Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Frugal Things I Did Last Week

Remember the best things in the world are the things which can't be bought.  

I picked up a soil probe from our county extension office to take soil samples from our garden.  I will drop off the soil and it will be sent (FREE) to a lab to be tested for various nutrients.  Last year I learned that my main garden plot was very deficient in various nutrients.

I made bread in the crockpot.  Neat huh?

My sweet mom gave us a cooler full of beef.  We have been enjoying lots of roast, steak, and hamburgers.  Yum!  What a treat.

We attended a retirement party for a friend.  My mom picked up a nice mug for me that said Happy Retirement.  I placed that in a fancy cellophane bag I had on hand from my Stampin' Up days.  Then I added two bags worth of gourmet chocolates and truffles.  I tied it with red ribbon that had been used on a a Christmas gift we received.  I wrapped it with a gift bag and tissue paper we had on hand.

I continued using free samples of eye liner, eye shadow, and lipstick.  It is amazing how long this stuff lasts!

I made another batch of homemade laundry tabs.

We love babywearing.

The weather has been beautiful so we went on two walks as a family.  I carried Eva in our Moby Wrap which I had purchased when Eli was a baby.  You could make one but knit fabric is very expensive and a stretchy wrap takes a lot of fabric so I chose to buy mine.  It is a wrap that you tie but youtube has some great instructional videos.

I sewed a simple curtain valence for Evangeline's room.

We breastfed and cloth diapered all week.  (We even cloth diaper when we go out of the house.)  After four months of cloth diapering we finally ran out of bumGenius Cloth Diaper Detergent so I purchased more cloth diaper detergent from amazon.  The bumGenius detergent works well but I decided to try another one.  This time we are trying Nellie's All Natural Laundry Soda .  Has anyone used this?

I attended a workshop on Market Gardening at a local extension office.  I did have to pay 5.00 for lunch but it was well worth it.  All of the food was local or had been preserved the previous season.  It was delicious!  I also took home a large manila envelope full of seeds for free.  All of the seeds are from 2013 so their germination rates will not be quite as good as 2014 seeds.  Still they are free seeds so I do not mind double planting.  I am thinking about setting up a roadside stand to sell produce from our garden and possibly some baked goods.

What do you think?  Do you have any experience with a roadside stand?  

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

10 Goals For This week

The simple valence I sewed for Eva's room.  She has such a nice view from her bedroom!

Last Week's Goals: Family/Marriage/Mothering Goals

  1. Take Elijah to swim lessons.  He absolutely loves going to swim lessons and I really enjoy watching him.  We went and it was very memorable.  
  2. Write a love letter to Brandon.-oops totally forgot about this one!  
  3. Help my mother clean/organize one afternoon this week.  I am so glad I was able to help out this week.
Homemaking Goals
  1. Sew a simple valence curtain for Evangeline's nursery.  I have had the fabric for 6 months now so I really want to check this one off my list soon!  Hooray!  I was able to sew and hang up a simple valence this week.   
  2. Finish compiling all of our receipts and paperwork to file our taxes.  Then drop off everything to my favorite CPA.  This will happen this week!  
  3. Clean out my dresser and closet.  Give lots of things away that I am no longer using or save them to re purpose into something else. -Hopefully this will happen this week!  I did pass along a few things but I have yet to go through each drawer.  
Personal Goals
  1. Eat healthy and exercise 3 times this week.-  I ate pretty healthy this week and went for 2 nice long walks.  
  2. Attend a class on growing a market garden.-This was great!   
  3. Read 5 chapters of Found in Him by Elyse Fitzpatrick who is one of my favorite authors.  I have read two chapters so far and it is great!  There are reflection questions at the end of each chapter so I am trying to read just one chapter every morning.    This book is SO good!  
Ministry Goals
  1. Prepare my Sunday School lesson and learn a new offertory song to play next week.  I am thinking about learning "Forever".  Life ended up getting crazy this past week so I played an old favorite.  
I hope our week is filled with fun moments like this to treasure!  

This Week's Goals:

Family/Marriage/Mothering Goals
1.  Go on a date with the hubby to the University of Kentucky/University of Arkansas game.  Wohoo!
2.  Take a nap or rest 3 afternoons this week for at least an hour.
3.  Read 3 chapters of Summer of the Calves to Elijah.

Homemaking Goals
4.  Deliver all tax paperwork to our CPA.
5.  Order garden seeds from Berlin Seeds.
6.  Spend an afternoon cleaning and de-cluttering in the basement.

Personal Goals
7.  Finish sewing curtains for a friend of a friend.
8.  Finish reading Found in Him: The Joy of the Incarnation and Our Union with Christ by Elyse Fitzpatrick.  This book is wonderful!

Ministry Goals
9.  Attend a visitation this week.  Organize and help prepare a meal for after the funeral.
10.  Prepare and teach my Sunday School lesson.  We are using The Gospel Project and I love it!

What are your goals for this upcoming week?  

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Our First Girl's Trip

The weather had been so bad all week that I wasn't sure if I was going to actually be able to go on my trip until the day before.  
When I received an invitation for a baby shower 4 hours away and out of state for a sweet friend of mine my heart longed to go.  I set it aside thinking it was just too crazy.  I have a 4 month old nursing baby, an active 4 year old, and numerous responsibilities.  My sweet hubby had other plans though and encouraged me to go!  He kindly watched Elijah for me all weekend.  As a nursing baby Evangeline is my constant side-kick so we set out on our mini road trip early Saturday morning.

We had a lovely time driving south and stopped for lunch with my sweet friend Sarah Watkins in Barbourville, KY.  We were college buddies and both share a deep love of history, missions, and teaching Bible Studies.  Such a blessing to see that sweet girl!  I'm now kicking myself for forgetting to get a picture.  (That happens a lot to me!)  

After lunch Eva and I headed through the Cumberland Gap to TN.  I enjoyed reminiscing about old times and the many road trips I took to visit my great-grandmother who was also named Eva.  She lived in Eastern KY in the mountains.  During my college days I would travel to her house every 6 weeks or so and spend the weekend.  We would go shopping, out to eat at Hardees, and to church on Sunday.  Great-grandma Eva passed away five months after Eli's was born but she did get to meet him (her first Great Great Grandson).  I only wish she would have lived long enough to meet her namesake.  

Veteran's Overlook near Bean Station

Once in Tennessee we stopped at the above Veteran's Outlook along HWY 32/25E.  If you are ever driving this way I would definitely recommend stopping.  It was really neat and right off the highway.  I thought this would be a great place to take a nursing break but Evangeline kept sleeping so I enjoyed it all by myself.  Below are a few photos I snapped.  

There really is a place called Bean Station!  

Absolutely beautiful! 

After a brief stop we continued on to our next stop to visit Sarah Burton Winstead and her husband Nick.  Unfortunately I got lost and took a nice scenic route to their house adding almost an hour to our drive.  :(  I did see a couple of interesting sites while lost.  
The tractor parked at the gas station that I checked out while Eva was nursing.  Elijah would have been ecstatic if he had been with me since he loves tractors! 

Look closely...can you read the caption?  It says Possum...the other white meat!  I thought this was so funny.  
I stopped at a gas station to fill up along the way and couldn't believe that I had to go in to pay!  They did not take credit cards at the pump.  I know what a spoiled American I am!  The guy next to me had a funny license plate so I quickly snapped a picture, hopped into my car, and prayed he wouldn't take too much offense to my snapping a picture.  I felt slightly like Nancy Drew but didn't actually want to meet him face to face in case he saw me.    

Sarah and Eva
 We finally arrived to the charming town of Rogersville.  Eva and I both had a WONDERFUL time catching up with Sarah and Nick.  Eva was born five days after their wedding so I will probably always remember their anniversary.  I think I will forever be remembered as the big pregnant lady dancing at their wedding!  :)  The Winsteads were so generous and hospitable to us.  We even spent time with Sarah's parents who were in town visiting.  Evangeline and I stayed the night in their guest room and even went to church with them the next morning.  I just wish we could have stayed longer.  I guess that is just the thing with good friends-you just never want to leave!

After visiting the Winstead's church Evangeline and I headed to Knoxville for the shower.  We ended up arriving very early and I am still kicking myself for not stopping at a historic cemetery site in Knoxville.  After I saw the sign I thought about turning around but then I had already driven ten minutes before I reached the next exit.  Has anyone ever stopped here?  We did kill a little time at Goodwill and enjoyed people watching for a while.
The random old car I saw at Wendy's.
The baby shower was an absolute blast!  (The baby shower was the whole reason behind my weekend road trip.)  It was such a treat to see Emily and her belly!  I can't wait to meet Baby Canaan.  I just wish she didn't live so far away.  :(  I was also able to catch up with a sweet couple from college who are expecting their first baby.  
Such cute decorations!  

I loved the bee theme for the shower!  

On the way home Evangeline started fussing right before the exit for my college so we actually stopped at Cumberland.  I figured it was safer to feed her at the college than at a truck stop so we spent a nice time in one of the parking lots on campus.  It's so funny how some things still feel so familiar.  Although it has been years since I was a student at Cumberland I felt like I could pick up my suitcase and walk right back into my dorm room.  I would have never dreamed back in the day that one day I would be sitting in the parking lot nursing my sweet little girl!  

After our stop at Cumberland we drove all the way home.  I didn't even stop for dinner.  Evangeline was wonderful!  We drove over 5 hours the first day and 4 hours the second.  I am so thankful for our fun weekend away. and for a sweet husband who is so thoughtful.  I think our trip should definitely turn into an annual trip.  

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Frugal Things I Did Last Week-Valentine's Day Week

We had a great week and a lovely day celebrating Valentine's Day as a family.  Here are some of the frugal things we did last week:
  • I appliqued the above shirt for Eli using a small bit of fabric and Wonder Under I had on hand.  I also sewed a simple skirt for Evangeline that matched.  I had purchased the turtleneck last summer at a yard sale for a quarter.  Her skirt is just a simple square really with a hem and elastic waistband.  I added rickrack along the bottom.  If you would like more specific directions let me know.  
  • We continued watching the Olympics this week.  
The happy hubby (who isn't smiling) holding his Valentine's Day cake.  

  • The hubby and I decided not to exchange expensive gifts this year.  Instead we are putting the money towards a FamilyLife Weekend to Remember conference in a few weeks.  The hubby did make me a really sweet card and we enjoyed lunch out as a family.  I baked him a non-Trim Healthy Mama cake.  We enjoyed a simple family night for Valentine's Day that was great.  
  • I made homemade kefir and yogurt.  Did you know that you can substitute plain yogurt for sour cream in almost any recipe?  Since I make yogurt weekly we no longer buy sour cream. Yogurt is also much healthier for you than sour cream.  
  • I dropped off over 100 oz of breast milk at Motherhood Express to be sent to the Indiana Mother's Milk Bank.  Last month I mailed 259 oz to the milk bank but it is much more convenient to use a drop off site where they package and mail it.  My milk will then be passed on to premature babies with a critical need for breast milk.  My goal is to donate 500 oz. As a one income family we have a limited amount of money to donate to various worthy charities but I can donate something very precious-my milk.  The need for breast milk is very high and unfortunately the need is always greater.  Feel free to contact me if you would like to know more about milk banking.  

  • Although the happy hubby is smiling in this picture we are all incredibly sick of snow.  We have been enjoying more books in our home and dreaming of the day when we can hop back into our kayaks for a nice paddle.  
  • We attended Financial Peace University.  Last week's class was really good.  We learned that I am the nerd of the family who loves to save (anyone surprised?) while the hubby is the free spirit who helps me have a life (as he says).  
  • We cloth diapered all week.  I estimate that last week this saved us between 12.60 (generic) to $26 (chlorine free).  
  • I breastfed Evangeline all week and attended La Leche League where I checked out a book from their library.  

  • I arrived really early to an out of town baby shower so I stopped in Goodwill and bought everything in the above picture for $8: jumper outfit, book, and baby legs for Evangeline, pattern for pjs, puzzle, Boggle game and sticker book for Eli, and travel guide on Columbus for Brandon.  It was really fun to bring presents home for my boys.  I also picked up a blue baby bib to embroider in the future.  
  • I baked a loaf of Sourdough Cranberry Nut bread as a thank you for a kind man from our church who scrapped our driveway.  
What frugal things did you do last week?

Monday, February 17, 2014

10 Goals For This Week

The pile of tax information and receipts that needs to be organized this week.
Here are my top 10 goals for this week: 

Family/Marriage/Mothering Goals

  1. Take Elijah to swim lessons.  He absolutely loves going to swim lessons and I really enjoy watching him.  
  2. Write a love letter to Brandon.
  3. Help my mother clean/organize one afternoon this week.
Homemaking Goals
  1. Sew a simple valence curtain for Evangeline's nursery.  I have had the fabric for 6 months now so I really want to check this one off my list soon! 
  2. Finish compiling all of our receipts and paperwork to file our taxes.  Then drop off everything to my favorite CPA.  
  3. Clean out my dresser and closet.  Give lots of things away that I am no longer using or save them to re purpose into something else. 
Personal Goals
  1. Eat healthy and exercise 3 times this week.
  2. Attend a class on growing a market garden. 
  3. Read 5 chapters of Found in Him by Elyse Fitzpatrick who is one of my favorite authors.  I have read two chapters so far and it is great!  There are reflection questions at the end of each chapter so I am trying to read just one chapter every morning.    
Ministry Goals
  1. Prepare my Sunday School lesson and learn a new offertory song to play next week.  I am thinking about learning "Forever".  
What goals do you have in mind this week? 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Evangeline Grace: 4 Months Update

It's hard to believe it's time to write another update on our sweet little Evangeline Grace.  She is now 4 months old and is growing fast.  She now weighs 17lbs and is already twice her birth weight.  I'm not sure how long she is but we have already had to move her up a size to 6-9 month clothing.  She is quite the rolly, polly little girl!  I just love it.

If you look closely at Eva's eyes it almost looks as if they are thinking about turning brown.  Yesterday she rolled over from belly to back which was incredibly exciting.  We have been watching her like a hawk for the past two weeks hoping that we wouldn't miss it.  She was kind enough to roll over in front of all three of us.  She is either being lazy or she forgot how to do it because we have yet to coax another roll out of her.  

She is continuously watching big brother Eli's every move.  It is such a joy to watch them play together.  Eli continues to be such a sweet big brother to her.  I wonder if he will remember much (if anything) before she was born.

Evangeline has really started playing even more this past month.  We purchased a little play gym for her and she absolutely loves it!  I also let her try out the Johnny Jump Up for a few minutes.  The swing has now fallen to last place although it was her favorite for the first 3 months.  She continues to be quite the social butterfly and usually only takes short naps throughout most of the day which can be frustrating.  I think she is afraid that she will miss something.

Last weekend Eva went on her first road trip of 5 hours with just mom.  (Eva did go to Arkansas for Christmas but this was her first girls only trip.)  She had a great time and was very friendly to everyone she met.  We had a wonderful time and even stopped at my old college for 30 minutes for a nursing break.

At this point breastfeeding is wonderful and we are both really enjoying it.  The first couple of weeks can be quite challenging and I am so glad that we stuck it out.  Evangeline and I attended a La Leche League (breastfeeding support group) meeting Thursday and she had a great time watching all of the other babies.  Taking Eva on a road trip was so easy since she is breastfed.  I am thankful I didn't have to worry about warming bottles or washing anything while on the road.  I'm hoping to take her hiking when the weather gets warm.

We have been babywearing almost every single day.  I am so thankful for my carriers.  They allow me to keep my baby close at hand while going about my day.  At this age we are still doing front carries and enjoy using the Moby Wrap , Baby K'tan , or Ellaroo Mei Tai.  I am counting down the days before Evangeline can rock the back carry in my Ergo.  Back carries are my favorite!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Frugal Things I Did Last Week

The Valentine's Day canvas I made last week.
Here are a few of the frugal things we did last week to save money: 
  • We decorated our home for Valentine's Day.  We hung up a hand-stitched banner, wreath, love banner, and wreath Eli made.  In our family we love Valentine's Day.  What a wonderful time to reflect not just on the love that we have for one another but on the great love that Jesus has for us.  I also made a Valentine's Day Decoration using the Word Collage cartridge.  
  • I taught a class on preparing for the ACT at our local library.  
  • I made homemade kefir and yogurt.  
  • We enjoyed watching the Olympics at home.  

  • I went on a fun mini road trip with Baby Girl this past weekend.  I made the above canvas using my Cricut and the Cricut Word Collage Cartridge .  I used a "Kiss Cut" for the first time and it worked great!  I also used transfer paper for the first time with great success.  The above canvas is 11 x 14 and was kindly given to me by my mother-in-law.  I used Cricut Craft Room and cut the collage at 10x13. I also made a baby shower card which is not shown using stamps I have had for years.  I'm hoping to work on re-decorating Eli's room in the next few months and may try to make one for Elijah.  
  • I tried to be conscious about the amount of food we are wasting each week.  I might even start posting what we throw away each week as accountability.  This week we threw away a small amount of leftover soup, a pear, and some old celery.  
Eli's wreath
  • I finished sewing a Sleep Sack for Evangeline using McCall's Pattern M4236 .  I used fleece and a zipper that had been purchased on sale.  
  • I received a free book in the mail to review.  

I used a gift card from Babies R Us to purchase a Fisher-Price Rainforest Gym.  Evangeline absolutely loves this!  If I had known how much she would enjoy it I would have purchased one way before now.  

What frugal things did you do last week?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Cookie Dough Brownies

If you are a Trim Healthy Mama skip this post.  These are definitely not healthy but they are oh so yummy and easy to make.  I made these for the hubby last week and he was so impressed.  (I get bored making regular brownies.)  You can make these with or without the chocolate topping on top.  We have had them both ways.  
In a small bowl combine:
2 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. cocoa
1/2 t. salt
1 c. oil
4 eggs
2 t. vanilla
Spread in a 9x13 lightly greased pan and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  Cool.

Then mix together the following: (this is the cookie dough part)
1/2 c. butter (softened)
1/2 c. brown sugar (packed)
1/4 c. sugar
2 T. milk
1 t. vanilla
1 c. flour
Spread over the cooled brownies.  You can enjoy the brownies at this point or make a chocolate topping by melting together: 1 c. chocolate chips & 1 T. coconut oil.  Spread over top and enjoy!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Frugal Things I Did Last Week

Keeping track of the "frugal things" I do each week really encourages me to keep pushing and saving our money for what really matters!  The original inspiration came from The Prudent Homemaker.  This is something I have been doing for quite a while on my first blog.  Here are some of the frugal things we did last week to save money:

We attended a fun birthday party where our friend's twins turned 1!  I talked with their aunt and found out that they did not have anything in their room with their names on it.  I made them each a canvas with their name on it.  They were 11 x 14 canvases that my mother-in-law gave me when we were visiting.  These were fun to make!  Eli enjoyed helping me make them and helped with each step.  He even asked for his own canvas to make them a gift.  He was insistent that I also give them the canvas that he made!  For Eli's canvas I used Cricut Plantin' Schoolbook Cartridge and cut the letters at 4.5.  For some odd reason I had to cut the boat at 14 and used Cricut Ruby Red Vinyl.  For Lexi's canvas I used the Cricut Cartridge, Songbird and cut the letters at 4.5 and the bird at 5.5.

I baked Sourdough Cinnamon Raisin Bread.

I passed along some hand me downs to two different friends.  I really appreciate hand me downs so I try to pass things along to others.

I made homemade Kefir using a powdered Kefir starter that my mom gave me.  I also used a coupon to order Kefir Grains.  (I have used kefir grains in the past but accidentally dropped a glass jar that they were in.)

I used my Crock Pot to make Venison Stew.  My brother was kind enough to shoot a deer for us this past fall.

I made a felt snowman kit for Eli using felt I had in my stash.  I think this would also make a cute gift for someone.

I received a free packet of Chard Seeds from Renee's Garden.  I have never grown chard and honestly can't remember if I have ever eaten it but we will be eating it sometime this year.  I bet the hubby is beyond excited about this possibility!  I wonder if I could grow it in our landscaping or in a large container?  I grew a variety of flowers and vegetables from Renee's Garden last year and look forward to growing more this upcoming year.

I made homemade Greek Yogurt.  You can make yogurt in the Crockpot but I have had better success using my Excalibur Dehydrator.  I also regularly use it to raise bread.  

My grandmother gave me 3 cards: 2 birthday cards and a Valentine's Day card that I will give to Elijah.

We went on a short day trip to meet up with some friends so we packed a cooler of drinks.  We stopped at a gas station and I redeemed a coupon for a free flavored water.  Our friends treated us to dinner which was nice.

I read a free book on my kindle.

I made homemade laundry detergent tabs.  I actually splurged and purchased these Tovolo Ice Trays just for this project.  So far this new recipe works great.

I sewed a dozen cloth wipes using fabric scraps.  (If you sew crib sheets you will cut out 4 squares in each of the corners.  These are the perfect size for cloth wipes!)

We attended our first week of Financial Peace University at a nearby church.

I started this new blog instead of paying to add more space to my wordpress blog.

What frugal things did you do last week?  

Valentine's Day DIY

I came across this idea on Pintrest for a cute Valentine's day decor last year.  I had trouble finding the wooden hearts last year so my sweet mother-in-law mailed them to me.  Life happened and I ended up not getting it finished.  A year later we have another one in our family!  If you look closely you will notice that the hearts are actually two different sizes.  I could only find 3" hearts this year so I made the hearts for Eli and Eva 3" instead of 4".

This was a really fun project to do and I love how it turned out!  Elijah and I had a lot of fun working on it during Evangeline's nap time.  He painted the blue heart and I finished it.  ;)

I can't believe how simple this project was.  I simply painted each heart twice with paint that I had on hand.  Then I used the Cricut Cartridge, Songbird to cut out each name.  They are all cut at 1.5 except for Mom which is cut at 1.25.  Then I painted each heart with sealer.  You could easily make this craft without owning a Cricut by using a Sharpie Marker or by painting the names.

I attached the ribbon connecting each heart together first by hot gluing each plaque to the ribbon.  (I did measure the distance between each heart.)  Then I glued two strips of ribbon to the top of the Dad plaque and tied them together.

Have you made any Valentine's Day Decor this year?