Saturday, April 30, 2011

Made by Me: Initial Bookmarks

I whipped these cute little bookmarks the other day after being inspired by this tutorial:

For the main part of the bookmark, I used some old jeans and just "eyeballed" the measurements of a bookmark, right sides together, turned & top-stiched.

For the roses, I used some leftover red cotton (from a couple halloweens ago when our family dressed up as a BLT ....bread, bacon, lettuce, and a tomato with an extra jar of mayo - it was hilarious!) that I cut into long, thin triangles, and then got out my tacky glue and twirled away until I liked the look of the flower.

Then, I cut small pieces of green felt into a leaf-shape, sewed it down (in leaf-vein fashion) and then I hot-glued the rose onto the petals.

I like to personalize my gifts, so I initialed them with some extra felt (all sewn in). I think they turned out super-cute - the only thing I might do differently next time is to reinforce it with the interfacing....I don't know, I think it's fine the way it is, too. I'm also going to be doing some with bible verses or key words like "Faith" or "Believe"....just need a couple extra hours in the day!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Frugal Friday: Squeezing the most out of your Juice!

I'm going to attempt to be more purposeful in my blogging and introduce some "category" days, starting with "Frugal Fridays." I decided on "Frugal" because when you have a one-income family with five kids, and two of them are 12-year old boys, you are probably looking for ways to stretch your dollar and/or grocery budget.

Now, if your family is anything like ours (and I'll assume you are, that's why you're still reading) you go through a lot of juice. We have ALWAYS watered down our juice in the cup (at least half and half) because there is way too much sugar in there...but my husband came up with an idea even better. We add water to the original container as soon as we pour some into a cup! Now they don't actually "see" us watering their drinks down (which sometimes is distressing for them!), and one 64-oz container of juice lasts TWICE as long! I know what you are thinking, that is a no-brainer, but for us, it's been a simple solution that saves money AND whining! Now that's a win-win for everyone.

Monday, April 25, 2011

April 25: Honor your Domestic Goddess.

Do you rock an apron? I do. (I hear the snickering, and if you are Viv and Sarah, you have caught me in my apron, and curlers,, flour about mommyhood!)

In fact, I would wear an apron everyday if I's so handy, all those roomy pockets, waiting to be filled with iPhones, found batteries, pens, pencils,'s like walking around with a diaper-bag all the time....that's wayyyy cuter. When I put my apron on, it's like preparing for battle, the necessary armor that gives me that extra blanket of security as I'm about to step into the heat of the kitchen (or craft room/table). Something about tying those wraps around your waist is so empowering - a modern-woman's tool-belt. Seriously, though. I know some of you are thinking I've lost my mind, I'm just going old-school and all, but please, just try it. See if it doesn't stir up some memories of your grandma, whipping up a batch of cookies (from scratch, with a KitchenAid)...there is nothing better than that!

Right now, my Apron collection is a little wanton. I have one in denim that I found at the thrift store, and one other one I bought in Hawaii, both of them have served me well, but I think it's time to amp it up a bit. That's why I'm adding "sew an Apron" to my growing-by-the-day sewing list. I haven't decided what I want it to actually look like, but I do know the features I'd like to incorporate. Not sure if I'm going to use a pattern or not, it seems pretty straight-forward, and I want to keep a fairly simple design. If you have a good web-site, or any ideas, let me know!

Monday, April 18, 2011

April 18: Catching up!

It seems like I'm always in a perpetual state of "catch up". There are days when I much more ahead than behind, but for the most part, I'm comfortably parked in the wide seat of my extensive "to-do" list, and that is alright with me.

There are days I feel overwhelmed, completely unmotivated to do anything (but of course I still do!) and days that I feel such an enormous sense of accomplishment that feel as if I could float on that wave forever. Don't read more into this than there is - I'm definitely not suffering at the hands of any malicious mental roller-coaster ride....I just think there is a lot of people who feel this way, but can't seem to find their way out of the "fog" of life and never get to "float" on waves of accomplishment. If you're reading this and nodding, read on and let some of my favorite life verses encourage you:

1. This life is short.
We need to keep this in the forefront of our every thought. This life is so short, your health is a gift, each breath of each day is a GIFT. An undeserved gift, in fact. What would it look like if we were to start our days in the humble acknowledgement that even our waking from sleep is not guaranteed? A healthy dose of this realization is the perfect prescription for professional procrastinators (like me!)....what if you didn't have tomorrow? What would you do TODAY? I know that I would spend less time worrying about cleaning my floors or the way I look and invest more time enjoying my children while they are small and I'm graciously able to stay home with them.

Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away." - James 4:14

2. People are more important than TASKS or THINGS.
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. -John 13:34-35

Tasks are important. But when things (like the computer) or tasks (cleaning, etc.) are put before your family, you need to re-evaluate your priorities. I think most people understand this, but without reminding, we can quickly allow the pleasures of this world (and there are MANY!) to lead us astray.

3. Appreciate your place in life - and the beauty of the things around you -
Contentment with WHERE God has placed you RIGHT NOW is probably one of the biggest things that people struggle with. "My life would be so much better if__________________." I would be so much happier if _____________________." Don't let the "ifs" of life rob you of your present joy. Your life could change drastically in an instant and tomorrow you may be wishing for the reality of today - so enjoy it.
When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?

5 You have made them a little lower than the angels
and crowned them with glory and honor.
6 You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
you put everything under their feet. - Psalm 8:3-6

4. Celebrate the small victories, and don't measure your progress against anyone else's.
There is NO ONE on earth like you, your journey is yours. Your path is yours. Don't get lost on someone's else's!

5. Don't fret over tomorrow.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own - Matthew 6:34
Seriously, here. Does worry change anything? Do you often find yourself on the other side of the "mountain" you were stressing over only to realize it was really a molehill? Yep, thought so.

6. Train your thoughts.
Let's say your bent towards the "glass half empty" type of thinking. So, when you put your foot directly into a poop-filled baby diaper that you just took off your squirming 1-year-old (who you are trying to wrestle into the bath)...IF your immediate thought is - "uuuugggggghhhhhh, why me???? This is SOOOOO gross! How am I going to clean THIS up while trying to hold the baby at the same time? This is TERRIBLE! I HATE POOP!" INSTEAD, Train yourself to think: "Wow, it's a good thing that I didn't slip on that diaper, drop the baby, or smear it into the carpet." It will probably distract your negative-thinking gnome long enough for you to bypass the anger you might have felt originally. Just try it, trust me, it works. Think of what COULD have happened, and you will be thankful that it didn't!

That's all I can think of right now....I hope it encouraged or inspired you in some way!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

April 1, 2011: Woogie is 5!

I just love that picture. It's so 80's, an instant classic. Well, Luke is now 5, much to his delight, and dismay, because he CAN'T play baseball or go to school yet. He fails to grasp that concept completely, my fault, for I kept telling him that he could play and go to school "when he is 5". [Parents of 3 and under, heed my warning: they will listen to everything you say, and then use it against you later. You may *think* they don't hear you, but it's just a clever trick, don't fall for it.]

What I love about Luke is that he is so determined. He knows exactly what he wants, and proceeds to work until he gets it...take for instance, our birthday "outing" to the BX - we went to the donut shop first, he got a chocolate chip muffin and some lemonade (lemonade?!??), and then when we went shopping (me with Isaac in the backpack carrier, trying to keep Josh contained to the small confines of the shopping cart), he chose a 1.) harmonica, 2.) A "Fur Real" Cat that purrs, and 3.) Baseball bases and new batting gloves (I told you he really thinks he is playing this season....he tells me ALL.THE.TIME. "I'm going to be late for practice, mom, and my coach will be mad!!")
I let him pick out his gifts, because his REAL gift is a new B-I-K-E, which he still hasn't seen yet, because Jeff needs to put it together and we haven't actually had any time at all...besides sleeping time, and we can't afford to cut any of that! I'll put up some pics when we do finally give him his new bike!

It does seem like just yesterday that we were at David Grant with our precious little Lukie...who was so quiet, so soft and happy and content. Things were so different then, so much easier, but we didn't think so at the time! We were living in a brand new house in Dixon, I was homeschooling Dylan, and we had only been married a year...and we didn't know what we were doing, really. It's neat how you grow so much when you have children, your priorities change, your selfish desires wane and are replaced by a desire to serve your family. Of course, my Christian path is more heavily trodden, too...and in my spiritual growth, confronted by spiritual truths, you are able to see how far you've come, while at the same time realizing how far you still have to go. That was a rabbit trail...sorry about that!

Happy Birthday, Luke. Soon you will be playing baseball, in 5 months you will be starting many exciting journeys for you still undiscovered! We love you!