Monday, March 30, 2009

Creative Fun: Crayons

Hope your weekend was full of many blessings both great and small! Due to some family errands and unforeseen circumstances, we were unable to do Creative Fun Friday, but we did have some Creative Fun on Sunday.

::Muffin Tin Crayons::

We loosely followed the instructions here. Mine took longer than 10 minutes to bake, though, and even so there were some big chunks in the crayons that were not in the outer edges of the muffin pan. Also, I sprayed my muffin liners with cooking spray & it seemed like the paper peeled a little easier. I loved this project because it used up all those broken bits & pieces of crayon that don't seem to get used anyways. Frugal & fun!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Peanutty Playdough

In an effort to do more hands-on activities {a.k.a. being the Fun Mom}, I'm digging into some books I have on hand for easy crafts & science experiments. I'm planning on incorporating these ideas on Fridays, as that is usually a light schooling or catch-up day. Tatiana has dubbed it "Creative Fun Fridays". So here was our first activity:

Peanutty Playdough
from the Ultimate Book of Kid Concoctions: More than 65 Wacky, Wild & Crazy Concoctions

1/4 c. peanut butter

1/2 c. dry milk powder

2 T. honey
{I used corn syrup as I didn't have any honey}

Place all ingredients in a ziploc bag & knead together until dough forms. Do NOT reuse or save for later use.

Mine was a bit on the crumbly side so probably could've used another drop or two of corn syrup. This only makes a small amount, say enough for two young children. If you have more than two or several "olders", you might want to double the recipe.

Best part? It's edible! Great for little ones who aren't over the putting-everything-in-my-mouth stage or just for yummy eating after playing!

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Midnight Oil

photo learningful_rcb

A couple of nights a week, he burns the midnight oil. While the kids and are tucked warmly in our beds, my Hubs is out sweeping commercial parking lots, as a glorified-trash collector, if you will. He picks up trash, cleans up cigarette butts, empties garbage cans, all while trying to stay awake!

This week he was able to pick up a couple extra night shifts and no sooner did he commit to working Wednesday night, did he get a call that there was dump truck work for Thursday morning! We were thrilled at the opportunity, if not a little nervous for how to manage the schedule. After working all night, Hubs slept in his car for a couple hours then began his first day transporting loads of material. {He just got his CDL license a few weeks ago!} At 2:15 pm {just in time for me to race to an OB appointment}, he arrived home tired, dirty, and joyful. Hubs was beaming with satisfaction at a job well done. He never complains about lack of sleep or being tired. Together we have developed a new thankfulness for the blessing of work. I am so proud of his attitude during this season and the fact that he is willing to do any type of work {even 3rd shift trash duty} to take care of his family. I am honored to be his wife!

Thank your husband today for how hard he works or encourage him in his job hunt if that's where you're at. Tell him how much you appreciate that he works to provide for your family!

P.S. Happy First Day of Spring!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

WFMW: Bedroom Door Lock

Hubs & I decided that all parents should have a locking bedroom door for, reasons. Upon determining that we wanted one, we didn't want to actually go buy one. *Insert frugal solution here!* Our master bathroom DID have a lock on it and since only Hubs and I use that bathroom, it really wasn't too critical to have the lock. So we performed a switch-a-roo and in about 15 minutes changed our bedroom door lockset for the bathroom one. So, if you don't have a locking bedroom door, you might be able to "shop" in your own home for "new" door knob.

Visit We are THAT Family for more Works for Me Wednesday!

Saturday, March 14, 2009


The other day I read an interview with Michael J. Fox in a recent issue of Good Housekeeping Magazine. He shared a lot of his heart and journey regarding his struggle with Parkinson's. He was asked what advice he'd give someone who's dealing with a chronic illness. His advice though, I think can apply to any trying season of life:
I would say to look at the choices you have, as opposed to the choices that have been taken away from you. Because in those choices, there are whole worlds of strength and new ways to look at things.
That just resonated so deeply with me, especially during this season of part-time income for our family. I think a lot of times, we look at difficult things that happen with a sense of loss and perhaps even that some choice has been taken away from us, even if that "choice" was misguided. So, here I am, focusing on the choices I *do* have:
  • what to make for dinner each night
  • which possessions I'm going to sell next
  • to stay-home full-time
  • to homeschool
  • to continue striving towards being a wife of excellence
  • to continue to tithe
  • to work wholeheartedly to care for the home He has entrusted me with
  • to give generously as we can, of what resources we have
  • to love my children, train them as He sees fit & have fun with them daily
  • to choose my attitude
I choose to live with joy, knowing that although I may be poor by some standards, I have an abundance of riches that money can't buy. I am, in a way, more content than I have been in a long time. I feel His hand over my life in such a real and tangible way. Someone in small group the other evening said that we need to go to work and be responsible because "Christ doesn't pay our bills". I nearly burst out laughing! REALLY?! So since we only make $800/month and our bills are a little over $2000 and they are all current, how would you explain that?! I knew the point this guy was getting at, it's just all comes from Him, whether it's in the form of a paycheck, an unemployment check or a check in the mail. That's what I come away from this season with. He blesses us with work, He blesses us with unemployment, He provides for our needs when neither of those apply. And it's because of Him, that I choose joy.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Beauty, Boy with a Basket & Blessings

How's that for a post title? Guess no one is too interested in Baked Potato Soup, eh? Meh. I guess my feelings are only hurt a little. {*giggle*} Here's a couple snapshots of my day:

:: before ::

:: after ::

Does anyone else cut their own childrens' hair? I am just too frugal to fork over $10-$15 {times each kid} for a kid's hair cut. I really need to get some sort of book or find a website for cutting girls' hair. Suggestions? I think for the first major cut {just trims up until now}, I did not half bad. Sienna got hers cut as well, but it was more of a trim. I nearly freaked out after making Tatiana's first cut, but I know it will grow back. It was just soooo long and straggly looking and very high-maintenance. Hopefully this shorter do will be a little more brush-n-go.

And since this somewhat fits under the beauty category, here was my score at Wal-greens today:

Total OOP: $1.13 for the tax and one candy bar.

I plan to go back to get 2 more free Garnier products, since they were limiting to 2 per day. I *so* want to do the
Huggies deal, but unfortunately they only had 2 Gentle Care products instead of the 3 I needed. I was so bummed. I may try a different store later in the week, but think because of the popularity, I may have a hard time succeeding. I'm trying to do more Wal-greens/CVS deals, even if it's just one or two a month, to keep my stockpile going for myself and any other families that may need it. It can kind of be a pain to collect all the coupons & research the deals, but I think of it as my opportunity to possibly bless others. Guess it fits in the blessings category too!

Now for my boy.

That's my handsome son, concentrating hard on putting raisins into a little toy basket. He loves this basket. Go figure. I think because it's just his size & opens and closes. I've been sitting him in the booster seat from time to time, instead of in his high chair and he looks like such a big boy! Kinda makes me sad and happy all at the same time. He got so excited when he saw the camera. What a little ham!

And finally, here's a wonderful blessing that was given to me by a lady in my small group:

It's a basket filled with fancy shampoo, conditioner, Bath & Body Works hand soap, a body loofah, and a bag of chocolates {yum!}. She had won it as a door prize for something & passed it along to me, saying in a lovely card that she knows how hard pregnancy can be and wanted me feel pampered a little! It made me feel so special and like God cares about even the little things, like me. wink

Hope your week is filled with blessings both big and small alike!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Baked Potato Soup: Take Two

subtitled: How to Creatively Use Left-overs

Last night, our small group enjoyed a baked potato dinner, complete with a variety of toppings, all provided by one of the families. After the evening ended, I asked {somewhat sheepishly} if I could take home the leftovers. {A couple of tears ensued. I think I was just embarrassed at my own gratefulness, if that makes any sense.} Anyhow, besides about 8 humongous baked potatoes, I also took home an unopened container of sour cream and about 3 cups worth of shredded cheddar cheese. I knew the instant I saw all the ingredients together what they would become: Baked Potato Soup. Not coincidentally, I'm sure, I attempted this recipe for the first time earlier in the week, and altho
ugh thick & rich & yummy, felt it needed a little tweaking. Here's my own updated, detailed-instruction version:

Makes about 6 servings

3 T. butter or margarine
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 T. flour
2 c. chicken broth
2 c. milk
2 large or 3 medium baked potatoes, peeled & diced into bite-sized pieces
3 green onions, chopped

6 slices bacon, cooked til crispy & chopped up

1/2 c. sour cream

1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese

s & p, TT

In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the garlic when the butter is about half-way melted so it can cook a bit & flavor the butter. When the butter is melted, add the flour. Stir well with a wooden spoon until all the flour is incorporated. Let cook for about 1 minute. Slowly add the broth. {I like to literally just dribble it in a couple tablespoons at a time.} You want to stir well with each addition to prevent lumps. You should be able to nearly add the entire 2 cups, with the mixture still being thick at the end. Don't worry about that. Slowly add the milk, stirrring constantly. Add the potatoes and bring to a simmer, stirring often. Milk based soups have a tendency to scorch on the bottom, so you want to stir pretty often. My potatoes were pretty sturdy since a) they were russets and b) they had been refrigerated overnight. If your seem like they'd fall apart too easily, you can just add them after bringing to a simmer. Add the green onions, bacon, sour cream and cheddar cheese. Stir well to combine. Season "to taste" (TT) with salt & pepper. Season gently, especially if you're using broth from bouillion cubes and since the bacon will be salty.

Notes: I used whole milk because that's what I had, but I'm sure 2% or skim would work just fine as well. I also used light sour cream and turkey bacon. Still lots of wonderful flavor with those substitutions!

I will probably double the recipe next time, as since the day was cold, rainy, and dreary....well, let's just say those 6 servings were eaten by far less people.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Slim Down Sundays: Simple Changes

Anyone else out there still doing Slim Down Sundays? Or my version, which is just tryin' to stay healthy! I thought I'd share my latest technique for taking baby steps & making small, but meaningful changes in my life. I originally came up with this idea as it pertains to keeping my eating habits in check, but it is applicable in every facet of life! It's as simple as this: too much, too little. What things am I eating too much of that aren't quite good choices? What things am I eating too little of that I need to include more often? This week's baby steps were:

Too much: sugar
Too little: water

How easy was that? I think sometimes I tend to make way too many goals & get overwhelmed by all the things I need to change. So, I am simplifying. I cut back the sugar in my tea & replaced it with mostly Splenda. I drank more fluids by bringing my water bottle with me whenever I left the house & filling up my cup as often as possible. It was an improvement! What about you? What have you been doing too much of and too little of that you can change this next week? Too much internet/TV? Too little Bible time? Too much yelling? Too little romance time with the husband?

I'd love to know any baby step goals you're making for this next week!

P.S. My pregnancy & other health updates will mostly be on my other blog, Chronicles of an Almost Healthy Foodie. Feel free to stop by for a visit!