Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Peppermint Cure

I like mice. I think they're cute! I don't scream and jump on chairs when I see them. I usually catch them, show them to the kiddos and then release them at the back of my property.

I don't like mice. They're filthy. They poop everywhere and make a lot of noise in my attic when I'm trying to sleep. I have no problem trapping them and releasing their dead, squished bodies to a plastic bag and throwing them away.

Well....actually, I do have a problem. I hate setting those traps. I also don't want the mice in my house to begin with. But, I live in the country. I live next to a farm field. They're par for the course.

I'm not keen on poisoning the boogers. That just makes them die in my walls and stink the house up until their carcasses rot thoroughly. I also had a problem a couple years ago of them carrying the poison around and depositing it where my dog or my children could get to it! Boy, was that scary!

So, everyone says peppermint! Mice hate peppermint. The thought of sprinkling peppermint around my house isn't really intriguing to me, but I do have other ideas. I'm wondering if I should start cleaning my house with my cleaning products infused with peppermint oil. Also, I'm thinking I could plant peppermint around the base of my house outside.

Well, I guess it's worth a try. If that doesn't work, I'll have to either get a cat or hire someone to do a full-on inspection to not only exterminate but also find where the mice are getting in.

Anyone have any other ideas?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Upcycled Denim Skirt

Didn't cost me one red cent. I found an old pair of jeans in a rag heap. I found the toile fabric in my stash. Bing bang boom, an 8 gored denim and toile skirt! For the waistline, I cut the waistband off the jeans and reattached it to the skirt! The fly is simply snapped closed. Voila!

I thought of selling it on etsy, but I like it for myself and the jeans I used were well worn jeans, so there are a couple of light stains.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Tasha Tudor's Garden Book Sale!

My wonderful penpal gave me this book for my birthday! I LOVE it! But, as it happens with really good books, we wind up one way or another with 2 delightful copies! So, I get to keep the copy my lovely penpal blessed me with, and you can purchase my 2nd copy for half the price of the going rate on ebay! $20.00 covers the cost of the book AND shipping. It's a new-ish book in excellent condition, hardcover with dust jacket. The dust jacket does show a little bit of wear, but no tears. If you're interested, e-mail me at seamstresslady at yahoo dot com

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Men of My Church

This is exactly what I prayed for when I was a lone teenager sitting in the small congregation of mostly old women of my church; that the Lord would bring Godly MEN into our church. Family men with their families, young men, old men on fire for the Lord. The Lord answered!

While our church is still rather small, we have MEN serving and leading. Gentlemen of all ages.

We had the old bathrooms redone recently. While the church hired out for the extensive work, the finishing touches were done by men of the church who volunteered their time. They approached the ladies of the church and asked us what we would like in the bathroom. One of the men suggested a shelf near the commode for our purses! I'm used to guys being condescending about a woman's purse needs and the extra needs of a lady's room, but these men were loving and respectful and genuinely concerned with our comfort and convenience.

The men of the church made sure the nursery and classrooms (we do have family-integrated services, but we also offer a very "meat-and-potatoes" children's church), very female-dominated areas of the church were in complete repair and ultimate comfort.

When my husband cannot make it to church due to work, the men of the church always step in unasked to lend a hand, whether carrying diaper bags, holding the hands of my children in the parking lot, even buckling them into their carseats for me. And I'm not talking about the middle-aged fathers. While they help, the young men of the church (tweens and teens) always lend a hand opening doors, even carrying the baby carrier for me. No one tells them to. They don't huff and puff and act all bothered by helping. They willingly help, as if they don't give it a second thought. It's just the natural and right thing to do.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Memories of Victoria Magazine

I was just a young, teenage girl when my mother came home with a stack of Victoria magazine back issues from a garage sale. They once belonged to a lady named Violet and the yellowed address labels intrigued me as much as the beautiful covers. I remember curling up in our sunny front porch with the stack next to me, pouring over the magazines with dreams of wearing the beautiful, feminine clothing and living in that Anglophile-esque world.

While other girls subscribed to Seventeen (a magazine I was forbidden from reading, thank God!), I subscribed to Victoria. I loved getting a magazine a month and looked forward to receiving them. I kept every issue. In the meantime, my mother found more issues in garage sales and library sales and passed them all onto me.

When I got married, the Victoria magazines came with me, along with my undying subscription. Then, one day, I got that sad notice in the mail. Victoria magazine was no longer going to be published. My substitute was Cottage Living (of which I have every issue). Unfortunately, that magazine is no longer published and I've substituted with Cottages and Bungalows. In the meantime, I was sent an announcement that Victoria magazine was going to be republished! I subscribed right away!

I love receiving Victoria in the mail. When I can, I add to my collection with back issues I or my mother find. I recently ordered both 1990 and 1991 - 24 magazines!

I do have some extra issues, though. My mother found these and I am selling them for her. The price of $2.50 each includes shipping. International shipping (Alaska and Hawaii) is extra.

Happy Birthday, Bubby!

He's 5 years old today! My first-born. My preemie. My amazing little man. So much like his Daddy. Little guy with a big personality. A hard-worker. My snuggle bug.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Why Is There A Dryer Ball On My Dining Room Hutch ~ Or Getting Better Organized

Did you ever walk through your house and see something completely out of place and wonder why in the world it is there? I was walking through my house after getting the kiddos to bed and noticed one of my dryer balls sitting on my dining room hutch. I shook my head, AND LEFT IT THERE, making a mental note to get things organized-my never ending task in this tiny house. Well, the dryer ball on the hutch has since disappeared as one child or another has moved it elsewhere after a bit of play.

A plastic cow took up residence on the cool-mist humidifier, also, but has since moved on to green pastures. Last I knew, he was living in the wooden block box.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Winter's Tight Grip

I looked at the extended forecast and it seems winter does not want to leave! Snow still covers the ground here. Snow is still going to fall. Temperatures aren't going rise much higher than 40 degrees.

I want to complain, but then I remember something important. This is PERFECT weather for maple syrup production! Last year, Spring arrived early, devastating the maple syrup farmers. This year, sugar shacks around the state are overflowing with sap!

The photo above is of part of my brother's small operation. That pale blue line going through the trees along the stream carry the sap from the trees down to his sugar shack by gravity. So, what is bothersome for some is a blessing for others.

Self-Discipline of a Salad

Spring is upon us and with it comes the yearly change in appetite for me. I switch from heavier, stick-to-your-ribs foods to lighter fare. I've switched from cheddar cheese to muenster and soft cheeses. And, I begin looking at fresh leafy greens rather than cooked.

Unfortunately, I lack the self-discipline to create and eat a salad. Salads are time-consuming and they don't tend to keep well once made. I have visions of delicious, healthy salads in so many varieties, but never seem to get past opening the fridge door!

One of these days I'm just going to have to put my big-girl apron on and start chopping. I'll have that salad yet! It just takes self-discipline.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Bit of Feminine

Photography by my 4 year old!

Church hair! Those vintage pearl combs were my anniversary present from my darling hubby!

Here I am with my little girl, ready for church! We have so few mother-daughter pictures since I am usually the photographer. It's nice to have my oldest want to take pictures. I can finally get in on them!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Command Strips

Ok, I just gotta say that I LOVE Command Strips!

And what a great invention for renters! Now, they don't have to worry about landlords getting upset over holes in the wall.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Large Family Logistics Giveaway!

Joyful Living is giving away the book "Large Family Logistics!" It's easy to enter, so check it out HERE!

No Waste Family

I find this so interesting....and challenging! I love finding ways to reduce my garbage and excess. But, what else I liked about this video is how organized and tidy their home is! While I don't go for the black and white sterile atmosphere, personally, I love how crisp, clean and organized it is. There's no ridiculous excess!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Raising Homemakers Phonics Museum Reading Course Giveaway!!

Raising Homemakers is hosting a giveaway of a Phonics Museum Reading Course from Veritas Press! This is a 2 year curriculum for phonics and reading! Isn't that amazing?!

Click HERE to enter!

9 Months and Counting

Baby boy is 9 months old today! He's also still breast feeding! My goal and prayer was 6 months, but I always wished for a year. Looks like we're heading to that 1 year finish line, and perhaps even beyond!

I have noticed that if I lose any more than 2 lbs, my milk wanes. If I put those 2 lbs back on, I have milk! It's not like I'm starving myself. I'm trying to lose very gradually, but it seems I NEED those extra 7-10 post-preggy pounds to keep my milk up. I guess not fitting in my skinny clothes is a small price to pay for the fulfilled dream of breast feeding longer than a few months!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Scottish Lye Soap

The other day my order of Scottish Lye Soap from No Sweat Soap arrived in the mail! Since my friend is pretty much a one-woman show, the soap arrives in need of drying. Thankfully, I found this enamel colander at Target on clearance the day before, so I put it to use. In 2-4 weeks, the soap will be nicely dried, will lather up well, and last a long time. For now, it's a lovely, functional decoration in my bathroom!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The First Robin of Spring

Monday, I saw my first robin of spring. Ironically, it was the earliest I've EVER seen a robin AND I saw him during a snowstorm!

The groundhog said spring would be early this year.

The robin said spring would be early this year.

I'm still buried under at least a foot of snow!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

He Has Taken It Upon Himself....

My oldest has taken it upon himself to remove the large snowbank on the side of our property. He believes this is a job a man would normally do, so he just has to do it. So, every day that it is nice enough to venture out, he gets himself dressed in his too-small snowsuit (he insists on wearing it, though he has another that fits) grabs his kid-sized snow shovel and attacks that snowbank!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Home School Desk Solutions

Read more about this solution HERE.

Our home school room is being established in our little enclosed porch. Originally, I had a roll top desk for my oldest, but now that his sister is getting interested in joining us, I can see needing more desk space. Besides, I could use that roll top as my teacher's desk! I like having designated spaces.

A friend of mine on facebook posted the above article on her wall and I like the idea! My other ideas include just a table and chairs or asking my neighbor for a few of the old desks out of the old one room schoolhouse on his property that he owns.

But, I do really like this idea, especially the baskets hanging down the side of the bookcase!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Toss 25 Things ~ The Great Toy Challenge

Well, I did it. I finally managed to get together 25 toys to toss. I'm not posting any pictures, though, in case my children see my blog over my shoulder and start asking for toys back that they haven't played with in over a year! I put all the toys in a storage tote for now. They'll be sorted and passed on to Goodwill soon. In the tote are some stuffed animals, some toy cars that aren't played with or parts of sets, an old broken fisher price house, a barbie-sized bicycle (we don't have any barbies), an extra dolly, a pirate ship tub toy that never gets played with, and other things. The nice toys will go to Goodwill, the others recycled if they can be.

There. I got rid of some toys just in time for birthdays to start coming up. I'm being very particular this time around (my family ALWAYS asks what they can get the kiddos so we've settled on a system like a baby or wedding registry even for birthdays.) I'm thinking lots of art supplies, things the kids can use but will use up!

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Mother Garden

Do a Mother Garden google search or check out THIS ebay Australia store! Isn't this such a beautiful line of toys for our little girls? I hope this line comes state side SOON! I won't buy from China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, or Hong Kong over the internet. I've had my credit card stolen in the past when I tried buying a book from Australia and it was used to buy over $3,000 worth of hotel rooms in China.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Finding A Toy Cash Register

Oh, could make it easy on myself and just buy the cheap, plastic one at Target. The problem is, plastic toys don't last in my house and wood is so much more charming. Here's what I found that I liked:
Simple, old-fashioned look and there's a bell that rings, but it's $69.95!
This one comes with a lot, but the play money looks really small and it's a whopping $89.95!,1349.html
This has the scanner and credit card pad so popular with the kids because the cheap plastic ones feature them, too. And it's only $29.99!

I'm leaning towards the last one.

If you know of any others, please share.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Learning to Love Soups

As family grows and food prices rise, I'm learning to love soups as a healthful, economical and tasteful meal for my family.

Growing up, soups were either from a can or were tasteless, anemic broths with little substance. Hence, I developed a dislike for soups and avoided making them. I've always liked hearty stews and chowders, though, so I've made those. Lately, though, I've been dabbling more and more in making soups and they're not as bad as I used to think!

I've learned to start with a good, hearty stock. Growing up during the "fat free" craze of the 90's, I remember my dear mother boiling boneless, skinless chicken breasts and lamenting at the lack of flavor and color in the broth. Now, we have Nourishing Traditions smarts and we know to use skin, bones, meat, feet, hocks and gizzards to create a hearty, extremely healthy stock.

I've also learned to use herbs. I love herbs. I have an herb garden. I have an entire shelf in a kitchen cabinet dedicated to herbs. Herbs add to the flavor and health of the stock.

I've also learned to use more stock than water. Don't water down a stock any more than you absolutely need to.

I've also learned to use other additions such as balsamic vinegar, cooking wines or tomato products.

Tonight, I'm making a beef barley vegetable soup.

What's your favorite soup? Could you share the recipe with me?

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Denim Skirt

Hubby isn't a fan of denim skirts, but I made one when I was pregnant out of a pair of maternity jeans that had holes in the knees. It quickly became my favorite wardrobe grab. It was comfortable. It fit better than maternity jeans. It went with everything, and it made me feel more feminine. So, I found this skirt on ebay and thought that I could probably make one like it! It fits the bill of denim without being a strict denim skirt!

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Rock-a-Bye Baby

Sometimes, it takes an incredible amount of patience to deal with a fussy baby who refuses to fall asleep. Sometimes, those nights are rare when you can lay your baby in the crib and he falls asleep on his own. Sometimes, it seems that he's so worked up, it seems he doesn't even want you! He's exhausted, yet won't sleep.

So you pace.

And you rock.

And you hum softly.

And you feel your blood pressure rising with every wiggle and every cry coming out of that little body.

Well, I don't know about YOU, but sometimes, I really don't like dealing with that. Then, I remember that this is what I signed up for. This is what I dreamed about in my girlhood. This is what I prayed for.

And then, he falls asleep and I am overjoyed at having been a part of that; to have witnessed the peace and quietude falling over him as he gives up the fight, and falls limp and blissfully asleep in my arms. I can finally lay him down, but find myself reluctant to do so. The baby I wished I could just place in the crib and not have to rock now has me captive and I don't want to part.

Friday, March 04, 2011

He Knows Me So Well

This past weekend, the children, a friend of mine and I met hubby after work at hotel so we could attend an indoor fair. The drive took 2 1/2 hours in foul weather.

Once we arrived and got into our suite, I thought I was doing well. I wasn't broody or moody. I wasn't quick tempered. I felt happy. But, hubby looked me dead in the eyes and said, "Will you calm down!"

It took my by surprise, because I thought I wasn't tense. But, a quick evaluation of myself and I realized that I WAS. My arms were held stick straight to my sides, elbows locked. My jaw was clenched the way it gets when I'm stressed. My brows were furrowed and I darted about the suite, unable to focus on any particular task.

It took some concentrated effort, but I did manage to calm down. LOL! The problem is that I'm so tense and stressed almost all the time that I don't realize it! Anxiety runs in my family, if it's even at all possible to do so. If it isn't nature, then it's definitely something I picked up while growing up.

So, lately, I've been trying to recognize when I'm stressed and tense. I focus on relaxing. Getting better sleep, exercising in the morning, and cutting out white flour and refined sugars have helped. Reading God's Word and praying through is certainly top on the list. Also, I'm learning to just do or not do and quit worrying about it in self-debate.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

I Love My Bread Machine That Never Bakes

Years ago I bought a practically new bread machine at a garage sale for a steal. Fully intending on baking fresh loaves weekly, I wasn't prepared for the hole-filled bricks that would emerge. The machine went back into the cabinet.

Fast forward a couple of years. Out of necessity and interest, my father began baking breads. He has a few bread machines picked up at garage sales. I wasn't the only one unimpressed with what emerged from those machines. My father instead used the machines to mix and rise the dough, but shaped the loaves himself and baked them in the oven. I thought this clever, so I began doing the same. He is now one of the BEST bread makers I know. I'm telling you, his bread is superb! Mine is pretty good.

So, now I LOVE my bread machine. I use it to mix and rise my pizza dough, bread, and today, noodles! But, the machine never bakes. The kiddos love peering in to see the paddles work.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Eating Healthfully For Less

Let's face it, eating healthfully can be expensive! Add organic to that list and your grocery budget goes out the window! I admit that it is easy to fall into grabbing the cheap stuff when you're trying to keep within a small grocery budget. I used to. But now I just can't bring myself to. On the other hand, I hate seeing hubby's hard-earned money slip through my fingers at the checkout line while I walk out with only two bags of groceries! Still, it's better to spend the money on good quality food, getting bang for your buck so to speak, than to waste it on worthless foods.

Here's what I'm doing to feed my family better for less:

Oatmeal for breakfast every other day. Soaked oatmeal, to be precise. On the other days, I make eggs. Sunday is for special treats like pancakes or french toast.
I'm back to making homemade yogurt.
Simple lunches of a good bread, cheese, and fruits and veggies, or peanut butter and local honey, or leftovers.
More soups and stir fry dinners (I'm not a casserole fan)
Eliminate snacking. Our waistlines don't need it and our kids tend to ignore dinner if allowed to snack. If we're truly hungry, it's fruit or veggies, air-popped organic popcorn I buy in bulk, or a homemade bread of some sort with a hearty, good butter (at $4.00 a pound!!)

Pasta is a quick, cheap and easy grab, but isn't that healthful. We still eat it, but I try not to eat it too often. I get potatoes at a local farm for a REALLY good price, and I grow some of my own. Also, we LOVE rice in this family. Brown, basmati, jasmine, wild.... I also like other cereals and grains such as quinoa, buckwheat, barley, and bulgar. Otherwise, simple homemade buttermilk or sour milk biscuits make a nice side dish.

I try to buy whole chickens or bone-in rather than boneless, skinless breasts and cutlets. I still get the meat, but I also get bones and skin that make great broths for soups and gravies for meals in and of themselves.

Befriend farmers and hunters. They often have extra meat cluttering up their freezers they're willing to part with for cheap or free to make room for the next butchering. We've been given beef, chicken, lobsters, bear and venison. Of course, we're not friends with them just to get free meat. We're friends because we love them and help them out in return any way we can.

GARDEN and befriend gardeners! I love to garden. My neighbor loves to garden. She's got much more space to garden than I do and much more produce than she knows what to do with, so when she leaves for the county fair every year she tells me to pick it clean!

What are some of your tricks for eating healthfully for less? Please share, even casserole recipes so long as they don't include canned soups.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

A is for Annabelle Fabric!

Tasha Tudor and Family has just released their line of A is for Annabelle fabrics! They are beautiful! My mind is racing with ideas for them for my own little girl, who isn't really quite that feminine herself (more of a horse girl than an antique dolly girl). I was thinking of getting the book for my niece for her birthday. Now, I wonder if I can make something to go with it! I better hurry. Her birthday is very soon!

Toss 25 Things ~ The Bedroom Challenge

This challenge was harder since I had recently cleaned out the master bedroom. I did find my 25 things when I opened up my stationary drawer.

Are you noticing that I'm putting off going through the kids' toys?