Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Christmas Gift Organizer

I am actually getting organized this year! I have created a Master Gift Giving List document and thought I would share it. Here's a fuzzy image of it...
CLICK HERE for a non fuzzy Holiday Gift Giving Master List

Print this out, get a hot cup of tea, gather some catalogs, open up pintrest, and get inspired and organized along with me!

This is what Christmas is all about... sharing God's Blessings with our loved ones! 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Cute Christmas Decoration

This adorable craft is so easy and cheap!


Take a large wide mouth canning jar and put some sprigs of something in it, (I used some evergreen bushes from the yard), cover them with water and then cranberries. Put a floating candle on the top, (the circle ones were pretty, but expensive- I found heart shaped ones at Hobby Lobby for 99 cents each!)

They were a great addition to our table at the women's advent night at our church! (Scuze the picture quality, it was dark on my iphone!)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Backyard Chickens Update

Our little A-frame coop- isn't it cute? I planted a grass and some flowers in front of it, but they are still working on growing!

Here's Daisy (do you read Jan Brett?)

Our curious birdie, whom we've raised since she was a chickie in March. She was around $2 at Murdoch's. 

 Here's the chickies when they were babies. We sadly lost two when we were on vacation and had 'chickie sitters.' :(

This has got to be the same chickie, don't you think? :) Daisy the camera (people) lover.

Our curious, lovable, friendly Daisy. She is the survivor of the pack. And she is the sweetest, most gentle girl. She chases the kids around the yard, runs to see us when we come out back, hangs out with our dog. She is the  best. But we couldn't leave her all alone all winter until we got new chicks next spring. She needs a buddy to keep her company when we're not out playing in the yard this winter. So we found a chicken adoption program.

This old bird...
we picked up for $5. Poor thing is an ex-industry hen. Her beak has been clipped on the top to prevent her from pecking other birds because she was kept in such close contact. She was so very skitish of us when we first got her, and even pecked poor Daisy quite a bit and Daisy had no idea what was going on! But now she is settling in and getting used to the 'easy life.' 1/4 acre she can share with Daisy, our dog (also a shelter rescue), and our family of four. She seems to be figuring out that she can trust us, and is even starting to let the girls pet her, though there is no way she is going to let them pick her up like Daisy does... yet :) She is now named Rapunzel by my 3 year old.

 Excuse our landscaping project, but here is our happy little herd.
I think it took around 4 days for our silly old dog to realize we had an extra chicken, and when she finally realized we had a new chicken and found out Rapunzel actually ran from her (or played with her, as Chloe saw it, unlike Daisy who just pecks her nose and makes her leave her alone) she thought it was so fun. Chloe was having a grand old time chasing poor old Rapunzel around the yard until I made Chloe go inside! 

If anyone stumbles upon this page and has questions, please ask! Also check out www.backyardchickens.com
But my favorite place to get down to Earth answers is Murdoch's or my friends or family who've had chickens in the past.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

1st Week of School Presents

My daughter loves preschool, and she loves her teachers. That alone is worth it's weight in gold! So I want to let her teachers know how much I appreciate their kindness to her during the day.

And... I was a primary teacher. And I know how exhausting that first week of school is. And they are doing most children's first week of school ever! So it must be tiring!

Here is what I made my two lovely preschool teachers...

I used my cricut to embellish cute white bags that said 'Thank You' and filled them with... 
 homemade peach preserves and...
 a note about how great they are! I used a rectangle of patterned paper, then a rectangle of plain paper, then the same patterned paper to make my apple with the cricut. I wrote "it's the little things..." at the beginning, then continued on to tell them how I am thankful for the little things they do, and at the end thanked them for one little thing I knew they did, like when one of her teacher's held her hand on the way back from the playground, or read her lunchbox note to her.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

My antiqued antique desk

So I had this yellow flowery desk since our neighbor gave it to us when we were kids. I adore it, and always have, but I don't have space for it anymore. So I Craigslisted it, (is that a word yet? It is in my world!)

Well, no one wanted my yellow, flowery antique, that was actually antiqued through nature. So I painted it white and distressed it. Let's see if it sells any faster...


I'll be honest, I like the white! Sorry butterflies.

1st Day of Preschool!!

Around here I am still in my clear out the clutter madness, so am not posting much, (seriously, 1 major garage sale with multiple carloads of stuff, and then still 4 trips to Goodwill with at least 4 trash bags in each trip!) I've been reading the Happiness Project, and though I am not starting my own project, I am taking her up on some of her advice, including getting organized! 

However, we had a big day today! And I since writing is a big love of mine, (you'd never be able to tell with how little I post...) I am going to post about our 1st day of Preschool!!!

My good friend told me of this chalkboard idea she saw on Pintrest, and though I am not on Pintrest... yet... I wanted to join in the fun!

So the idea would be that you take the same picture every year and create an album for your child when they graduate high school. I think it is pretty darn cute!

And here is the lunchbox note I stuck in her lunchbox. Quick stamps with a glittery sticker. I will get more creative next week, but she did tell me that her teacher read it to her, and that made me smile. 

Cute cute! Link up your favorite 1st day of school ideas! I found one, (a day too late) about 1st day of school Jitter Glitter and a party the night before. Next year!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Antiqued, Distressed Children's Wardrobe Turned Buffet

I haven't posted in a while because I went on a Clear Out the Clutter madness around my house. I'm still in the middle of it, but took a break to refinish an old children's wardrobe into our new dining room buffet.I painted it and distressed it into an antique finish that I love!

In my clear out the clutter madness I took this out of my daughter's room and bought her a 9-cube organizer from Home Depot.

I like these because I put their books in the top 3 cubes, then fill the bottom six with fabric drawers and put their toys in them.

Anyway, so I took this dresser out of my daughter's room, which is an adorable antique children's wardrobe that was actually my siblings and I's when we were young. I was about to sell it on craigslist and buy an old buffet for our dining room, when I realized I kind of liked it as our buffet, and I also didn't really want to get rid of it because of it's history with our family.

Antique Sewing Table Refinish

In my Clear Out the Clutter Madness I decided if I had a piece of furniture I wasn't using I had to get rid of it, no matter how much I loved it. I've had this old sewing table a friend gave me sitting around my house and my mom's house for over a year. So it was make or break time for it. I decided to refinish it and if I loved it, keep it, and if I didn't sell it on Craigslist... well, I loved it. It is now in our kitchen where the highchair used to be!

Here is my antiqued, distressed old sewing machine table... old black sewing machine still inside!

I used 'oops' paint from Home Depot, so total cost of make-over was $1, because I already owned the stain. (I did two coats of $0.50 oops paint, then distressed, then covered with Poly Stain.)

Friday, June 29, 2012

Fourth Of July Crafts for Kiddos!

Handprint 4th of July art, 4th of July tutus, and a firework pencil, what fun!

I am being organized this holiday. I am actually going to plan out events, and actually have the supplies needed... I will, I will! I am going on a retreat this weekend with my MOPs group, so hopefully I can get everything bought today...

Here is a little compilation of cute crafts I'm going to do with my 3 and 1 year olds.

Fireworks Pens 
(though I will be making pencils, and we will be using them to practice writing our F is for Flag worksheets, link HERE...)

These cute Handprint Eagle Shirts are adorable!
Then, to wear underneath, we will be making Fourth of July Tulle Tutus. My little girly girls are going to absolutely love wearing these, I think we will add glitter and stars to them, too.
What are you doing?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Stockpile This!

Coupons are a stay at home mommies best friend! Here are my deals this week that I am going to pick up a few of...

Using a Target Coupon to get $0.50 off this nail polish, you can get it for $0.44 each! I am planning on trying to pick up quite a few and stash them away for stocking stuffers.

 This cleaner was $1.82 at my Target, then I was able to combine two coupons for it.
A Target coupon for $1 off and also a $0.75 coupon you can get in the 4/1 Smart Source found in the Sunday Papers, (I save mine in a coupon binder.) In the end it was only $0.07! I plan on picking up a few of these and store them up to help my cleaning bill.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Daily Prayers of Grace and Thanksgiving for Mothers

Prayers to help turn thoughts to thanks and grace during the trying times of mothering...

 Lord, thank you for the daily opportunity to clean up after my children, I know other women praying daily for blessings to clean up after, and I have been graced with [two].

Lord, thank you for this home to clean, and capable hands to clean it. Please give me the wisdom to know when to clean, when to pray, when to play, and the strength to follow Your guidance in choosing.

Lord, thank you for the innocence of the eyes that brim with tears at a broken toy or stubbed toe, and give me the strength and wisdom to teach those eyes to see grace in the real pain that is coming.

Lord, help me focus on the joy in the creation, not the work in the clean-up, in the mess of toys and paint and play dough.

 Lord, give me the peace and calm that comes in the knowledge that these hard days are a blessing that has been given to me. These children are the biggest gift I will receive in my life. Give me the strength to stop and thank You for them every time we eat together.

Lord, help me realize that You are all my kids need, and You are all I need, and all our needs are met in You. Not in a bigger house, a cleaner play-room, or a new dining room table. Help me remember the more we focus on You the less empty we will feel, the happier we will be, and the more loving and peaceful our home will be.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Multitudes on Mondays

8. food crumbs left on smiling cheeks that don't care
9. eyes bright with wonder at a chipmunk
10. horse eyes staring back at us full with the knowledge of what is truly right and good, and what is not
11. laying close enough with my 3 and a half year-old that I can see the gold tint at the base of her eyelashes as she stares down
12. the smile of satisfaction on my 19-month-olds face as she says 'cookie' and is understood, and rewarded
13. Ann Voskamp baring her soul, so that I can more fully understand my own
14. the chance to start over, try again, be better, every minute of every day
15. the wrinkles and saggy belly button that make my daughters laugh, yet was created at their creation
16. watching tired eyes close in the rear-view mirror on the way home from the mountains

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Museums on a Budget

Being a thrifty mom is kind of my passion. I love a good deal. I love frugal living. I recently came across the term 'Christian Simplicity' and it resonated within me. My eyes widened and I felt something click. My urge for a simple and natural life would actually align with my religious principles? Would help me find Jesus better in my heart? I couldn't believe my luck.

This website can explain it better than me...
The good life is one that is inwardly rich toward God and outwardly rich toward our neighbor. Jesus offers such a life, but many of us have received his message on thorny soil. The cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and desires for other things have taken precedence and our lives are not as fruitful as they could be. Christian Simplicity works with God to help people transition from a heart of thorny soil to a heart of fertile soil. found here

or maybe this one...
Experiencing the inward reality [of christian simplicity] liberates us outwardly. Speech becomes truthful and honest. The lust for status and position is gone, because we no longer need status and position. We cease from showy extravagance, not on the grounds of being unable to afford it, but on the grounds of principle. Our goods become available to others. We join the experience that Richard E. Byrd recorded in his journal after months alone in the barren Arctic: 'I am learning ... that a man can live profoundly without masses of things. found here

There is so much to be found on the topic of christian simplicity, but I guess I shouldn't fill up my post with other people's writing and get on to what I was actually going to write about, and that was how to do museums with kids on a budget... a frugal, simple budget. 

Here is how I do it. I joined the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. My kids adore going there, especially because right now they have a lizards and snakes exhibit that is full of live animals. A family membership is $80, so really not that much. But, I went one step more... I joined at the 'Family Plus' membership level. For $115 dollars 2 adults and up to 7 guests (adult or children guests) can go to the museum, (I actually got it for less than that, they sent a flyer in the mail offering it for $95 if I bought by a certain date.) What I did, was asked my parents and sister if they wanted to split the membership with me. So we split it how we saw as fair, I paid $45, my sister paid $20, and my parent's paid $30. Now, we can all go to the museum as often as we like, and it was incredibly affordable! When I go with friends and their kids I can get most everyone in for free as well, which is nice for friends that are also living on a stay-at-home mom budget and maybe wouldn't pay for the museum, which is $13 for an adult, and $8 for each child! If you had a mommy friend or two you like to do trips with, you could split it with them!

We just got back from our 3rd trip in 3 months and the kids had so much fun. I enjoy getting out in the summer and not coming home covered in sunscreen and sweat, too! 

So, maybe my tip of splitting a membership with someone will be doable in your area? Working together we can all be thankfully thrifty! 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Lost Sock Solution

Where do lost socks go? Who knows. Is there a cure? Well, yes... and no. There is a cure, and I have the answer, or at least an answer. However, it takes a tiny bit of diligence from your entire family. So, is it a sure-fire solution? No. Goodness knows even a tiny bit of diligence is hard to squeeze out of everyone. But my solution WILL help your family's laundry, I promise! I have never had so few lost socks in my life!!

So here is my lost sock solution: the plastic clothes pin from Walmart, or 'peg' as my English husband calls them.

I keep a basket of them by dirty laundry hampers.  When I throw dirty socks in the laundry, I clip them together. It really takes just 1 extra second, I timed it. So it really is a small amount of diligence. 
When you pull your socks out of the laundry, they will still be together! It seems like magic, but it is true! I use the same peg to hang my socks up on the line, then throw the peg in with the clean, dry laundry when I am done. When I put the laundry away, I throw the pegs in the basket by the dirty laundry hamper. No more lost socks! Well.. in a perfect world.
This diligence, as simple as it seems, fails us sometimes. Every now and then I find a lone sock on the living room floor. I know, I know, my family is crazy. This would never happen to anyone else. But it happens to us. So I made a lone, lost sock hanger that I hang in our laundry room. I just super-glued clothes pins to a painted and distressed board and staple gunned a ribbon to the back. Easy, cheap and quick, and it has lasted for 5 years now, so pretty good! I usually find my matches this way. Every now and again I give up and throw a sock away.

I hope this post can help you! I absolutely adore my sock solution. I read other solutions... safety pin the socks together- too much effort, wash them rolled up- won't clean mine good enough, keep them in a bag- I will never go through that bag! buy all the same socks- boring... I can't remember the rest, but, either way, this solution finally worked for me. I have officially been using it for one year, and still like it, so it passes my test, for what that is worth!

Can you perfect my solution? Add your thoughts to the comments!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Multitudes On Mondays

Give thanks to the Lord for He is good. His love endures forever. psalm 107:1

Here I go! I am beginning my 1,000 gifts list, after Ann Voskamp! It's June, and that doesn't make sense to me, a teacher at heart, I like things to take place neatly within either a calendar year or a school year. June is now, and now is where I'm starting, so I have to just get over it!

1. life, in all it's messy glory, has to be my first gift
2. old friends I got to see at a wedding on Saturday, friends, some of whom I've known since I was 5
3. new friends, mommy friends, that have enriched my life since I've entered the 'mommy phase'
4. rainbows in the sprinkler water as we run through our sprinklers this morning
5. sunshine and wind drying our clothes naturally
6. fingerpaint
7. my two little babies, sweet sisters to each other

OK, this is harder than it looked! I'm trying to be specific, and yet want to thank God for everything and be incredibly general. I can only guess it will get easier...

Friday, June 15, 2012

Father's Day Craft for Babies, Toddler, Preschoolers

This is an easy Father's Day craft for young children. I did it with toddlers, but it could easily work for any age, really.

I put the child's hand-prints in paint, put them on a paper, then printed off this saying:

To Daddy With Love

My dirty little fingerprints
I've left on every wall,
And on the drawers and table tops,
I've really marked them all.
But here is one that won't rub off,
I'm giving it to you,
Because I'm thankful for a Father just like you!

But the hand-prints and paper in a little frame and you have an adorable father's day present.

This was mine from 2 years ago, I've been trying to remember but sadly I can't remember what we did last year, and this year we are making them today, so I will post that later hopefully!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

All You Need Is Love

I love this picture. It was taken on our family vacation to England. This was my 30th birthday. I asked for no party, no surprises, just a day at the beach with my family.

Mothers constantly question if what they are doing is right, and I am no exception. I must second guess, doubt, and judge myself ten times a day, on a good day.

This day and my present, time with my family, reminded me of how little they truly ask for- our love and some time.

The question I should ask first is: do my girls know I love them? And they do. I know that because when they are sick, they want me to hold them. When they are scared or nervous, their eyes turn to me.

In the end, really, The Beatles had it right: All You Need Is Love, the rest, everything, is just a bonus.

How Do You Show Your Husband Love?

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. John 13:34

Seems simple enough. I love my husband. I love my kids. I love my dog- done. Unfortunately, the simple part is not loving them, it is showing them I love them.

So many studies have proven that marital happiness takes a plummet after a couple has children. I can see why. I don't have the time, energy, or brain cells left to think, "Okay, Goosey is finally asleep after 30 mins of back rubbing, Gabbers' laundry needs to be hung out, then I have 2 phone calls to make while I check my emails before I race to get the dishes rinsed and in the dishwasher so before the kids wake up and need a snack and cuddle I can get dinner started, oh, and let me think of a way to show my husband and kids I love them." It just doesn't work like that for me. My brain is so scattered with my to-do list and my daily tasks that I don't always make it a priority to show love. True, love is embedded in the things I do. It's quite obvious I'd do anything for them, have I have completely given up my life for them, (to get a new, much fuller and rewarding life, I might add.)

I should still show them love more clearly. It's easy to forget. One day I stopped to think about my dear hardworking husband. I realized how very sad it is that he might not feel the full weight of my love. When we were dating, one time I took my now Hubbers in the car, and didn't tell him where we were going. I drove us 45 mins away to the top of the Grand Mesa in Colorado where I knew of a look out point you could watch the sun go down and the lights of the Grand Valley slowly flicker on. I took out some wine, (knowing him as well as I do now, what a sport he was to actually drink a whole glass of the local Honey Mead!) and a picnic lunch. We sat and watched the sky darken and the lights come on, put a blanket on, and just talked. We took a different route home and stopped to get a pizza in Montrose, Colorado. When is the last time I've done something even remotely like this?... I mean, I guess I did say he could go fishing without us tomorrow morning, but that's not really quite the same, is it? Though, it is a way I do show him love. 

I do need to make some more 'grand gestures' like that one. Yes, we are deep in the throughs of kid-raising. But we are still married, and when our kids are grown we will still need to feel whole together. These days, grand gestures are going to be fewer and more far between, so I thought of some 'not-so-grand gestures' I can do on an almost daily basis... 

Not-So-Grand Gestures to Show My Husband I Love Him... 
1. Do 'his' job when he doesn't expect it.
I mow the lawn when the kids are playing outside sometimes. It's nice to see his face when he comes home and doesn't have to do it. Sometimes I'll take out the trash, or make a phone call for him. You get the point.

2. Don't tell him about my day when he gets home.
Don't talk at all. Just smile, hug, and let him be. Maybe even ask him about is work after a bit of quiet.

3. Make him his favorite dinner and dessert.

4. Let him go fishing with the boys.
With no 'payback,' no sighs, no catch up work when he gets home. Just go have fun.

5. Look him in the eye.
When he's talking about his work. When he gets home. When you're eating breakfast. Pay attention to him, let him know he's more important than your text, dishes, or the news. 

6. Say, "I apppreciate..." and fill in the blank. 
I appreciate that you go to work for eight and a half hours everyday in a job you don't love so I can stay home. I appreciate that you never complain when I run out of groceries mid-week. I appreciate that you don't mind that my make-up and hair stuff easily takes up our whole double vanity. I appreciate how much love you have for your two little girls... etc.

Husbands don't ask for affection. They're not wired for that. My husband won't climb on the table, put his breakfast on my plate, and then squat next to the computer talking jibberish until I let him climb on my lap while I type, (as my 18-month-old just did, she obviously knows how to ask for affection when she needs it! Crazy monkey.)   

Maybe my list is small compared to others, but honestly, these days, I am exhausted with just the normal day to day. This is where I am starting. I will add to it. Can you add something in the comments?