Sunday, April 29, 2007

You know it's warmer when....

...all the suburbanite homeowners start firing up their lawn mowers.

...I start drinking iced tea and iced chai {instead of hot tea & hot chai}. open the windows to let in the breeze. jackets!

...lemonade is really refreshing.

...flip-flops are {really} appropriate {as opposed to my wearing them when the weather is frigid}. socs with my Crocs ;>)

...I feel like hanging my clothes out on a line {even though I don't have a clothesline}. plan outdoor field trips, like the zoo!

...{insert your answer here}

Thursday, April 26, 2007

How does your garden grow?

One of the great things about the official start of spring & the warming weather is thoughts about what I will plant this year. We are blessed to have had some nice landscaping to begin with, but I have really enjoyed adding my own personal touches. Since I love to cook, herbs are a must. Last year I transplanted chives from my grandma's garden and they grow like weeds. Really. If you want some, let me know. You can have 'em! I bought rosemary and thyme plants this season and have planted them in hanging planters on my deck. Now all I need is basil!! {Basil is my favorite herb. I think I may try to plant several varieties if I can find them.} I have strawberry plants that I transplanted from my grandma as well and they seem to be doing quite nicely, already having sent out runners and forming two more little baby plants. I have yet to decide what to do with my flower bed off of my patio. Last year I did annuals, but I am wondering if perennials mixed with a few annuals might be better for me. If you want a great plant that flowers throughout the summer & spreads very nicely, get a Wave Petunia. I loved how they overflowed the bed and spilled out onto the patio.

What are you growing {or planning to grow} this season? Here are some resources that I have been using lately to research plants:

Backyard Gardener

Gardenweb Forums

Illinois Best Plants

Friday, April 20, 2007

Money, Possessions & Eternity the name of the book I am reading by Randy Alcorn. From the back jacket, here are some of the questions it address:
  • Why is money so important to God?
  • Is prosperity theology right or wrong?
  • How can we be liberated from materialism?
  • What should we do about debt?
  • How much does God want us to give?
  • How can we best help the poor and reach the lost?
  • What about gambling? investing? insurance? saving? retirement? inheritance?
  • How can we leave our children a true heritage?
  • How can we use money in ways that God rewards?
It is not an easy read, that's for sure. I try to read a little bit every day & am only on page 52 (out of 447). There is a lot to digest. It is not your typical book on finances or budgeting or how to be frugal. It challenges your core beliefs about money. Here are a few quotes from the book:
When we look at money only as money, and not in light of its impact on eternity, we walk away with a cloudy and shortsighted vision.

The hardest part of dealing with our materialism is that it has become so much a part of us. Like people who have lived in the darkness for years, we have been removed from the light so long that we don't know how dark it really is. Many of us have never known what it is not to be materialistic. This is why we need so desperately to read the Scriptures, to grapple with the issues, bring them to God in prayer, discuss them with our brothers and sisters, and look for and learn from those rare models of non materialistic living in our Christian communities.

Seeking fulfillment in money, land, houses, cars, clothes, boats, campers, hot tubs, world travel, and cruises has left us bound and gagged by materialism--and like drug addicts, we pathetically think that our only hope lies in getting more of the same. Meanwhile, the voice of God--unheard amid the clamor of our possessions--is telling us that even if materialism did bring happiness in this life, which it clearly does not, it would leave us woefully unprepared for the next life.

Everyone that I know who has read this book says it has radically changed their views about money & possessions. Has anyone out there read it? If so, I would love to be able to discuss with you ideas I find interesting. The reason I decided to start reading is because if the (seemingly) ongoing struggle I/we have had with money. It seems like a monkey always on my back. I thought that maybe I have had the wrong perspective all along about money & possessions and if I could change that perspective, I could better live in light of the eternal instead of the temporal. Like the first quote alludes to, when we learn about things like budgeting, debt reduction, frugality, and other financial principles without addressing how our beliefs and use of it relates to God's kingdom and our treasures in eternity, we have completely missed the boat. It's like mowing over the weeds in the yard, if you know what I mean. It won't do any good unless you address the root. If you have the "money monkey" on your back, maybe it is time for you to shake up your money beliefs as well!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Reader Poll

Do you let your kids eat food at the grocery store that you haven't paid for yet?

For example, you give them a couple of cheese slices from your deli selection. Or get them a donut from the bakery {of course letting the cashier know when you pay}. Or open a bag or box of some snack food. Snag a couple of grapes from the bunch. Or is this just plain inappropriate? Share your {kind} opinion now!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Drudgery....well, kinda

I feel like a hamster on his little spinning wheel. I do, what seems like, endless amounts of housework, and yet, I have gotten nowhere. Forever spinning my wheel. Do you ever feel like staying at home is drudgery? Why is that I am always doing dishes, even though I have a dishwasher? Do the dirty clothes multiply at night while I am sleeping? {I am SURE that Polly Pocket accessories multiply.} I am convinced that full-time working career moms have houses that are 10x cleaner than mine, but this is probably because there is no one there to get them messy, eh? It's not something you hear moms ever talking about at playdates or over lunch: "Yeah. I'm just sick of picking up toys & folding clothes. I am worn out by the endless amount of work. Sometimes I yell at my kids because I get overwhelmed." Guess that conversation doesn't really leave you with a warm fuzzy feeling. Am I the only one who feels this way? Maybe other moms have children who always pick up after themselves, have clean faces & hands, and they themselves have a non-stop cheerful attitude when it comes to housework. Or is this some dirty secret that I am not supposed to mention? I am wondering if there is some sort of trick to not feeling this way. Don't get me wrong, I KNOW staying at home has it's benefits. For one thing, I never wake up with an alarm clock. {On the rare occasion that I have to, I sleep terribly & am in a panic because I am so not used to it.} I can take breaks when I need to {or even when I don't need to}. I can sneak in the occasional nap when all my ducks, er kids, are in a row. {Although I'm sure this happens in office life as well.} Every day is dress casual. I can make my own schedule. I can have breakfast & lunch outside. I can go for walks when the weather is nice. I get to see my children learn amazing things firsthand. I get lots of hugs & kisses. Lots of great things about staying at home.
And yet, sometimes I feel like the hamster......spinning, spinning, spinning.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

A Frugal Girl's Guide to Wall Art

You don't even have to be terribly creative or crafty to spruce up your space with hand-painted art.

1. Select your space.
I am still working on giving Sienna's room finishing touches. I *love* her room. It's kind of like what I always wanted as a girl.

2. Select your art.

I wanted a whimsical saying on her wall {something that reflects her character}, but you could do a Scripture, your child's favorite movie character, their name or initials.

3. Decide how big the art needs to be.
I just stood back and tried to imagine the words on the wall & figured that my words needed to be about 5-6" tall for the best look.

4. Open your word processing program. Then type your phrase/name/quote. Select different fonts to get the look you want. Adjust the font size to the size that you estimated you need. Format the font so that it will just print the "outline". I only got about one word printed per page, sometimes only half a word. Then print out your phrase, selecting "mirror image" in your print options so that it prints your words in reverse. If you are wanting a character on your child's wall, try photocopying a coloring book & enlarging on your printer.
For Sienna's wall, I chose the font MA Sexy {downloaded from the internet} because I wanted something whimsical looking. The font size was probably about 200 or so.

5. Get out your pencil! Trace over each word with your pencil {just the outline}. Once all the words are traced it is time to transfer them to your wall. Place the paper on your wall, with your pencil markings touching the wall. Then go over the words AGAIN on the back of the paper, rubbing where your pencil marks are touching the wall to transfer the words on. Here is the mirror image traced:
Here is the word after rubbing on the back side. You can kind of see how I used almost a crayon-coloring motion:

If your arms get tired like mine did, you can make a little pencil mark across the bottom & one side of the paper ONTO the wall, that way you can reposition the paper in the exact same place if you have to come back later. Here is the word after being traced on the wall. It was hard to get a good picture, but I think you can see the faint outline:

6. Get out your craft paints & a little paint brush. Start filling in each word with your desired color. I picked a darker green to contrast with the the pale green walls. Words in progress:

7. Stand back and admire your handiwork! Here is a close-up of the words:
The finished product:
The happy recipient of my whimsical creation:

Fairly simple way to personalize your space. How about adding some words in your kitchen? Or a welcoming Scripture in your entryway. This cost me nothing but my time as I already have plenty of pencils and paper, craft paints, and paintbrushes. With an unlimited number of fonts available on the internet, you can customize the size & look of your wall art. Happy crafting!

Another post...

...from the Pedaling Theologian. I have been trying to encourage him to post more often, but alas, time is short. Enjoy!