night with Jonathan.

In the morning upon awaking, Megan threw up all over her bed. And then she thinks that she wants to eat breakfast!!! We did have helpings of yogurt all around.

Our house was a little chilly this morning ( 62 degrees) so we checked the outside temperature and it was -20 degrees! We weren't expecting it quite that chilly yet. We figured that our furnace would get caught up soon and just dressed warmly.

I had oodles of laundry to do(bedding from the sick kids) and was very thankful that I am not a pioneer woman who would have had to got outside to get water for all of that stinky laundry and then have to wash it by hand and hang it outside to freeze dry.

The house never did get warmer and then mid afternoon it started to get colder. I called Ken to try to figure out what to do. He decided that he had better call somebody to check out the furnace. The guy came over and found that the lever to shut of the gas had been flipped!! We felt very silly that we hadn't checked that. I don't know how it would have been flipped but I guess maybe the kids might have done it.

Things are going much better now ~ Our house is warm and the kids are feeling better and thankfully Mara and I have not gotten sick. Also the laundry is all washed (though not all folded!).

Here are some things I am thankful for:
  • A washer and dryer!
  • Warm clothes.
  • Hot Chocolate.
  • Snow that we got last night.
  • Sweet children - even when they are sick.
  • Plenty of extra sheets and blankets.
  • Friends who are friends even when we are not perfect and we have kids vomiting in the other room.

Frugal Gift #1 ~ Pinecone Skiers

I love making homemade gifts. I enjoy creating and I also enjoy giving, so homemade gifts puts the two of them together.

These little skiers are a fun winter decoration. They can be set on a shelf, hung on a tree ( add a loop to their hats), used as a place card at the table ( write the name on their ski) , be the finishing touch on a gift or whatever you desire. For a small gift these are nice to give all by themselves.

They are very simple to make, only taking a few minutes to actually put together. All you need is a pine cone (with a fairly flat bottom), Popsicle sticks for skis (you could also could use little pieces of cardboard cut out), a large acorn or some other round object for the head (a wooden ball, a nut, etc.) and material for the scarf (felt, corduroy or some other fabric), toothpicks for the ski poles, markers (or paint) to draw on the face and hot glue sticks and gun for putting it together.

To assemble line up the skies as desired and then put a little glue on each one where you want to attach the pine cone. Stick it on and the put a little glue on the top of the pine cone and firmly press in the head. Let it harden and then you can glue on the hat. For our hats we used the caps of acorns. You could also make one out of the finger tip of an old glove, a little bit of felt or make earmuffs using pipe cleaner or a twist tie and felt. Next you could tie on the scarf which you cut to be the length desired and then fringe the ends. After you tie on the scarf put a dab of glue on the end of each toothpick and stick it up under the scarf so that it comes out at an angle like ski poles. Next draw the face as you desire. Now you are all done! There are many ways you could do this differently- allow yourself to be creative! Use what you have on hand and maybe make a family of skiers each with its own personality.

I have a lot of different ideas for homemade gifts, I am hoping to post one a day for a week or so or maybe all the way until Christmas. Keep checking back and hopefully you will find something that you can use. Also I would love to hear about what you are making!

To see other gift ideas go to "Whats on your frugal gift list" hosted by Pure Joy.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Wise Words

"Let love be without hypocrisy, Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in in honor; Not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practising hospitality."
Romans 12:9-13

What a lot of great advice in a few short verses. The whole chapter of Romans 12 is full of wonderful words of wisdom. My kids and the other kids in our Wednesday night class at church have been learning this chapter. It has been great review for me as well since I had grown rusty on it from when I learned it as a child. Have you been doing any memorizing lately? This chapter is a great one to do. I challenge you to memorize God's word, it is very useful!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The night we light parade.

Last night we enjoyed watching "The night we light" parade. It was chilly out but that didn't stop people from coming. The streets were quite crowded. There were quite a few fun floats. I took a video of one that was quite cute and one of a bell choir but I am not able to upload videos tonight.
The kids had fun collecting candy ~ now if we can just stay on top of the tooth brushing!

We dressed very warmly and brought hot chocolate with us and blankets but even so my toes were a little chilly but not to bad. Some friends, Linson and Priya and my sister Keren also joined us to watch the parade.
We are also lit up here at home. Ken worked yesterday and today and got all the lights up at our house. This is the finished product! The white lights are for me as they are what I like best (I would do only white if it were just me choosing.) and the colored lights are for the rest of the family.

All of this makes me feel like decorating inside. Hopefully I will get around to working on that next week. I hope you are also enjoying this time of year!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

We want to wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving! I hope you had time to thank God for all the good things in your life.
"Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful song. Know that the Lord is God; It is He who made us, and we are His people, the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise his name. For He is good. His love endures forever and his faithfulness to all generations." Psalm 100

We had a great day. I got to get up at 6 am to put the Turkey in. It was cool because I had a couple hours of quiet time before anybody else woke up. This morning I also made that bouquet of yellow roses out of coffee filters. It was a lot of fun. For how to make these roses go here. We went out to Mom and Dad's for Thanksgiving dinner. It was a lot of fun. It was a pretty international meal with 11 people from other countries eating with us. After the meal we had a lot of fun putting together a puzzle of the world.

We learned quite a bit about geography. Here is the finished product.

Megan got a little worn out from the days activities. And fell asleep on Mom and Dad's floor.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Alphabet Animals

For something else to add to the Alphabet adventures, go check out the alphabetic list of animals over at Eckert Escapades.

Work for me Wednesday ~Kitchen organization

Works for me Wednesday is hosted over at Rocks in my Dryer
and it is a fun day of learning about what simple tricks people have learned or just things that they do to make their life easier. I am hoping to start participating regularly as I think it will be fun. Also I am hoping to do a series of posts on organizing mostly because I thought it would be good motivation for me!! Lately I have been working on organizing my kitchen so I thought I would share some of the things that I have done that Work for me!
My kitchen is on the small side which when we moved here a couple of years ago was a huge adjustment for me as the kitchen I had before was quite large. I had barely gotten everything to fit and then I had been given gifts that went into the kitchen so it was full and overflowing and then my Mother-in-law gave me an early birthday present of two new glass cake pans. I loved them but had absolutely no space for them. I decided it was time for the kitchen to have a complete going over.
In the past few weeks I have gone through and cleaned out every cupboard and drawer and also completely cleaned on top of all the cupboards. I ended up with a big box to get rid of (give away or garage sale). I also figured out a few ways to make things fit better.
I have a drawer for baking supplies where my cookie cutters were rather taking over. I found this old cookie box and was able to fit all of them in it. That has made my baking drawer much more orderly.
My "junk" drawer was also a bit of a mess. I took the various picnic stuff out and decided to just store them in the picnic basket which sits on top of one of my cupboards, I took some various crafty stuff out and put them with my craft supplies. Then I took some extra mugs from my crowded mug shelf and used one to put twist ties in and the other for rubber bands and clips. I then lined the boxes up neatly and had space for my "bag bag" which I store grocery bags in which had previously been under the sink. I also made another "bag bag" to store food bags that I have washed out for reuse. (thought I am afraid I made it to small and I think I will have to make another). It is nice to have a much neater "junk" drawer.

Under my sink I was able to organize so that I had space to set up a place for recycling. I have a paper bag for paper and cardboard and then another place for cans and such. When these get full then I can dump them in our bigger recycling containers which are downstairs in our laundry room. This has been vary nice to have this upstairs and handy, as I was a little lazy about running little scraps of paper downstairs to recycling when the trash was so handy. Now both the kids and I have been recycling a lot more!

I also thought I would share with you an organizational tool that has worked very well for us. On the back of cupboard doors I have put our schedules. One is for the kid's chores, one is my daily jobs and the other is my monthly, seasonal and yearly jobs. On the inside of another door is our menu. I like putting them on the inside of doors as that makes them quite handy but also out of view as they aren't really decorative.

It is so nice to have it all clean an organized, hopefully I can keep it that way! I would to love to hear about some things that work for you in organizing your kitchen.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Making rolls to share

Today we made 12 dozen butterhorn rolls. We were making some to donate to the community Thanksgiving dinner and then some were for our Thanksgiving dinner. We also ate some today, because they are so very yummy fresh.

I thought I would share the recipe with you in case you were looking for an extra yummy roll for your Thanksgiving dinner.

Butterhorn Rolls

  • 4 1/2 to 5 cups flour (I use around 3/4 of it whole wheat)

  • 2 packages Yeast

  • 1/3 cup dry milk

  • 1 cup water

  • 1/2 cup melted butter or margarine or oil

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 2 eggs

  • 1/4 cup butter (melted for spreading on top)

In large mixing bowl combine 2 cups flour, yeast, sugar and dry milk. Add warm water that is around 125 degrees. Then add oil (or melted butter or margarine) and eggs, mix well. Stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can. On a lightly floured surface, knead in enough remaining flour to make a moderately stiff dough. (around 3-5 minutes). Shape into a ball. Place into a greased bowl , cover and let rise until double.

Punch dough down. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide in half. Cover and let rest 10 minutes. Grease baking sheets. Roll each ball into a 12 inch circle. Brush with melted butter. Use a pizza cutter to cut each circle into 12 pieces (like a pizza). Take the wide end and roll it to the point. Place point side on the pan and let it rise until nearly double and then bake at 350 degrees for around 10 minutes. Watch carefully so that the bottoms do not burn.

This is an extremely light roll even when made from mostly whole wheat. I hope you enjoy!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Wedding floral business ~ Money making Monday

One of my more recent ways to make money was to start my own business doing wedding flowers. It has been a very fun experience. I have long loved flowers but when I was in Bible college in Iowa I was able to get a job at a florist where I was trained to be a floral designer. After Mara was born I quit working but did flowers for quite a few friends weddings. Though I like working with flowers in general I really enjoyed doing weddings. I continued to do flowers for friend's weddings and then a couple of people heard about me and hired me to do their flowers as well. At that time I began dreaming of doing it as a business as I didn't have as many friends getting married to give me as much time with flowers as I would like.

Last December Ken and I started talking about it seriously and then got to work to get this business started. I was very thankful for Ken who went through a huge book for me to figure out all the laws about starting home businesses in MN. Ken also set up my website for me. I worked out figuring out the best and cheapest place to get fresh flowers, working on what would be in my brochure, making a reservation to be in a bridal show, making a portfolio of pictures, designing my logo, making a banner and figuring out how it would all work.

I did the Bridal show in January which was quite a bit of work but a neat experience. Throughout this past Spring and Summer I did several weddings. I have had a lot of fun visiting with brides and getting to work with flowers. I still have a lot of growing to do to get where I would like it to be but it has been a good start.
I thought I would share some of the advertising that I have done as possibly it would work also for you in any home business that you might be trying.

  • Having a booth at the Bridal show. This is the most expensive thing we have done but we did get results. It cost $150 (I believe) for a booth (the different bridal shows in our town varied- I chose one of the cheapest). I also had to buy flowers to show at my booth.

  • Sending out brochures. This has been a good method but I am not able to know all of the brides in my area, so it is far from a complete method. I send them out to the people that are in the engagement section of our newspaper and then any others that I hear of.

  • Newspaper ad in the wedding section. We found a fairly cheap ad in what they call the wedding showcase. As far as I know we haven't gotten any results from this.

  • Putting my brochure at other wedding venues. From what I understand it is very good to get to know others that are in the wedding business so that they will refer you, so I have worked to do that.

  • Word of mouth. Ken and I both are quick to tell others (even if they themselves are not getting married) about my new business.

  • Another thing I tried (and I don't know the results) which is kind of different but it is this: I was checking out a lot of books from the library about weddings(in order to be better educated) so I decided to place a brochure or business card in them when I returned them since I would figure most people that look at those books are getting married.

  • I placed brochures other places. Ken has them at his office, I put them at the Library and a friend who works at the University put some there.

  • Online. I have been able to be found fairly well by this. I have a website which people can go to and see pictures of my work and find out about how I do my business and what I can do for them. Many people appreciate being able to find out about the business online before actually contacting the person. Having a website has been very important! I have also used other online service directories to help to get my name out there farther. (They often have a higher ranking in the search engines so my ad in their site comes up before my website does.) I have used only free directories. My favorite one has been Merchant Circle. They let you have information about your business, a link to your website (if you have one), other contact information, a photo slide show, coupons that show up on other local merchant's sites and a business blog. The way I found directories was to Google words that went along with my business and when a directory came up than I would check to see if a listing on it was free.

I have really enjoyed working on my floral business. It is something I have been able to do at home. The kids are learning a lot about it and are looking forward to being old enough to help a lot. Another thing that has made it nice is that Weddings are generally on weekends so when I need to go deliver flowers then Ken is around to watch the kids. (They have come with me on some deliveries though.) Doing this business has also given me the excuse to research and read a lot about weddings. (which I love, even if mine is all done.)

I hope these ideas help if this is something you are looking into. Even if you have no intention of doing flowers maybe the advertising ideas will work for other businesses.

For more money making ideas go to Money Saving Mom and come back here next week to learn about some of the other things that I have done to make money.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Boundary lines

"Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup;
You have made my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me
in pleasant places;
Surely I have a delightful inheritance."
Psalm 16:5 & 6
This has long been a portion of scripture that I have liked, largely I am sure because it is one of my Dad's favorite verses. Tonight at church Dad had a sermon/class on these verses. We like these verses because that is how we feel. God has blessed us over abundantly. He gives us a delightful inheritance. He loves us so much and takes care of everything we possibly need. How can we help but have our hearts overflowing with gratitude to Him. God is so Good!
One thing Dad brought up tonight and then I got to thinking on it even more afterwards, is how God gives us boundary lines. Sometimes we don't like boundary lines, they make us want to rebel and do other than what we ought to. Anytime God gives us boundary lines it is for our good. He wants only what is best for us and gives us boundary lines to make our lives better.
One of the areas that I was thinking about tonight where I am so thankful God gave us boundary lines is in marriage. God has a perfect plan for marriage. When we try to have a marriage our own way filled with all our selfishness it doesn't work very well, but when people follow God's plan for marriage, it is a beautiful thing!
A boundary line in Marriage that is often rebelled against is the Husband being the head of the home, the leader( 1Cor. 11:3, Eph. 5:22). I certainly haven't always been perfect at following my leader but I am working at it. This is a boundary line that I am truly thankful for however. I appreciate very much being able to have Ken to make important decisions and to lead in areas that I am not sure about. As in most healthy marriages, Ken and I discuss major decisions that are to be made and I pray about them but then Ken is left in most cases to make the final decision. For myself (as a normal emotional woman) that is very comforting.
Another boundary line in marriage that is often being thrown out in our day is that of being committed to only your spouse physically. Adultery sadly is very common. This however is not something God approves of (Heb. 13:4). I am so thankful for this boundary line. I can't imagine the stress there would be in marriage if this was something that was going on.
There are many other boundary lines that God has given us that are for our own good. What are some of your favorites and why?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

We are so blessed!

When I was thinking about all of the good deals that we have gotten this week to post for Super Saving Saturday @Moneysavingmom, I got to feeling so overwhelmingly blessed. God is so very good to us and takes care of us so over abundantly.
Some of God's blessing this week have been:

~On Wednesday when I was watching some friends kids for the morning they also brought us 4 chickens that they had butchered. Fresh, wholesome meat, Yea!

~On Thursday morning our friend Eric called and said he had gotten another deer (his 4th this year and today he got another!) and he wondered if we would like it. I said sure! Ken and I have no idea how to deal with a deer but Eric gutted it, and then he and my dad hung it up. This morning we went out there and Eric (with a little help from Ken) skinned it and then Dad helped us cut it up and I packaged it. It is now in our freezer, except for what I have in the fridge for tomorrows dinner.

~On Thursday morning the kids and I went shopping and found some good deals on groceries and clothes for presents. (I had taken pictures of them but I can't find the pictures on my computer now.) One of my favorite deals was 3 men's dress shirts that I found at JC Penneys to use for gifts. I found all of them on clearance (They originally were around $30 each) and they came up to $21 with tax. I had a $10 off coupon so the total for the 3 shirts was $11. I guess I was especially pleased with this deal because I like to buy (or make) gifts ahead of time which I usually do fairly well except with men's gifts and now I have 3 men's gifts sitting and waiting.

~On Friday afternoon I was downtown at Ken's office helping out and I happened to look out the window across the street and there was a bunch of furniture with a free sign on it. The office building was getting new tenants and I guess stuff had been left behind that they were getting rid of. I ended up getting a nice office chair for my desk, a shelf that I plan to put in my office/craft room, and a tall file cabinet in good condition. I also called and told my dad about it and he came and got a desk, a cabinet and a file cabinet. The owners were glad to get rid of the stuff and we were happy to get it. So far I only have the office chair at home as we stuck it in Ken's office and then had no way to haul it. Dad was planning on hauling it for me but got so much stuff of his own that he didn't have room! Tomorrow he plans on bringing it home for me after church.

I have found our God to be so good. He gives far beyond what we ever need!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Staying healthy!

This past month we having been working on something new. It seemed to me that we had been getting sick more than we should be (even though we really work on eating healthfully) so I decided we would try to get more fresh air and heart pumping exercise as well as trying to drink a lot more water.

So far we haven't gotten sick but that isn't to surprising since we have been doing not quite a month yet but that is not the only blessing. We have been having a lot of fun. We are an active family anyway but when cold weather comes I tend to not go out a lot (even when the kids will go out) and even though I am active I don't generally do a lot of exercise that gets my heart really beating.

Some of the things that we have really enjoyed doing so far is to play soccer, football (my version with my rather vague memories of the rules), jogged, jumped rope and run around the yard while leaping. Since we are in the middle of our Alphabet adventures we have been having fun figuring out activities that start with the right letter.

After exercising out in the cool air it can really make you feel more energetic. I would really recommend it. I am looking for suggestions for very active outdoor exercise that is fun for kids and me, so if you have any ideas, please comment.

The drinking of water has gone fairly well. But I am still not drinking as much as I would like. I have been trying to have a water bottle or glass handy most of the time which does help. Do you have any ways that make you drink the amount of water that you think you should?

Candle making for frugal gifts

This week we had fun making candles. The way we did it was extremely frugal and can be used to make lovely gifts.
I took old candles that were not very nice looking, short crayons and some old sealing wax and we melted them down. I used old cans inside kettles of water for a double boiler method. I believe this is safer than just putting a pan of wax on the stove.
Heat it until it is all melted. You can use an old spoon (warning: it will get all waxy, so don't expect to use it for food again.) or a paint stick to stir it and to take the old wicks from the old candles out with.
After it is all melted you can remove it from the heat to work with. There are 3 different kinds of candles that I can think of that you can make with this. You can dip them, mold them or just pour them into a container that you will use them in. We did some of each.

For each you will need a wick. We used some thick cotton string. For dipping we tied the strings to a stick (or flopped it over a ruler) and then just dipped it into the wax, letting it harden in between dippings. Just keep dipping until you reach the desired size. Also pay attention to the end of the candle during this time and flatten it out with your finger every so often. Some of the kids tried making striped candles by taking turns dipping it into different colors (we had a pot of blue, red and brown). The candles they did that way actually turned out rather neat.
For molds we used some little dixie cups. I placed a twist tie over the top and tied the wick to that and then poured the wax in. When the wax was all hard I tore the cup off. This mold worked quite well for a little votive candle. Another Mother was telling me that their family made floating candles by using little fluted tart pans, greasing them and making the candle in there.
We also made candles in some little baby food jars. I intend to decorate this lid later either by covering with cloth and a ribbon or something or painting them. I am also thinking about painting a little decoration on the outside of the jar. In the past we have used various kinds of container: Tuna cans, glass cups and tea cups to name a few.

Our candle making went very well except for one minor problem which I thought I would see if any of you knew the answer too. Many of the ones that we poured in something ended up with sunken spots. Some were a lot worse than others. Does anybody know how this happens or how to correct it? We were wondering if maybe air got trapped in there and then got out as it dried. I thought maybe I should pour them in layers instead of all at once. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

The candle burning is one that Jonathan made. Mara and Keren are displaying some of their creations. Keren molded one of hers while it was still soft to be curvy.
If anybody has any questions on the process I would be glad to try to answer.


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