Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Simple Solution

I just discovered a simple, frugal solution to commercial dishwasher detergent. It comes from my new favorite book. Are you ready?

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent
Use one tablespoon Borax & one tablespoon Washing Soda.

That's it. Was that so hard? I was skeptical about trying it at first, but I figured I don't have anything to lose. If it didn't work out, I'd just rewash the load using my purchased detergent. These two same ingredients are used in homemade laundry detergent, so if you make your own, you already have the stuff around. I also put vinegar in the rinse aid dispenser to help with drying {a trick you can use even if you aren't making your own dishwasher detergent} . The dishes were sparkly clean! Now I can mix up a bigger batch & keep in a {reused} glass jar. So, so, simple.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Weekend Wrap-Up

The Party.....
The highlight of the weekend was a family party for my not-quite-yet-7-year-old. In an effort to keep things frugal, we served only cake & ice cream with some beverages. I can honestly say that this was the first party that I did not serve "food" of any kind. It was a suprisingly nice change. I did however put the extra effort into making a homemade cake. The birthday girl requested a wedding cake style, so I made a two-tiered cake with pink polka dots. I used the chocolate recipe
here, which was divine! The frosting recipe was a little finicky, but I made it work out. I made homemade vanilla ice cream as well. More on "the big gift" in a future post.

:: mini photo shoot ::

:: presents! ::

:: the cake ::

In Other News.....
I discovered two really wonderful blogs this weekend, so spent some time reading. Make & Takes is a blog devoted to crafty fun ideas for the home & family. It is written by a former Kindergarten teacher & chockful of creative goodness. How cute are the little feather duster puppets?? To the second blog I discovered I say, "SimpleMom, where have you been all my life????" I love the blog design, all the inspiring articles bookmarked along the side, and the truly simple & creative ideas for making the beloved job of homemaking & managing all the more enjoyable. {Be sure not to miss the Home Management Notebooks articles. Great reads, whether you don't have one yet or your old one needs revamping.} She is also doing a giveaway of the book Creative Family by Amanda Soule {I've been eyeing this one for awhile now}! So be sure to stop by & follow the instructions to leave a comment :>)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Talk About It: Painting

Not quite as deep of a topic as we have discussed in the past, but none the less, it leaves me in a quandry. In an effort to make our home a sanctuary and a welcome space for all who enter, I have been doing some painting, decluttering, and organizing. My issue is with the painting {don't get me wrong ~ I *love* painting}. My house has several "openings" that lead from one main living space to the next or are transitions from the room to the hallway. I am wondering what everyone else does. What color do you paint the threshold of a room? Or maybe you only have doorways? Here are a couple examples:
:: this one needs some help desperately ::

Would you paint it the color of one of the adjacent walls? Which wall? Or just paint all the thresholds white like the ceilings?

What would you do?

P.S. Sebastian is crawling!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Feeling the Squeeze

We all know the economy is bad & gas prices are high, which makes food costs higher, which puts the squeeze on...well.....everybody! How are ya'll coping out there? Everybody hanging in? We are feeling significant strain because of past choices & Sweetie's new business which isn't generating as much as we need. We are thinking that one of us may actually have to get a job outside the home. We are currently working through part of our business plan, and perhaps, God willing, it won't have to come to that. Building a business can be a scary thing. I just pray that God would spare us from foolishness {this prayer comes in handy for many other situations as well. Feel free to use it. wink } I share this not for sympathy or pity, but maybe someone else reading this is going through a really hard time as well and sometimes it is comforting to know you are not alone. Not only that, but maybe we can weather these rocky roads together! Here are some things that I am doing this week to stretch the dollars:
  • Cooking from the pantry. I made a batch of Corn Chowder since I had all the ingredients on hand. I did let a bunch of asparagus go bad though. Need to plan better use of fresh produce.
  • Shaving in the sink, instead of the shower. Sweetie suggested this. Kind of a pain, but I'll get used to it.
  • Not traveling as much. Combining trips. I am giving up shopping at my *beloved* Woodman's as the gas to get there and back pretty much cancels out any savings I would get. I will also be combining the trip to Sienna's karate class with an Aldi run.
  • Price-matching at my new local Super Wal-Mart to compensate for not shopping at Woodman's.
  • Selling stuff. Hubs is mostly doing this, but I've also sold a special order notepad holder ;>)
Anyone trying anything new this week to stretch the budget? Or continuing with something that you've found that really works?

Monday, July 21, 2008


I ate another frog today by finally deciding on & ordering our homeschool curriculum for the fall. I was agonizing over this decision & was going back & forth between two options. I scoured homeschool forums & read as much as I could. Things were so much easier {and cheaper} when my student was younger & I could just print off some free internet worksheets or buy a workbook from Wal-Mart or just get her cutting and pasting things. First I felt God leading me to a specific program, then I thought He was leading me to the other one. I finally came to the conclusion that He really wasn't leading me anywhere particular and as long as I keep Him as the focus in all we do, it really won't matter who my curriculum publisher is. So, we are staying with Heart of Dakota, by moving on to Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory. The three things I like best about these programs are:
  • the Christian focus is well-integrated into all aspects of the program. Not just a tacked-on Bible study in some "Christian" programs.
  • the Teacher's Guide is just "open & go". There is a formatted lesson plan for each day. Being a creative-type, I didn't think I would like this, but I love it! Less planning!
  • Use of living books. I just think learning from a textbook is not as exciting as learning from good literature. I think books makes things come alive, from an educational standpoint, that textbooks just can't duplicate.
I am *so* excited and can't wait to start receiving all the materials, so I can move into the planning phase. I spent hours trying to find the best prices & make the best use of the resources I have. I truly wish we lived near an amazing library system or at least had access to a library at all. But such is life. I will just have to slowly and frugally work towards building our own home library. So now we are waiting for "box day", as homeschoolers call it. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Eating the Frog

I recently came across the saying "Eat the Frog". I. like. it. What it means is that you do the hardest/yuckiest job first, to get it out of the way. Our old fish bowl was rapidly turning into a fascinating science experiment & hubster told me he'd take care of it. I finally told him to just "Eat the Frog". He was so glad he did! I often find that a task left undone actually sucks up more energy from me dwelling on it, than it takes to actually just complete the task. {Unfortunately I doubt this is true for the bazillion bins & junk that needs to be sorted through in my basement.} Particularly as it relates to crafting, I know that I am a greater "starter", but I tend to lose motivation if a project is particularly long. Considering this, I'm astonished that I have actually completed not one, but two pairs of knitted socks. Amazing. Another reason why I don't finish or have a hard time finishing is if I run into a "roadblock" during the project. If an aspect proves to be especially difficult, it's almost as if that difficulty sucks the life/joy/excitement right out of a project. I do *love* the feeling of completing something that I had previously abandoned or lost motivation for, which is what I have been trying to do lately. I will feature some frogs in the posts to come.

Are you a "starter" or a "finisher"? Have you eaten any frogs lately? Or are you on your way to do that now? :>)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Say What?!

Me: What kind of dress do you think you'll want for your birthday party?

Tatiana: Maybe like a brown one with pink polka-dots. {One she already has.}

Me: No, not that one, maybe something new.

Tatiana: Well, definitely a beautiful one.

Me: OK.

Tatiana: Yep, you better make it beautiful or else I'll make you and dad... *spoken in a sneaky secret whisper* about your marriage.

Uh, guess I better get to sewing something beautiful.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

H2O Woes

I did not do any laundry today.

I have not run the dishwasher or wash any dishes in the sink.

I have not taken a shower or given the kids a bath.

I have not watered my plants.

I did not make spaghetti for dinner as planned.

Lest you think it is all because I'm lazy or am just taking the day off, it's NOT. We had a water main break in town. Again. Yep. This seems to happen about 2-3 times a year. SO I HAVE NO WATER. I'll spare you the rest of the ugly details eek. I had to at least wash the baby's bottles in a big soup pot. I really want to submit all my receipts for my purchased gallons of water to the water department & short them the amount that it has cost me. I just pray this nonsense ends soon.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Weekend Fun

Here's a little weekend fun. I made this mosaic from flickr photos using the instructions here. You search flickr using the answers to a dozen questions then choose a photo for each answer from the first page of results. I opened the mosaic maker here in a separate page to make it easier to copy & paste the photo links. This is the mosaic that the answer to my questions produced:

Let me know in the comments if you have a blog and decide to give this a try! Have a fun weekend, ya'll!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I'm Hiding

"A woman's heart should be so hidden in Christ that a man has to seek Him first to find her." ~ Maya Angelou

I came across this quote recently & I. just. love. it. I've been mulling over what it means & how that looks in a practical way. I think in a dating relationship, this quote would ensure finding a godly husband. In marriage, it keeps us both seeking after Him. I read this post about the same quote & agree that a man having to seek God to get to the heart of his beloved is, indeed precious. The author of that post also discusses how young woman today try to "hide" themselves in so many other things just to fit in: boyfriends, fashion, diets, drugs, but I think married women can fall into the same trap of looking to earthly things for satisfaction and happiness: exercise, a super-clean home, a nice car, even our dear children. Not that those things are bad in and of themselves, on the contrary, many things *I* try to hide myself in are good things, but are nothing compared to loving Jesus. I should be pursuing the things He loves so passionately that my husband has to look to Him, if he is to understand me. That sounds like such a high calling *gulp* that I don't know if I can even ever get to that place. I guess all I can do is try.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

7 months

My little guy turned seven months old over the weekend. I really do not know where all the time has gone. Seriously. Hubby even agrees that it seems like it was just the other day that I took a nap, went to my doctor's appointment, was told I was 8 cm, and the boy popped out. Sebastian is such the little fella. We just want to squeeze him & cuddle him all the time. This last month he perfected rolling over {a little late} and also sitting up. My Spud can push pretty far up on his arms, but no signs of crawling yet. He is pretty sturdy on his feet as well, and hubby keeps hoping he'll be an early walker. Um, yeah. I rather not encourage it! He moved up to Stage 2 foods & loves him some Zweiback toast. He still only has two teeth, but I have a feeling we'll be seeing some tooth action tooth, as he has all the symptoms of serious teething. Sebastian is not much of a talker. He is a rather quiet baby {as all my babies were} and only makes some noise if he is super interested in something or is crying about something. I cherish all the little moments I have with him, not knowing if he will be the last of my babies that I carry or cuddle or rock with. *sniffle* The little guy loves his big sisters & they are still just as ga-ga over him as they were on the day they first met. Happy 7 months little man! I can't wait to see what things God has in store for you :>)

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Three Cheers....

...for the red, white & blue! Hope your 4th of July weekend was filled with Fellowship, Food, Fun & thankfulness for our Freedom. Since this blog hasn't been gettin' much love lately, I thought I give you a big weekend scoop, starting with....

The Crafts
The creative juices were needing an outlet so I made some little themed decorations. The first two are courtesy of Martha Stewart:

::garland of ribbon stars::

::a close-up::

::striped sand candle holder::

::practicing my face-painting skills::

I also made these {alas, no photo} and stuck them into a few of the little jars that were too full of sand for votives. {I knew those used baby food jars would come in handy for something!} Now if only I can store them carefully so as not to muddle up the sand for next year! It helps if you use a funnel to pour the sand into to get somewhat evenish layers. I think the unevenness does add a bit of charm though. As for the ribbon stars, If I would've had more time, I would've printed out some little sayings to go in the middle of the larger ones. It's hard to tell from the photo, but the little stars have two punched out hearts in the middle of each one. The face-paints {$2.99 at Hobby Lobby} were definitely the hit of the weekend with the kiddos. I would paint something different on their faces each day. So far I've done hearts, patriotic stars, a patriotic butterfly, swirls, and a shooting star with a rainbow coming out of it. The only thing I didn't like about the purchased paints was that they got really cracked on the child's face after awhile. Hubby looked up some recipes on-line to make some face paints, but I didn't have enough time to purchase one ingredient I would need {cold cream}. I figured I could pre-mix the colors & store them in those 7-day pill boxes. Sometime I will try this recipe! Great for birthday parties, ya think?

The Plans
We began the weekend on Thursday, kicking it off with the end of the week Showcase for Tatiana's CYT Summer Camp. What fun! She had an amazing time & I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this program to someone else. We had my dad & step-mom here as weekend guests, and they arrived as we came home from the Showcase. We had A LOT of food this weekend. I will need to step-up the exercise plan this week to make up for it! Shrimp, Ribeye steaks, Asian Coleslaw, Baked Beans, Homemade Onion dip & more. YUM-O. Somehow in the midst of all this entertaining, I somehow managed to make 5 meals for the freezer too.

Friday brought more entertaining as we enjoyed the company of hubby's sister, her boyfriend, and my niece, who joined us for a BIG cook-out, a local fireworks show, and spent the night as well. That is the most people I have ever had sleeping in my house on one night: 10!! We were all comfortable, with plenty of room to spare. Yesterday, we went to a cook-out at my mom's house, along with my brother&wife and my step-brother&wife. MORE FOOD, ya'll. We played a bit of ladderball there. Never played before, but I rocked it, winning the match for hubby & I.

The Aftermath
Today, our weekend guests headed home. Hubby drove to Chicago to get a lawn mower from my dad for free, since ours conked out. He took the girls & decided to leave them for a sleep-over at his parents' house. This will help with the cleaning up, but only a little, as my Spud seems to be teething. {Poor guy!} Our DishNetwork dish is on the fritz, so hubby is working on moving that around, since now there is a tree blocking its view. DUH. You would think those DishNetwork guys would notice the smallish tree there next to the dish & somehow realize that the tree ain't always gonna be that size. Nope. But I digress. To me, the worst part of entertaining, is the clean-up. Yuk. I've always that a party clean-up business would make big bucks and today I'm reminded why.

At least I have a house to clean, a baby to care for, and freedom to do most of the things I love. So there's the scoop :>)