Thursday, January 28, 2016

Handmade Christmas: Kitty Bags

These kitty bags are the only handmade Christmas gifts that I made last year. But totally worth the time creating.

Due to my grandmother's passing in early December and that I was able to fly to Oregon for the funeral, my schedule for getting gifts finished and sent out got pushed back quite a bit. Thus I ended up spending a late night creating these bags the week of Christmas! 

A little background: Our two youngest nieces ( ages 6 and 11) love cats. I mean, really LOVE cats. I pinned these cat coasters a while back as inspiration for creating a bag or something for the girls. 

Side note: Many of my Pinterest pins are ideas or inspiration for something else, not just because I want to make an identical item. Although sometimes I do! 

Back in early 2015, I found a 2 pack of kitty knee socks on super clearance at Kohl's. I knew the nieces would love them. Sadly, I could only find one pack of  the socks. They wear the same size so I divided the package up with one pair for each girl. I also found in my gift drawer some Hello Kitty pencils and a cat hair clip I'd bought at a craft fair. I had a few other small items as well. 

All these items brought inspiration for a kitty-themed gift! 

I decided to make kitty bags to hold all the loot. I used some thrifted linen-ish fabric for the front of the bag and added lots of colorful scraps for the rest. Everything was from my stash and I just picked things out and used them as I went, no real pre-planning involved! I used the idea from the cat coaster tutorial  and just enlarged and then did the rest accordingly.

The backs of the bags were super fun to make. I created a patchwork design as I went. All the prints made me happy! 

The handles turned out extra long; my plan was long enough to be used as a crossbody bag. They were a little long for a child but can be tied in a knot at the shoulder to adjust a bit. 

Anyways, just wanted to share some handmade creative fun! This was a fun gift to make! And the girls liked them too.

Monday, January 25, 2016

A Few Things For 2016

In my last post, I wrote a little about the doozy of a year that 2015 was for us.

I am always eager for a new year. January always feels clean and bright to me. New. Calm. Purposeful.

I tend to be all or nothing. So either I make all kinds of grandiose goals and crash and burn or I set no goals at all. Either way, not a whole lot of progress!

This year, I have a few areas I/we want to make some headway in so I'm writing them here as a way to remember.
  • Health. Returning to a lower carb diet. For us, that means ditching most wheat and sugar products. Losing the extra pounds that have crept on this year. Simple whole foods meals.  Regular exercise. Learning more about natural remedies and ways to boost health.
  • Frugality. Staying within my grocery budget on a weekly/monthly basis. Using some coupons to save extra on food and household items. Saving as much as we can to bump our emergency savings back up to a reasonable amount after a costly 2015. Continuing to save for our adoption. Revamping the budget to allow for extra baby expenses when the time comes. 
  • Organizing. Cleaning, organizing and decluttering the house before baby. I started this in 2015 and continue to do a little at a time. Turning the guest room into a nursery. Get rid of extra stuff we don't need to make room for baby gear. Make some freezer meals each month to create a small stash for when baby comes. (Not knowing when the baby will come makes this planning part tricky. My mindset is to do what I can and not sweat the rest. It will all work out!)
  • Being more home-centered. I worked a lot of hours away from home in 2015. While this was a blessing financially, being away from home so much has taken it's toll. I will not be taking on as many extra hours this year as a way to create some breathing room and allow me to focus more fully on what we feel my greatest priorities are and should be at this time. 
What are you focusing on this year? 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

2015: The Year Of Very Few Posts

2015 was not my best blogging year, to say the least.

There are many reasons for this but the biggest one is that 2015 was. a. year. There was good. There was not as good. It was crazy. It was wonderful. It was overwhelming at times. It was exhausting most of the time.

With my Grandma. July 2015.

  • Andy's grandfather(92) passed away in January. My grandmother (94) passed away in December. I also lost 2 great-aunts and 2 great-uncles this year. 
  • We began the adoption process informally in January and formally in March. Our home study began in July and finished up in August. We received notification of approval in October. We are officially a waiting family--our next step is to be chosen by a birth mother to parent her child. 
  • We went to Oregon to visit family in July. I went again for Grandma's funeral in December. 
  • We had 3 yard sale fundraisers for our adoption. Three! Many people donated household items to sell and all proceeds went into our adoption fund. It was a blessing and each sale was a rousing success but by the last one--let's just say we were more than happy to let Goodwill have the leftovers!
  • I worked a LOT of extra hours in 2015. A blessing, yes. I believe I worked more full-time hours than not.
  • We kept our car mechanic in business during the summer. There was a day or two where both vehicles were in the shop at the same time. Crazy! 
  • At the same time, we got good use out of our AAA membership. You know it's bad when the towing company recognizes your name immediately and asks "Where to this time?" 
  • We did lots of paperwork. Hello, adoption!
  • I've met lots of wonderful adoptive moms. Some are in process just like we are. 
  • We didn't do any home projects this year. We didn't garden. There's a reason there were no follow-ups to my Lasagna Gardening post--there was no follow-up! Ha! We hardly even went to the Farmer's Market this year. It was definitely a year of survival!
  • We saw God's hand in our lives in a powerful way. We have felt His Presence. We have seen Him move mightily in not only our lives but the lives around us. 
  • And that, my friends, is why we can face 2016 with hope and confidence. Because God (Immanuel) is with us! 
Christmas at our house.

Friday, July 31, 2015

39 Things About Me

In honor of my birthday this week, I thought it'd be fun to share 39 things you may or may not know about me.

1. I was born at home in the house my parents still live in.
2. I have a 1st cousin twin. Same day; same year. Born just a couple hours apart.
3. My mom often made homemade peach ice cream for my birthday while growing up.
4. I have never made ice cream.
5. I was always terrified of dogs until we got ours.(Power of persuasion!) After a few rough weeks, I was in love and he is now "my dog".
6. I considered nursing school before Early Childhood Education.
7. As a young adult, I had a back-up plan in case I never married.
8. I would be single and adopt a child.
9. My plan of support was to have my own small preschool attached to my home, not in it. I would call it The Bean Patch: Growing Little Sprouts.
10. I met my husband in fall of 2002.
11. We were married in October 2004.
12. We met on the internet. (Oh the things you find!)
 Celebrating my 2nd birthday with my twin cousin.
13. I've always been fascinated with names.
14. I was that "fun child" who often threw up on trips and in public places.
15. I love chocolate. Except for white chocolate.
16. My dad and I have the same sense of humor.
17. We still laugh at the same jokes we told in 1992.
18. I usually sleep when watching movies. Except in the theater.
19. I am a very literal person and concrete thinker.
20. I cannot wrap my head around movies that have time warps and such in them. I'm like, "But that could not happen!"
21. I love gravy.
22. And bacon.
23. I can spot clearance stickers and yard sale signs a mile away.
24. I love to cook and bake.
My 7th birthday celebrated while traveling. This was taken at a campground in Nebraska.
25. I've lived in 4 states.
26. I have an analytical personality.
27. But too many details drive me crazy.
28. Just give me the facts, please!
29. I thrive on routine.
30. Not big on surprises.
31. I'm naturally and "all or nothing" person. God is bringing that more into balance.
32. My favorite colors are red and a plum shade of purple.
33. I dislike getting on and off of escalators.
34. I usually dislike shopping.
35. I love staying home.
36. I'm a true morning person.
37. The early morning dark and quiet is wonderful.
38. I hate flip flops. Cannot stand that thing between my toes. 
39. I thought this would take longer and be harder than it was!

Your turn! Tell me a few random facts about you!

Thursday, July 23, 2015


Tomatoes from a friend at work.

Home-grown basil.

Late season strawberries from my Mom's  garden. In vintage Tupperware. (This picture was taken around July 4th when we visited my parents.)

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

July Pantry Challenge

As I mentioned last week, one of the ways we're saving money right now is by doing a Pantry Challenge this month.

We don't really have any rules for our pantry challenge except to spend as little as possible! We're utilizing the contents of our freezers(one upright and two refrigerator freezers) and pantry shelves and coming up with as many meals as possible.

So far, I've cooked a turkey, baked bread, made several bean dishes, cooked some split chicken breast bones(with lots of meat still on them) and made broth, soup and some diced chicken, made pancakes and corn muffins. Plus much more!

Our freezers aren't that well stocked right now since I've been cleaning them out and using up random items for the past several months. But there are still many good things to eat in there!

This week's supper menu looks like this:
1. Tomato soup, cheese melts, leftover coleslaw
2. Salmon patties, green beans, bread
3. Pork chops, broccoli, rice
4. Barbecue turkey sandwiches, applesauce, celery sticks
5. Black bean and rice dish
6. Turkey and gravy, rice, peas
7. "Eggroll in a bowl" with chicken instead of beef, rice

Not fancy,  but we will still get plenty to eat!

Breakfasts will be pancakes, pumpkin and zucchini bread I found in the back of the freezer, toast, eggs, etc.

Lunches will be leftovers, canned soup, split pea soup from freezer, peanut butter sandwiches, popcorn, canned fruit, etc.

My total spent so far for grocery/household items this month is $28.15. I'm planning an Aldi trip later today so will probably double that amount.

What are you eating this week? 

*Food pictures from the last couple of months. From top to bottom, ham and broccoli frittata, pumpkin bread and some goodies from the Farmer's Market!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Frugal Stuff

How about some frugal things we've been doing lately to save money?

We're saving for our adoption and paying for some repairs that popped up this summer so we're in super frugal mode around here!

1. I'm doing a pantry challenge in July seeing how many meals I can make without going to the store. We should be able to eat well for a couple of weeks.

2. Instead of buying a baby gift for a recent baby shower, I made one with scraps I had on hand. I made a set of 3 burp cloths using this tutorial then made a matching tag blanket. I forgot to take a picture of the burp cloths--they turned out really cute. I used the pink minky for one side of each burpcloth (had just enough with a few scraps left!) then used the green and pink cotton prints for the other side. I paired the pink gingham and strawberry print together since neither one was enough as they were. Frugal or not, I really prefer making my gifts to buying them--very enjoyable!
Front of tag blanket.
Reverse side of tag blanket.
3. I cooked a turkey I had in the freezer. This turkey was bought during Thanksgiving sales at 59 cents a pound. I bought two turkeys last year and this was my last one. It's been hot so I was able to cook it in my large crockpot rather than heat up the kitchen by turning on the oven. I made a big batch of gravy to freeze with the stock from cooking the turkey then made some more broth with the skins and carcass. I got at least 12 cups meat off the turkey too. The turkey was around 13 pounds. We'll get quite a few meals from one bird!

4. The library has become my free bookstore. I've been requesting the books needed as part of our adoption training. There is only one item on the list that isn't available through the library! These are the two books I'm reading right now.

5. I had some onions that were starting to go bad. I cut the mushy spots off then sliced the onions and filled the dehydrator with them. A day later, I had my own dried minced onions.

6. Andy won a giveaway at Sport Clips back in March during March Madness. Whoever submitted the bracket with the most wins would get free haircuts for a year. Well, his bracket wasn't that good but he was the only one to enter at our location so he received the prize! So, he has been getting free haircuts! He does leave a tip each time.

7. I made some cute pillows for our front porch chairs using what I had on hand. Since these are out in the weather, I used old pillow forms as well so it doesn't matter if they get nasty after a while. I love red, white and blue for summer!

8. And just for fun--free entertainment at the dog's expense. I never fail to enjoy wrapping Rock up in a towel when drying his feet and body off after being outside. Always amuses me! Here he is thinking, "Seriously, what is she going to make me do next?!?"
 What fun, free and frugal things have you been doing lately?