Sunday, September 30, 2007

Little Touches Two

There is so much one can do in the autumn season to add a little decorating flare to one's home. Thanks to the lovely ladies who blog beautiful tips and show craft pictures I'm getting more and more ideas. These dried flowers were 10 cents at the thrift store. The apples are part of the week's groceries and the basket is a yard sale find. These three tiny jars were only a quarter for all of them and they look nice on my kitchen shelf filled with mint chips or candy corn. These pretty goblets and creamer pitcher were about 50 cents at a pottery-maker's yard sale. So lovely! Everything just tastes better in beautiful things! I don't like unnecessary knicknacks or gaudy decorations, but practical with little artistic touches is perfect for me. We eat a lot of homemade refried beans. These pinto beans store nicely in a mason jar with a pretty cloth on top.

Little Touches One

Lately I've been gleaning a lot of little tips from other blogs, such as Like Merchant Ships, on making my home more beautiful in small, frugal ways. Frugal doesn't mean living in a dreary, boring space with no art and beauty to remind us of the good things and make our homes more comfortable and inviting. Two very tiny steps I have taken are illustrated here. We have some heavy drapes that cover our front window to keep people in the hall breezeway from looking in. They were making me weary as they are off-white and the entire room is white and even with photos on the wall there was just too much white. So, I found a gauzy, cloth shower curtain at Wal-Mart on the clearance rack and hung it over the drapes, adding a lot more color and coziness to the room. Instead of just piling the potholders on the stove, I put them in a simple basket I had on hand (we only have 2 drawers in our kitchen and I need those for silverware and utensils, not pot holders!)

Sometimes the Little Touches add a lot!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Challah Bread

Okay, we had to be copycats and make challah since we saw it on the Biblical Womanhood Blog and King Jo commented that it looked really yummy so I made it into a learning experience for Ali. She was so proud of her little loaf and ate it all up! My loaf was yummy too, but I couldn't quite figure out how to braid the 4 pieces. It's been too long since I've done a 4-strand braid, so that's why it's kind of odd. My parents, Cindy and Allen, came over for supper. We had Lupe's Authentic Enchiladas, my Mexican neighbor's wonderful recipe.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

HomeSchooling Ali

This month, I've decided to start homeschooling Ali! What? She's only 2!!! Let me explain. Obviously, she's been "schooled" from birth as she learned new words, listened to stories, learned to sing songs, etc. She's constantly building on her skills and helping me around the house more. So, even if I wasn't doing little activities with her, she would still be "home schooled" in a way. Since reading the Biblical Womanhood blog a lot, I've come to realize that kids are never too young to be schooled and that technically, I'm a homeschooling mom even now, not just when my kids reach Kindergarten age. So, what does school look like?

There are the obvious things we do:

*Morning routines

*Devotions/Bible reading/singing/praying

*Helping Mama pick up toys and throw dirty laundry in the hamper

*Helping baby brother by getting him toys or getting his sippy out of the fridge

*Cleaning up messes she makes

*Play dates or going to the park

*Riding scooters, bikes, going for stroller walks

*Coloring pictures

*Role-play with toys, her little kitchen and food, her baby dolls, etc.

This fall, my homeschooling for Ali will also include a few added projects.

Monday: Extra Bible Stories Day (more reading than the norm)

Tuesday: Art Project Day (watercolors, clay, learning to cut with scissors)

Wednesday: History or Non-Fiction Reading Day

Thursday: Alphabet Day

Friday: Spanish Day

These activities may only take 5 minutes, or may stretch into an hour or two depending on interests. I figure that if Ali is a little sponge, soaking up tons of info right now, it will be good for her to have some structured time for learning with Mama. Little Jer is always learning too and his homeschooling consists of learning baby sign language, singing and Devotions, and reading stories. His sister tries to "school" him by teaching him the things I've taught her and repeating words to him!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

My Deals This Week

I love hitting great deals! This week had some really good ones.

Stuff I got at Walgreens:

A bunch of candy for Pastor Appreciation Month: $9 worth for $4.50

Cough drops: $4 worth for $1

Feminine stuff: $6 worth for $4

Bottled water (to stock up in case of a Pandemic because we got these flyers in the mail telling us to be prepared and ready in case of one this winter)- $7.50 worth (18 large bottles) for $3

Chicken Noodle soup- 2 cans for 80 cents

Advil PM--$2.25 plus a $1 off coupon on next Advil PM

Extra Strength Excedrin--I made money off of this one! It was on sale for $3, I had a $2 off coupon and I will get a $3 rebate back on it! I earned $2 by buying it!

Zicam Cold and Flu Spoons-$6 worth but after rebate only cost me $2

3 bubble-envelope mailers for $1

20 0unce Scrubbing Bubbles Bathroom cleaner $2.75 normally but with rebate and coupon I got it for $1

Glade apple cinnamon candle-$2 on sale, but I had a $1 coupon and I'll get a $1 rebate back which means it was FREE

Glade Air Infusion Air Freshening Spray (one of the few sprays that actually smells good, not fake) Normally $3 but I got it for 50 cents with coupon. This is handy to have when you have a Lil' Pooper like Jer around.

I got $53 dollars worth of stuff, spent $29, AND I'll get $10 back in rebates. So, I actually spent about $19 on all this great stuff and I got stuff for a sickness emergency, enough to be able to bless our pastor's family, and some stuff we can really use here at the house.

Tip: I had an internet coupon for $4 off of a Johnson's Softwash Shower Lotion but because they didn't have it in stock, I couldn't use it. Walgreens will substitute another item and honor their own store coupons on it, but not honor an internet-printed coupon on thtat exchange item. However, they said if they have an item, they WILL take paper internet coupons, so that is great news for me for future reference! I took the internet coupon to Wal-Mart and they honored it so I got a huge bottle of Johnon's softwash (which came with a free little bottle of softlotion too!) for 77 cents! Gotta love those internet coupons you print off yourself! Get 'em free at a place like or other sites.

Tip for Walgreens shoppers: One deal I couldn't get today was the free Advil Extra Strenth stuff that was advertised in today's new Walgreens flyer. Our store didn't have any in stock because it's a brand new product. But if your Walgreens does, take advantage of it. You buy an Advil for $4 and you immediately get a $4 register rewards coupon. Go through the line again and buy another with your coupon and get another $4, etc. etc. It's a great way to get free medicines for those winter colds/flus and (hopefully not) coming pandemics.

My Smith's Deals:

I went to Smith's, which carries Kroger brands, because I have heard from frugal bloggers that Kroger is a great place to shop. Sure enough the deals were great! Here's what I got at Smith's:

8 boxes of cereal (Raisin Bran and Honey Bunches of Oats) $8
Feminine product-$1.69 marked down from $3
2-16 oz. bottles of honey-$3
Shredded Cheese-4 bags for $5 (Great DEAL!)
5 # of ground beef for $7.45
2.5# grapes-$2.50
Salad bag-$1.50
Cream cheese-$1
Foundation Make-up (my favorite kind)-$7 marked down from $14, but you can get it at Wal-Mart for $10
The thing that makes me so mad at myself is I forgot to use the coupon I had for $1 off so I could have gotten this make-up for $6! Oh well, I still got it for a great price.

Total spent: $41.56
Total saved: $30.25
Items: 25

I love saving 30% or more on everything I buy! I hope this post inspires you to stretch your grocery dollars too! If I could have gotten my hands on some Post cereal coupons I could have gotten the cereal for 50 cents a box, but $1 a box is still a great buy considering the stores in my town will try to charge $4 or $5 a box!

An Amazing Husband!

I went shopping in the town 30 miles away from us with all the good stores and while I was gone......

my amazing husband not only watched the kids and took care of their endless demands, but he did all the dishes (and there were a bunch!) and dried them all. Then made a homemade apple pie, completely from scratch, including the pastry! Just when you thought you knew someone after being married for 4 years and having two kids together! This is a surprise that I won't soon forget!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Curtain Skirt

Ali loves her new skirt made out of a curtain valance! Notice the matching bag in which her favorite doll rides! This skirt took about 10 minutes to make, start to finish! The instructions are in the following post. Those of you who are into easy crafts should give it a try!

How to Make a Skirt from a Curtain!

I saw this adorable curtain valance at Wal-Mart on the clearance rack and since I knew we didn't have a window it would fit, I got it to see if I could make it into a cute skirt for Alathia.

I only made two straight cuts on the curtain.

I sewed the two cut edges together. Easy as pie!

Next, I threaded a little piece of elastic through that I had measured around Ali's waist.

I sewed the elastic in by stretching the waist band out and sewing around it. Now it won't bunch up or twist!

Lastly, I took the two extra scrap pieces with flowers on them and made a little matching purse/bag from them. She loves her skirt and bag and looks so cute in it!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Frugal Friday Tip

Sorry to those of you friends who have already heard about these shoes! But to those of you coming over from Biblical Womanhood to see my tip, here it is:

Instead of buying Robeez soft-soled leather shoes for $30 a pair, MAKE THEM YOURSELF! Go to the website and you can buy patterns for various kinds of shoes and other craft projects for moms to do. I bought one pattern packet (size 3 and 4) and with shipping it cost me $6.50. It is well worth it since I've already made twenty pairs and will continue to make these shoes throughout my life! And it supports a work-at-home mom's business! You can find the leather at yard sales and thrift stores by cutting up old purses or leather clothing and I've even found some decent stuff at Hobby Lobby in the leather scrap section (just make sure to get the thin leather, not too thick). You can design your own appliques or buy the easy-to-sew on embroidered appliques from Wal-Mart or Ben Franklin's. I've done both. I estimate that it costs me about $1-3 to make a pair depending on the appliques I use. This makes for a super-nice baby gift for a great price! These shoes are the best shoes for babies since they are comfy, they stay on, and they are great for babies learning to walk. Experiment to your heart's desire with all sorts of shapes and colors and styles! I take my kids to Library Story Time and I'll often see 10 other babies there with fancy Robeez shoes. Many people will come up and say, "I love your son's Robeez! Those are so cute!" Imagine their surprise when I say, "I made them!" I've gotten this comment so many times. It only takes about one or two hours max to make a pair and it gets easier and easier the more you make. I am not a professional seamstress, but I have a basic machine and the pattern only has 5 small pieces to it. You don't need special needles for your machine, although for thicker leather pieces, I sometimes use a thicker needle. You can use regular thread, but quilting thread works really well. If you want adorable, practical shoes for your baby or to make for gifts, check out this site today! Here are some pics of some of my best pairs:

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A Trip to the ER

I had my first ever trip to the ER last night. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Baby Jer had a high fever (105) that wasn't responding well to Motrin and it was just about the time our clinic was closing. We called a few nurses and the most knowledgeable about children said to take him in, especially since it's free for us since our state has a health care program for kids under a certain income level. So, we took the little guy in and it turns out that he was only a tad dehydrated and didn't need an IV. They gave us some advice on keeping his fever down (Motrin, then 3 hours later, Tylenol, then 3 hours later Motrin again) and gave me a tip on how to tell if he's really dehydrated. He had about 3, half-wet diapers yesterday with dark-colored urine. They said they don't usually worry unless it's only one wet diaper in a 24 hour period. So even though he was lethargic, not eating, and not drinking much except breastmilk, he was okay. I mention these things in case any of you moms reading this have to deal with high fevers in the future and need some tips on how to get them down and save yourself a trip to the ER!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Gift in the Mail!

Leah Rose, Laura's 17-month old and Jeremiah play together when we were on vacation in MN

I checked the mailbox eagerly. No letters! Bummer! Then as I was heading in from a quick run to the store, I noticed a small box next to our door. What was this? I hadn't ordered anything and no one in our family is having a birthday. I picked it up. It was quite heavy. I saw the tag and thought, "Oh! Laura has sent me some plums!" I loved her blog post on making plum jelly and she had offered to mail me some plums to make jelly with. I thought, "Boy that was fast! It was only about 5 days ago that I told her I would love some plums! " Upon opening the box I discovered that she hadn't mailed plums, but 3 wonderful jars of homemade jelly! YUM YUM YUM! One is strawberry jelly, one is crab-apple, and one is apple butter. What a wonderful friend, willing to share her bounty with someone who has no fruit to make jelly with! I'll be making some homemade bread this very afternoon so I can taste some of that jelly!

Thanks again Laura Helweg! And Congratulations on your big news! She's having Baby #2 in the spring!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Our Silly Sweetheart

Someone passed this shirt on to Alathia in the hand-me-downs they gave us. How fitting it is! Ali is definitely a Patience Tester, but she's a lot of fun too. I'm getting to the stage with her where she's doing really well with obedience and not making quite as many messes so I feel less frustrated with my toddler than I did during the 15 months-27 month stage. She is very strong-willed and opinionated, but then again, so am I! She loves to do everything I do. If I'm wearing a skirt, she has to wear one. If I put on a dress, she asks to change out of her pants and wear a dress too. She's mommy's little helper.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Proverbs 12:16-20

The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult. Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence, but a false witness utters deceit. There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment. Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but those who plan peace have joy.

Lord, thank You for leading me to these verses which speak to my heart and challenge me to quit using "rash" words and to keep a more careful watch on my tongue.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Frugal Friday

Befriend a local cashier! Why? Because I used to be a Cashier at a nice grocery store and I always caught the best grocery deals. There was one time when 25# bags of flour went on sale for $1.99. I had lots of time between waiting on customers to study the sales and I knew the ins and outs of reduced products and special clearance items. I got lots and lots of organic beauty/shampoo products and foods at great prices this way. So, if you know someone who works at the local grocery store, ask them to keep you posted on great sales/clearances. Check in with them when you're shopping. I loved helping people save money when I was a cashier. Food is so expensive these days, I loved helping people cut their costs by reminding them of coupons they could use or even handing them out to people.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Hearty Whole-Wheat Bread from the Bread Machine

I got this recipe from Biblical Womanhood and it is so delicious! Here is a loaf I made yesterday. I had some ground flaxseed I needed to use up so I added a couple of T. to this recipe. Yum, yum! Now if only I had some plums so I could make some lovely jelly like Laura H.! (See my link to Laura's blog to learn how to make plum jelly).

Homemade Wheat Bread

1 cup warm water (110-115 degrees F.)

1 tablespoon milk

2 tablespoons oil

4 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup whole-wheat flour

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons dry yeast

Put all ingredients in the bread machine in the order listed. Set on dough cycle. When dough cycle is finished, take dough out and shape into a loaf in a greased bread pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 20 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

More Fun Pics

Daddy and Son hanging out at the picnic bonfire

My former roomie and dear friend Hannah enjoyed going to Animal Land with Lesley, Kristin, and I and our kiddoes. She spoiled the kids by buying them food to feed the animals.

The four cousins enjoy a warm swim in my in-law's pool

Ali and Jer sure have a lot of fun together!

Fun Pics from our MN Trip

We had fun dressing the boys alike! Are they praying here?

Two little peas in a pod......or a basket!

Going for a slow ride on Ali's fourwheeler

Grandpa Joel and Grandma Kathy with their 3 grandkids

Grandma Leona's 4 great-grandkids: Alathia Joy (age 2), Amelia Joy (age 2), Jeremiah David and Daniel Joel (both 10 months).

Toddler-Proof Your Toes

Anyone who has a toddler will verify that one of the most painful aspects of parenting one of these small persons is their clumsy tripping and stumbling over your toes. It hurts like the dickens and happens constantly! This summer my hubby bought me a pair of Crocs, and my feet couldn't be happier. There are many great things about these shoes, but the greatest thing of all is the fact that my toddler could stomp on me purposefully with boots on and it still wouldn't hurt if I'm wearing my Crocs. I realize these kind of shoes don't provide the arch support everyone needs, but I love them and consider them armor for my toes!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

A Reunion, Funeral, Wedding, Fourwheeler, and Toppling Groomsman

Ali loves her new fourwheeler!
King Jo and I at Jake and Beth's Wedding
Jeremiah and his Cousin Daniel--We enjoyed getting to see our sweet little nephew and get to know him better. The boys are 6 days apart!

We're finally back after a 12 day vacation to King Jo's hometown! What a busy month August was. Two deaths in my family (Grandpa C. in WY and Great-Grandma Susie in MN) and a long vacation with 18 hours of driving one way with 2 small kids, plus lots of visiting and activities. It's all kind of a blur in my mind! However, we had a great time up there and it was so good to see all of you that I was able to visit. Alathia got a battery-operated fourwheeler from Grandpa Joel and Grandma Kathy and she loved zooming around on it the whole time we were there. Joel strapped it to the top of our car and we brought it home that way. Pretty scary when a 2.5 year old can drive a machine with power!

King Jo's best buddy from childhood got hitched in a beautiful wedding ceremony Sep. 1st, but poor King Jo made his mark with his most embarrassing moment ever by fainting during the ceremony (and he was one of the groomsmen!) Those 3-piece suits get hot, especially when standing in front of a shelf with about 100 candles on it. He had been feeling dizzy the day before and hadn't had much to drink or eat all day and he had never heard that you aren't supposed to lock your knees. All this resulted in him blacking out and waking up when he hit the ground and knocked over a decorative tree. Thankfully he was able to make it through the rest of the ceremony and wasn't hurt (except for his pride). He was such a handsome groomsmen!

We enjoyed the reunion with King Jo's family on the Anderson side and celebrated his Grandma Leona's big 90th birthday. I had fun catching up with old friends at play dates, our Girl's Night, and a trip with some friends and our toddlers to Animal Land (a small zoo) and the Oak Hills beach on the lake.

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