Saturday, December 31, 2011

Year In Review

To quickly recap my blog in 2011...

On the practical side of things, I shared why I regularly purge, declutter and get rid of things, some easy meals, painting our dining room, and about using recycled gift wrap.

We continued to enjoy living frugally learning how to make homemade laundry soap and how to cut my own boneless, skinless chicken breasts, saving money on groceries in spite of rising prices, using coupons, shared about eating frugally while on vacation and of course scouring yard sales and thrift stores for hidden treasures. I even picked up a thing or two off the curb on trash day!

We love living a simple life and this year enjoyed seasonal homemade meals, shopping at the local Farmer's Market, and thoroughly embracing each season--winter, spring, summer and fall.

Creativity was a big part of our year as well...We made our own fun by dressing up a squash, grew grass for decoration, entertained the kidlets on the cheap and found an extra closet! I enjoyed making crafty things for gifts and our home!

Life was full once again with a trip to Oregon to visit my parents, changing our eating habits, and celebrating 7 years of marriage with a trip to the mountains. Taking care of several little ones during the week leaves me very little time for naps! We experienced God's kindness and provision and grew in His Word.

We thank God for His goodness and look forward to more of the same in 2012!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

This Year's Handmade Christmas Gifts

Now that family members have all opened their Christmas gifts from us, I can share some of the gifts here! I didn't make as many of my gifts this year but still did manage to come up with a few.

I really like making gifts. It's part of who I am. And if I don't make gifts, I still enjoy picking out and creatively putting things together to create a fun gift! I think it's safe to say that gift giving (and receiving) is probably my main love language.

A few of the gift mixes.

For the ladies-moms and sisters:
For my sister:
  • 2 bags freshly ground whole wheat flour-- Using my grain mill and wheat I have on hand. She bakes a lot for her family and doesn't have a grain mill so a practical and appreciated gift!

For grandparents and great-aunt: 

For my youngest niece: 
  • Felt food-- a doughnut, cupcake, cinnamon roll and a chocolate chip cookie. Making small objects out of felt is very addicting. It's unbelievable how much fun I had with this! These fit perfectly stacked in a small oatmeal container covered with scrapbook paper. My niece (2 1/2 years) loved the food and these fit perfectly on the plates of her new tin tea set which was a gift from her grandparents!
Wrapping ideas: 
Did you give or receive any handmade gifts this year?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Gingham Cottage News--FREE Shipping Code

Happy Boxing Day!

Get FREE shipping in my Etsy Shop today and tomorrow, December 26 and 27 when you use the code FREESHIP1211 at checkout.

Valid for U.S. customers only. Only one coupon code per transaction.

Thanks for looking and shopping handmade!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

More Christmas Stuff With The Kids

 Painting with Christmas Bows--Always a hit with the toddler crowd!
 Christmas Tree Brownies-- This was fun to do with Toddler Girl (20 months) and Big Brother (6 years).  We baked them together in the morning, I cut them into triangle shapes and inserted the candy cane "trunks" during nap time and Big Brother decorated them while my hands were full of babies. We all sampled our treats and then divided them up to share with each family. For ease and to maintain a comfortable level of personal sanity, a brownie mix, tube of green frosting and whatever sprinkles I had on hand were used. A big hit!
These snowman handprint ornaments were gifts to the parents this year. These are not my original idea but I always think they are super cute every time I see them! 

All you need are plain ornaments, white acrylic paint and black and orange fine tip Sharpie markers. Oh, and little hands to print!

Paint hand with white paint. Place ball ornament in hand so that bottom of ornament is in the palm. Press painted hand up against the ornament and remove quickly before fingers wiggle. :-)

Let dry. I found placing them upside down on baby food jars worked great! Draw details on fingers with markers. 

When done, the hand print will look like a snowman family of five standing in the snow. 

FYI-- This is a whole lot easier to do with older kids who can keep their fingers still than babies! Just saying... As you can see from the picture some of the snowmen were rather crowded together which I didn't mind since it shows their personalities and ages! This reindeer ornament would be easier to do with little ones! 

I hope you all are having a fun Christmas week!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Recycled Gift Wrap

 One of the 'batches' of gifts we wrapped this year.

One of my goals for gift wrapping this year was to use recycled items instead of purchasing new wrapping paper as I wrote about here.

We saved paper bags all year-both white and brown- and also reused some colorful tissue paper I'd received in a gift.

Gift tags so far have been old Christmas cards, either used whole or cut up to make smaller tags. I've used bits and pieces of ribbon as well as some yarn and string for tying.

I usually wrap our gifts in 'batches' by families, events or which package I'm mailing. Keeps things organized and helps me to not forget someone! Some batches have turned out prettier than others, based mainly on the time I've had to invest in each one and also the shapes of gifts I'm wrapping! The batch pictured above was my favorite so far, especially the fruit printed bag I kept from a boutique purchase earlier in the year--so cute!

Using recycled gift wrappings is not only a frugal choice but a practical one as well.

And wrapping gifts this way provides a creative outlet that I enjoy!

**Bits of wrapping paper, bows, cards and tissue paper make great collage supplies for the little ones so be sure and save a few things from the trash can during this season of gift-giving! And those picture frame cards can be used for  projects such as this one. **

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Activities for Kids: Nativity Printable

 I was excited to find this printable nativity a few weeks ago and pinned it to do with Big Brother (age 6). This reminded me of  a paper nativity we had when I was little where the figures were punched out  like paper dolls and then folded and attached with little tabs in the backs so they stood up.

I knew Big Brother would like to make this as he enjoys coloring. I enjoyed  being able to use a bunch of toilet paper tubes I'd saved for such an occasion! We worked on this together with Big Brother doing most of the coloring over the course of a few afternoons when he came over after school.

It turned out so very cute and he was so proud to take his nativity home with him today!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sugar High

Andy and I spent last Saturday making some yummy Christmas goodies to enjoy and share. Making Christmas cookies together is a tradition that we enjoy each year. We had thought that perhaps we just wouldn't do any this year or try some "healthier" varieties but in the end we decided to just go ahead and make a few of our favorites as we did want to share some with friends. And eat a few too!

This year we made 4 varieties:
My mom sent us an assortment of her homemade candies plus Baby Boy's grandmother sent over a container of fudge and buckeyes they had made, so we have a lovely variety of cookies and candies for a nice cookie plate!

 My friend Katie sent me a candy cane cookie cutter last year along with some peppermint sprinkles! My husband had the great idea of using leftover white chocolate to frost the candy canes and then sprinkle with the peppermint sprinkles. So yummy!
 My husband makes the pretzels every year. Don't they look wonderful?

 Tip: Bake bars in pans lined with foil. When cool lift out of pan for easier cutting and nicer looking squares!

 What goodies have you made this year? 

**This post is linked up to The Modest Mom's Christmas baking post! 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Merry Swap

It's been fun to once again join in with the Sisters Shoebox Swaps hosted by Monica and Carrie! The theme for this swap was Merry and my swap partner was Kim.

Kim doesn't have a blog but we emailed a bit back and forth in order to get to know each other better! She is a super sweet lady and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know her a little and creating a box for her.

I was blown away by all that Kim packed into my box and the thought and care that went into it!So much fun! She included lots of red which I love!

Packed into a beautiful Christmas box(which you see at the back of this picture) was:

  • Set of 3 red and white kitchen towels.
  • Peppermint tea light candles.
  • Metal Merry Christmas sign.
  • An adorable nativity--love nativities and apparently am starting a small collection!
  • Ghiradelli chocolate bars.
  • Coffee.
  • Candy Cane Lane tea.
  • Mug that says -"This Home Believes" and has a nativity picture.
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer lip balm. How fun is that!?!
  • "Silver Spruce" potpourri sachet.
  • Chris Tomlin CD--Glory In the Highest.
  • Candy cane ornament.
  • Nativity ornaments made of olive wood from the Holy Lands.
 Isn't this a sweet nativity--look at those cute faces!

The Merry Christmas sign.

What I sent to Kim:
  • Christmas garland--printed from here.
  • A compilation of some of our favorite Christmas tunes.
  • Cozy Christmas socks.
  • Bag of treats for her dogs Chip and Mattie from our dog Rock.
  • Handmade little stocking filled with candy. I looked at these directions for basic how-to's but drew my own pattern and made it quite small.
  • Hot cocoa mix.--Just combined the dry ingredients and included instructions.
  • Handmade felt ornaments like these
  • Apple cinnamon candle. 
  • Merry Christmas tin(which I packed the cocoa mix in). 
**Go to Carrie's blog for more Merry swap show and tell!

    Monday, December 12, 2011

    Menu Plan Monday--The "I Really Need To Get Groceries" Edition

    I made Pumpkin Curry Soup last week for the first time! Wasn't sure what to expect but it seemed interesting! And since we don't eat many baked goods anymore, I've been wanting some other ways to eat pumpkin. This recipe was very very good. Quite mild tasting actually. I cooked up a pumpkin we had used for decoration throughout the fall and used some of the homemade pumpkin puree for this soup. I didn't add carrots but made the recipe as stated otherwise. Because of no carrots and not-so-orange pumpkin puree, this soup wasn't as vibrant as I expected. Instead, it was kind of a yellow color. But it was yummy and comforting, none the less. A plus--I really liked the smooth texture after running it through the food processor.

    **For weight loss and general health, we eat a diet low in grains but higher in protein, healthy fats, vegetables and fruit.  For the most part, we avoid wheat, corn, refined sugar, starchy vegetables such as corn and potatoes and most processed foods. It is a work in progress--our diet isn't always perfect and we are far from eating all organic but we have both lost a good bit of weight since changing to eating this way and we feel great! And for the record, we do eat a lot of brown rice and eggs!**

    I didn't get to the grocery store this past weekend and it looks like it will be later this week before we get there this week. So I'm doing as much as I can with what we have in the pantry, fridge and freezer. We have enough food, just not as much variety as usual and running low on a few staple items. I think we'll live!

    We would like to make some Christmas goodies this weekend using some of our favorite recipes. They won't be completely healthy but it is the holiday season and we'll just make probably 3 different things!

    **hard-boiled eggs, chicken
    **scrambled eggs, chicken
    **scrambled eggs (3x)
    **scrambled eggs, bacon (2x)

    **Regular potluck lunch with church fellowship-- applesauce and broccoli/cauliflower blend
    **Rice noodles with tuna
    **Leftovers (4x)
    **Whatever's left!

    **yogurt with apple butter
    **yogurt and kiwi
    **orange, kiwi, almonds
    **hard-boiled eggs
    **applesauce (2x)

    **Snacks for church meeting--took some mixed nuts.
    **Chicken gravy on rice, variety of bits of leftover veggies--green beans, limas and turnip greens.
    **Roast chicken, roasted butternut squash, mashed cauliflower
    **Chicken Rice Soup(new recipe)
    **Stir fry(bag of stir fry veggies!),with a chopped chicken breast and rice. 
    **Crustless Quiche, tomato soup from a can--Didn't use this meal from last week's plan.
    **Meeting: TBD

    **This post is part of Menu Plan Monday!

    Friday, December 09, 2011

    Christmas Gift Idea for Military Members and Veterans

    As my husband mentioned in this post a few years ago, he works with a great company called Products For Good. They offer a unique line of military themed products featuring decommissioned Iraqi coins, like the one pictured above. If you visit the website, please take the time to read the amazing story behind the company. Having been with them over three years now, his business has begun to expand. This expansion is both personally gratifying and seeks to provide greater financial capabilities for our family.
    A large part of that expansion is a Facebook Page dedicated to his business. What you'll mainly find there are stories of military interest and ways to support our troops. But, one very special aspect of the Facebook Page is the ability to shop online. The items available there would make GREAT gifts for the military member or veteran in your life. So if you have a family member like my Father-In-Law, who is a Vietnam Veteran and is rather difficult to shop for, take a moment to like the page. Then outsmart the crowds and shop from the comfort of your couch, or at least your CEO style office chair. And let him know that you came because of his wonderful, beautiful, selfless wife, who graciously donated her blog space for the sake of this post.

    Toddler Activity: Christmas Tree Magnets

    I saw this activity in the toddler activity Bible The Toddler's Busy Book and thought it would be great thing to make since baby food jars and lids are one thing I have in abundance!

    • Lids from baby food jars--at least 10. 
    • Felt--green, brown (for trunk), yellow (for star at top), other colors can be used too if you'd like to make 'balls' for the tree.
    • Tacky glue or hot glue gun.
    • Magnet strips. 
    • Scissors.
    To make: 
    • Make circles by tracing the lid onto felt. Cut out.
    • Glue felt circles into lids.
    • Let dry.
    • Attach magnet strips to backs with glue.
    • Let dry.
    • Give to eager toddler and watch her have a great time with the magnets!
    This obviously is great for the front of the refrigerator but would also make a good table activity when used with a cookie sheet. 

    Due to sickness, Toddler Girl has not yet tried out this activity but I'm pretty sure she will like it very much! I think Big Brother (age 6) will like it too. Because an older child will enjoy making different patterns and shapes, I plan to make more of these in green and other colors for more possibilities for him.

    A simple, fun and cheap activity for that busy little toddler!

    Would You Like To Win One Of My Aprons?

    My sweet blog friend Katie is hosting an apron giveaway! Visit her blog to get the details on how to enter and also get a coupon code for my Etsy shop!

    Wednesday, December 07, 2011

    Indoor Clothes Drying

    Our clothes dryer has been on the fritz for most of a month now. Got the first issue fixed, dried about 5 loads of laundry and then the next time I went to use the dryer, something else wasn't working.

    Well. Our dryer isn't new; probably more like 20 years old. It was a hand-me-down from Andy's parents when he was still a bachelor and has been a faithful servant! But we would like to get a few more years use out of it if possible!

    So for the time being we are line drying all of our laundry.  Our outdoor clothesline broke when moving last year so we are needing to dry everything inside. Perhaps we will rig up some outdoor lines if this continues. Thankfully, we own three folding drying racks since I was already line drying some of our laundry.

    I've learned a few tips about drying clothes indoors during the winter. Some of these things I've done for a while anyways and others are new.
    • Hanging clothes can be hung on the shower rod. Pajamas, shirts and pants can be dried this way. Hanging larger items here frees up more space on the drying racks for the smaller stuff and towels. If items are hung early enough in the day, most things will be dry by morning shower time. Smaller things such as socks and underwear can be hung on skirt/pants hangers if needed. I like this because the clothes are out of the way.
    • Curtain rods can also be used for hanging clothes.
    • Use fans in front of racks. Especially for towels and heavier items. My biggest concern is that the towels will not dry fast enough and get smelly. The racks also take up a bit of space and I'm in a hurry to fold them back up out of the way!
    • Position racks over vents. Warm or cool air will help speed up the drying process. 
    • Rotate items on racks for even drying.  Sometimes the front items or one side of the jeans are dry but the rest still wet! Turn things around if needed.
    • Adding white vinegar to the towels helps to soften them a bit. Not a lot but a bit.:-) Also shaking them out before hanging seems to help.
    • Wear clothing several times before washing if possible. This helps cut down on the laundry to hang. We shower every day and use deodorant so if not stained, most outfits can be worn 2 times.
    • Stagger loads of laundry. Don't do everything in one day. I will do sheets on a day by themselves and drape them over the racks. Towels always take up 2 racks so I wash them by themselves or when I don't have as many clothes.
    • Wash only what needs to be washed. I'm not washing heavy pieces of bedding right now unless it really needs it! And in the case of blankets and such, I'd probably break down and go to the laundromat.
    • Swallow pride. I really dislike visitors seeing our laundry drying in the house. But I have people in and out of my house almost every day. So I put it out of the way if possible (for space  reasons more than pride) and if not or if they use the bathroom during their visit, well, I just try to keep the unmentionables behind the bigger garments!
    • Smile knowing you're doing something good for the environment!
    What line drying tips do you have to share? 

      Tuesday, December 06, 2011

      Menu Plan Monday and Little Smokies Recipe

      Yes, I know it isn't Monday anymore!:-)

      The Cheesy Chicken and Rice recipe we tried last week turned out really good. I did change it some to utilize what I had on hand-- shocker, I know! For starters, I had 1 cup of chicken instead of 2 and 2-3 cups of cooked brown rice instead of 1. So I threw all that in a bowl. Only had about a tablespoon of salsa left in the jar so poured that in and added about a cup or two of leftover canned tomatoes I had in the fridge plus some homemade taco/fajita seasoning I use. I didn't have any canned beans in the house  and besides we eat mostly lentils and not many other beans on this diet--and I really wasn't into adding lentils so just skipped beans altogether. It was delicious. I highly recommend this recipe--obviously it's hard to mess up! And no cream soups which I have tried hard to avoid for a number of years now.

      **For weight loss and general health, we eat a diet low in grains but higher in protein, healthy fats, vegetables and fruit.  For the most part, we avoid wheat, corn, refined sugar and most processed foods. It is a work in progress--our diet isn't always perfect and we are far from eating all organic but we have both lost a good bit of weight since changing to eating this way and we feel great! And for the record, we do eat a lot of brown rice and eggs!**

      **Egg and cheese muffins--will share the recipe soon!
      **Scrambled eggs (2x)
      **Scrambled eggs, turkey sausage (2x)
      **Scrambled eggs with cheese
      **Eggs in bacon rings--will share this recipe soon too!

      **Weekly fellowship potluck-- we took green beans and bacon in the little crockpot and some deviled eggs. While grocery shopping on Saturday morning, I came across some organic eggs marked down to 69 cents a dozen!!!
      **Leftover Little Smokies, celery sticks stuffed with some leftover deviled egg filling.
      **Leftover pumpkin soup, hard-boiled eggs, cheese, some bits of leftover meat.
      **Tuna salad, celery sticks, hard-boiled eggs.
      **Leftover beef vegetable soup.
      **Leftover chicken and rice casserole.
      **Leftovers --whatever's left.

      **Bananas, peanut butter
      **Yogurt (2x)
      **Whatever's left!

      **Snacks for meeting-- Apple-Barbecue Little Smokies--recipe below!
      **Pumpkin Curry Soup(new recipe), turkey
      **Israeli spice chicken, sweet potatoes, green beans
      **Beef vegetable soup
      **Creamy Chicken and Rice Casserole--using sour cream instead of cream since that's what I have!
      **Monterrey lentils, rice
      **Crustless quiche (probably spinach), tomato soup(from a can)

      Apple Barbecue Little Smokies

      Ok, so Little Smokies , cocktail weiners, baby sausages or whatever you call them are probably not in the healthy eating category! But we do enjoy them on occasion and they are fun to make and take this time of year. And super easy! All things in moderation.:-)

      1 pound package Little Smokies
      1 cup applesauce or apple butter-- I use homemade so very low sugar or no sugar at all if using applesauce.
      1 cup BBQ sauce--BBQ sauce is a high sugar item. I don't stress about eating or serving it on occasion. We only buy sauce with no high fructose corn syrup if I don't make my own. We like Bulls Eye by Kraft Foods(often on sale which is a plus!) or a store brand from our local heath food store.

      Mix applesauce and BBQ sauce in bottom of greased 1-2 quart crockpot. Add sausages and stir together. Cook on low for about 3 hours or on high for 1 hour. Turn to warm to serve.

      What's cooking at your house this week?

      **This post is part of Menu Plan Monday!

      Wednesday, November 30, 2011

      The ABC's Of Thanks: W, X, Y, Z

      • Word of God
      • Wednesdays-- sometimes a half or whole day off!
      • Work
      • Windows that open--our last house's windows did not.
      • Warm house when it's cold.
      • Wiggly kidlets.
      • Water
      • Waffles-- Andy's mom makes the yummiest fluffy waffles!
      • Wonderful family-- Both biological and church families!

      • X-rays-- When we need them.
      • X-acto knife for crafting.
      • My mom whose name begins with 'Y'.
      • Yogurt.
      • Yams or sweet potatoes.
      • Yarn--although my knitting and crocheting skills leave much to be desired.
      • You! --So grateful that you continue to choose to come back and read my writings!
      • Zippers.
      • Zoos--fun to visit.
      • Zucchini
      • Zephers
      • Zinnias
      • Zinc--boosts the immune system.
      • Zero mice in my home.
      • And just for fun--Zero elephants in my pocket!
      • Zest for life. 
      • Zeal for God.
      • Zzzzzzzz-- a good night's sleep!
      Whew!!! I made it all the way through the alphabet. So much to be thankful for!

      I'd love to hear your W, X, Y and Z's if you care to share!

      Tuesday, November 29, 2011

      The ABC's Of Thanks: T,U,V

      • Thankful for Thanksgiving!
      • Turkey--lots of it!
      • Trials--this is a hard one for me to write. But looking back I can see how these times have built Godly character and continue to draw me closer to Jesus Christ. May it always be so!
      • Toddlers
      • Thrift stores
      • Toys
      • Tidying up after toddlers and toys!
      • Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan movies-- especially Sleepless in Seattle and You've Got Mail. Love those movies!

      • Umbrellas--when it rains!
      • Uncles
      • Underwear (clean)
      • Umbrella strollers
      • Unfailing love of God

      • Voting--it's a priviledge.
      • Violet-- a pretty color.
      • Vacations--occasionally.
      • Vet-- We love our new vet!
      • Veterans
      • Vegetables
      • Vintage items

      Monday, November 28, 2011

      The ABC's Of Thanks: 'R' and 'S'

      So let's try to finish up our "ABC's Of Thanks" before the  end of November, shall we?

      • Riches in Christ Jesus.
      • Rhubarb.
      • My mother-in-law whose name begins with R!
      • Repurposing items.
      • Renting.
      • Rite Aid--I get lots of good deals there!
      • Reruns of classic television.
      • Redskins--We're thankful they actually won a game yesterday!:-)
      • Rice.
      • Reading books to kidlets.
      • Reading.
      • Red--one of my favorite colors!
      • Righteous--what I have been made because of Jesus!
      • Savior
      • Selling things.
      • My brother in law, Shawn.
      • Sleeping in or just sleeping in general!
      • Sales!
      • Soap.
      • Shampoo.
      • Sewing. 
      • Storage space.
      • Small house--it's cozy sometimes but a roof over our heads!
      • Snow days--few and far between.
      • Susie--my husband's great aunt.
      • Squash-yummy! 
      • Simplicity.
      • Simple things.
      What are you thankful for?

      Menu Plan Monday-- Frugal Low-Grain Meals

      I've been working on keeping meals extra simple lately. It just seems to work better for this season of life! Since this is the end of the month, I'm trying to use up odds and ends we already have on hand before I go grocery shopping sometime this weekend.

      **For weight loss and general health, we eat a diet low in grains but higher in protein, healthy fats, vegetables and fruit.  For the most part, we avoid wheat, corn, refined sugar and most processed foods. It is a work in progress--our diet isn't always perfect and we are far from eating all organic but we have both lost a good bit of weight since changing to eating this way and we feel great! And for the record, we do eat a lot of brown rice and eggs!**

      What we're eating this week:

      **scrambled eggs, turkey sausage links (2x)
      **scrambled eggs (2x)
      **scrambled eggs, bacon (2x)
      **hard-boiled eggs, cheese (1x)

      **eat out
      **celery with cream cheese, eggs, cheese, almonds
      **vegetable soup (freezer)
      **celery with tuna salad
      **garlic butter rice pasta, veggie
      **whatever is left!

      **clementines, almonds
      **yogurt smoothies
      **bananas with peanut butter
      **whatever is left!

      **Snacks for meeting: cookies(Thanksgiving leftovers), nuts
      **Rotisserie-style crockpot chicken, sweet potatoes, broccoli/cauliflower mix
      **Chicken gravy on rice ( Using chicken and broth from the Rotisserie-style chicken--this makes the BEST gravy!) , veggies
      **Southwestern lentils
      **Meeting: TBD
      **Stir-fry using a bag of frozen stir-fry veggies with shrimp and rice
      **Cheesy chicken and rice casserole (new recipe--looks really yummy!), salad or veggie

      **This post is part of Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday!

      Crayon Roll Closeout!

      Through tomorrow November 29, all crayon rolls are marked down to $5.00 in my Etsy shop. These come complete with crayons and make wonderful stocking stuffers!

      Thanks for looking!

      **Through the end of the year, proceeds from all of my Etsy shop sales go towards a mission project in India providing wells for villages and rescuing girls in sexual slavery through E.A.R.E. ministries.

      Thursday, November 17, 2011

      The ABC's Of Thanks: 'Q'

      So 'Q' promises to be a bit more difficult but I've already thought of a few things!
      • Quiet--in my heart, first thing in the morning, at naptime, after the storm,etc.
      • Quiche.
      • Quilts.
      • Quick cleaning jobs.
      • Quick meals.
      • Quitting for the day.
      • Quaint, old-fashioned things.
      • Quantity of food--especially the 11 meal-size portions in the freezer from the turkey baked yesterday given to us by someone who got it free at the grocery store and wouldn't be able to use it!
      • Quarterbacks--some days.
      • Quartet music.
      • Quarters--great for spending at yard sales!
      • Quotes--" God does not call the qualified; He qualifies the called!"
      • Quips.
      • Quenched thirst. 
      • Quality kitchen tools
      What are you thankful for?

      Wednesday, November 16, 2011

      The ABC's Of Thanks: 'P'

      Today, I'm thankful for:
      • Parents
      • Pears
      • Pineapple
      • Pinterest-- Follow me there if you wish!
      • Paint- Made a huge difference in our current home!
      • Pie!
      • Pumpkin Pie
      • Paved driveway
      • Purple--One of my favorite colors.
      • Pacifiers-- For the baby, of course! A little thing but it sure can help!
      • Pack and plays-- Great places for the littles to rest!
      • Pans--To cook with.
      • Poppie--What we call my husband's grandfather.
      • Payday!
      • Pantry--First time I've ever had one!
      • Pacific Ocean-- Grew up about a 2 hour drive from the coast so have lots of fond memories there! So beautiful!
      • Paper
      • Patience-- From God and other people.
      • Parks
      • Pansies
      • Peonies
      • Parades--I always enjoy a good parade.
      • Parties
      • Pastor
      • Pawn Stars--A TV show that we enjoy.
      • Patterns
      • Peace from knowing God is in control.
      • Pickles!
      What 'P' words are you thankful for today!

      Tuesday, November 15, 2011

      The ABC's Of Thanks: 'O'

      Today's letter is 'O'!

      I'm thankful for:
      • Olives--One of our favorites!
      • October.
      • Old-fashioned living.
      • Omelet.
      • Omnipotent God.
      • Omnipresent God.
      • Omniscient God.
      • Onion rings--I will always choose these over fries!
      • Oranges.
      • Orchids.
      • Orchards.
      • Oxygen--What we need to breathe.
      What would you add? 

      Monday, November 14, 2011

      A Peek At Our OCC Shoeboxes

      This week (November 14-21, 2011) is Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child's shoebox projects. In this video or vlog, as they say, I share what we put into our boxes this year. My hope is that this will encourage more people to participate in this worthwhile project and maybe give some ideas of what kinds of things to put into your box(es)!

      Related posts:

      How To Pack A Shoebox by mary bailey. Cute!
      Operation Christmas Child--Meryl's Story by Passionate Homemaking. This is super awesome!

      Find out all the details at the Operation Christmas Child website!

      The ABC's Of Thanks: 'N'

      Already to' N'! This month is flying by!

      I'm thankful for:
      • My brother Nathan.
      • Nieces and nephews.
      • Naps--Although they seldom occur these days!
      • Nativity.
      • Our Nation.
      • Nearness of God to us, His children!
      • Nature.
      • Natural living.
      • Necessities-- We have everything we need!
      • Necklaces--Jewelry is pretty!
      • Nectarines.
      • Need for God.
      • Needles--when sewing.
      • Neighbors.
      • Our cozy little Nest!
      • Newborns--So sweet!
      • Night--Time to rest.
      • Noodles!
      • November!
      • Nuts.
      • Good Nutrition.
      What would you add to this list? 

      Sunday, November 13, 2011

      The ABC's Of Thanks: 'M'

      I'm thankful for:
      • Myself! haha
      • m&m's
      • Milk
      • My blog friend, Monica!
      • Mom
      • Mother-in-law
      • Magenta--Love to wear purplish-pinkish colors.
      • Maps--So we know where we're going.
      • Marriage.
      • Mason jars!
      • Meals.
      • Mattress-nicer to sleep on than the hard floor!
      • Medicine--If we are sick.
      • Memory.
      • Melons of all kinds--Yummy!
      • Memorial Day--thankful for those who died for our freedom.
      • A Merry heart!
      • Milkshakes.
      • Moon.
      What 'M' words are you thankful for today? 

      Saturday, November 12, 2011

      The ABC's Of Thanks: 'L'

      What I'm thankful for that starts with 'L':
      • The Lord. 
      • Love.
      • God's Lovingkindness
      • Leila, my niece.
      • Life.
      • Laughter.
      • Lentils.
      • Living room.
      • Little ones.
      • Little house--not so much to clean!
      • Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder--Love the books but haven't yet watched much of the TV show yet but would like to!
      • Lilacs.
      • Lavender.
      • Lilies.
      • Lovey-- Toddler Girl's special, well, lovey! Makes naptime much smoother.
      • 'Likes' on Facebook.
      • Lettuce.
      What 'L' blessings are you thankful for? 

      The ABC's Of Thanks: 'K'

      Here's 'K'... a day late...'k? :-)

      I sat down to do this post last night and woke up this morning realizing that I had not written it. How's that for sidetracked?

      I'm thankful for:
      • My sister Kathryn.
      • My nephew Knox.
      • My blog friend Katie. She is super sweet!
      • Kidlets--What I call the young ones who spend their days with me!
      • Kingdom of God.
      • Kindness of God.
      • Kidneys--Thankful they work well!
      • Kitchen--Because I love to cook!
      • Kinfolk--Why yes, I am reading through the dictionary!
      • Kiwi-fruit.
      • Kittens--They are cute when small. Not really a cat person although they are useful for some things!
      • Kisses.
      • Knives--When I need to chop food.
      • Knowledge that I've acquired through the years.
      • Krispy Kreme--especially like the cruller!
      • A Knowing God.
      Now it's your turn! What are you thankful for that begins with 'K'? 

      Thursday, November 10, 2011

      The ABC's Of Thanks: 'J'

      Let's see. What am I thankful for today that begins with 'J'?
      • Joy of the Lord
      • July--my birthday month!
      • Jabbering of the littles--so sweet to hear.
      • January--a fresh start each year.
      • Jeans--comfy to wear!
      • Jehovah Jireh--my Provider.
      • Jehovah Rapha--my Healer.
      • Jesus--my Savior.
      • Justine--my friend.
      • Jump rope--I always loved jumping rope as a kid. My dad tells about the time when I was pretty young (and very shy!) and at the hardware store with him. Looking at spools and spools of rope, I whispered to him, "I'd really like a jump rope!" He bought two lengths for me that day--a regular  and one long enough for several friends to jump at once. He knotted and burned the ends so they wouldn't fray. Those were the best jump ropes--they lasted for years! In fact, my parents may still have them.
      • John Beck--Redskins quarterback; this was my husband's idea! LOL!!
      • Jelly beans.
      • Just being at home!
      What are you thankful for that starts with 'J'?

      Wednesday, November 09, 2011

      The ABC's of Thanks: 'I'

      I spy with my little eye... things I'm thankful for that start with 'I'.

      Hmmm... this might be a bit more difficult!

      • Ice cream
      • Instructions from God in His word.
      • Icicles- so pretty!
       Icicles hanging from our house during last winter's snow.
      • Inchworm in the form of Baby Boy as he 'army crawls' from room to room.
      • Ideas from Pinterest and other bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest if you're so inclined!
      • Ideas that God gives me that enable me to more creatively stretch our budget.
      • Identity in Christ.
      • Immovable God.
      • Imperfections that force reliance on a perfect Savior.
      • Irises, especially purple ones.
      The letter 'I'. What are you thankful for? 

      Making Yogurt In The Crockpot

      Yogurt is easy to make in the crockpot! I follow these instructions from A Year Of Slow Cooking and have found it to work great.

      When I first started making yogurt, I used a small yogurt maker that I picked up at Goodwill. It worked ok and made 1 quart at a time. But when I discovered that yogurt could be made in the crockpot I was eager to try it! Not only would I be able to make more at a time but it would eliminate the need for the yogurt maker and instead be made in the crockpot which can be used for lots of different recipes.

      While yogurt making in the crockpot is super easy, you do want to plan to make it on a day when you're going to be mostly at home. And I find that setting the timer helps me to not forget about it!

      1. Pour a half-gallon of milk into crockpot. Put lid on and turn to low. Let cook for 2 1/2 hours. (Or until just below boiling.)
      2. Turn crockpot off and unplug. Let set for 3 hours. 
      3. After about 3 hours the milk will have cooled down to about 110-120 degrees. Sometimes it takes a bit longer; I set the timer for a few more minutes and come back and check the temperature. I don't usually use the thermometer; I just test it with my finger. If it's too hot, it will kill the cultures in the yogurt starter you're about to add. Too cold and it won't work either. I guess a good way to explain it is that it should be just a bit warmer than lukewarm. I've done it both a  bit hotter and a bit cooler and it has worked so not too scary! If in doubt, use a thermometer until you get a feel for it!
      4. When milk is right temp., scoop out a cup or two of warmish milk into a bowl. Whisk 1/2 cup of plain yogurt into milk. Any plain yogurt will work as long as it contains live active cultures. Stonyfield Farms organic plain yogurt is one of my favorites to use.
      5. Pour milk/yogurt mixture into crockpot and mix gently to combine the yogurt.
      6. Keeping crockpot unplugged, wrap with towels to cover and keep it warm. Let set to culture in a non-drafty place for 8-10 hours or overnight. I place mine in the bay window which is a nice sunny spot in my house! At the end of culturing, the milk should have thickened to make yogurt. Place crockpot in refrigerator to help it to thicken up a bit more.
      7. Eat!
      • Homemade yogurt will not be as thick as store-bought.
      • For a thicker Greek-style yogurt, line a strainer with cheesecloth or tea towel. Pour yogurt in and let whey (the liquidy stuff) drain off, leaving a thicker yogurt. Draining longer will result in a kind of yogurt cheese,similar to cream cheese, which I think is delicious with crackers or celery!
      • Pureed fruit or jam can be mixed into yogurt. We like to keep it plain and add fruit or honey right before eating.
      • The longer it cultures, the tarter the yogurt!
      • Save a half-cup of yogurt to add to your next batch. I like to drain it some before adding so it's a little thicker. 
      • For more information and pictures, go here
      • Previous posts I've written about making yogurt--Homemade Yogurt, Yogurt In The Crockpot, Steps We've Taken To A Healthier Diet.
      Happy yogurt making!

      If you have any questions, I will try to answer them.

      Tuesday, November 08, 2011

      The ABC's Of Thanks: 'H'

      Today, we think about blessings that begin with 'H'!

      • My dad, whose name starts with 'H'.
      • Helpful Husband who went grocery shopping at Aldi's for me today!
      • Healing-- We have both received physical and spiritual healing this year. So thankful!
      • Ham--yum!
      • Hope--God's hope that does not disappoint!
      • Home
      • Heaven
      • Health
      • Hymns--While I enjoy all kinds of Christian music, I love the old hymns, especially instrumentals.
      • Hobby Lobby--Love this store!
      What words that begin with 'H' come to your mind? 

      Monday, November 07, 2011

      The ABC's Of Thanks: 'F' and 'G'

      What I'm thankful for that start with 'F':

      • Faithfulness (God's)
      • Forgiveness
      • Freedom in Christ
      • Fruit
      • Friends
      • Family
      • Fried mushrooms--yummy, yum!

      What I'm thankful for that start with 'G':
      • God
      • God's grace
      • Groceries
      • Baby Boy whose name starts with 'G'--He is so sweet!
      • God's goodness
      • Growth (spiritual)
      'F' and 'G'. What are you thankful for today? 

      Saturday, November 05, 2011

      The ABC's of Thanks: 'D' and 'E'

      Didn't get my post up yesterday so am doubling up tonight with two letters! I don't know how many I'll come up with here but I'll give it my best shot! Feel free to chime in with your comments.

      The letter 'D':
      • Our dads
      • Dogs-- I would have never imagined that I would become a dog lover. Up until we got our dog 4 years ago, I was very scared of dogs and didn't like them one bit! Now I enjoy them so much. Miracles never cease!
      • Doughnuts-- I have a very weird sense of humor; those who know me in real life will totally get this. The other day I came up with a "new joke". My husband always groans when I announce this!:-) Anyways, I thought it was pretty funny: "Donut let your heart be troubled!" Anyhoo...
      • Doctors
      • Dentists--Actually I really am NOT that fond of dentists but they do serve their purpose and I'm thankful for that! Maybe I would like them more if I went more often. Hahahaha
      • Dear friends who are like family!
      • Dark chocolate.

      The letter 'E':
      • Eggs-- We eat  a lot of them these days!
      • Extra income this week--God is so faithful!
      • Extra hour of sleep tonight!
      • My Etsy shop.
      • Ebay.
      • Extravagant love of God.

      Hmmm...I think I need to come back to these when I'm not so tired! What blessings can you think of that start with 'D' and/or 'E'?

      Thursday, November 03, 2011

      The ABC's Of Thanks--'C'

      Continuing on through the alphabet...

      Today I'll focus on words that start with 'C'. 

      I'm thankful for...

      • The C. Family--My husband's and now my family as well!
      • Chicken--Yummy to eat!
      • Candles
      • Chocolate
      • Crockpots--Use them almost every day!
       My crockpots at work. Today, making yogurt and apple butter!
      • Our niece whose name starts with 'C'.
      • Camera
      • Christ's compassion
      • Cooler weather
      • Cheese
      • Cozy home!
      • Cherished Dog
      • Cookies
       Sugar cookies from last Christmas!

      What 'C' blessings are you thankful for today?

      Wednesday, November 02, 2011

      The ABC's of Thanks: 'B'

      What I'm thankful for that starts with 'B':

      • My family-- the B***** family.
      • Babies
      • Broccoli--It's good for us!!!
      • Bible
      • Books
      • Blogging/blogs
      • Bargains-- Thanking God for the deals He provided on eggs, cheese and bananas this morning!
      • Berries--Yum!
      • Butter--It's yummy and I'm thankful that organic butter's a recommended good fat so we eat it with no regrets!!!
      • Beauty all around us that God created.
      • Black dog.:-)
      • Budgets--They help us stay on track!
      • Blessings--Way too many to count!
      • Becky--My wonderful sister-in-law!
      • Brownies
      • Blizzards-- Love the Pumpkin Pie Blizzard this time of year!
      • Bacon--Everything tastes better with bacon!
      What are you thankful for today that starts with the letter 'B'?

        Tuesday, November 01, 2011

        The ABC's Of Thanks-- 'A'

        This month I'll be going through the alphabet and giving thanks for those things and blessings that start with each letter!

        Today for the letter 'A', I'm thankful for:

        • Andy- my husband!
        • A*****aka Toddler Girl-what a blessing and delight she is to her family and to us. 
        • A*****aka Big Brother- he genuinely loves the babies which is so sweet to see and keeps us on our toes!
        • Apples- So delicious this time of year and made into applesauce and apple butter, a wonderful treat for the rest of the year.
         Applesauce from a recent canning day!
        I'll update this post if I think of any more 'A' blessings!

        **Now it's your turn! I'd love to hear what 'A' things you're thankful for. Either leave a comment on this post or if you'd like to blog about it, come back and leave a link to your post in the comment section!

          Wednesday, October 26, 2011

          A Cozy Fall Dinner

          Now that fall is here and the days are a bit cooler, I'm enjoying using the oven more and serving more comforting baked meals!

          We had this cozy baked meal of Israeli Spice Chicken and Roasted Butternut Squash and Kale one night last week. It was delicious!

          For the chicken, I rubbed the Israeli Spice blend on some drumsticks and baked them alongside the squash.

          Roasted Butternut Squash and Kale
          Adapted from Taste of Home

          4 cups cubed peeled butternut squash
          1 medium onion, chopped
          3 Tbsp. olive oil
          1/4 tsp.crushed red pepper flakes
          1/2 teaspoon dried sage
          2 cups chopped kale
          1/2 tsp. salt
          1/2 tsp. pepper

          Combine squash and onion in a  15 x 10x 1 baking pan coated with pan spray. Combine oil, pepper flakes, salt, pepper and sage; drizzle over vegetables and toss to coat.

          Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add kale and bake for about 5 more minutes or until done.

          We really liked this dish. Andy thought it tasted like stuffing. It would make a nice addition to Thanksgiving dinner!

          Fabric Pumpkins

          I've been wanting to do a little crafting so today I made a little time to sit down and make these cute little fabric pumpkins!

          I chose a brown/tan/cream theme instead of the traditional orange since I didn't have any in my stash. Also left off the leaves since I thought mine looked better without.

          This was an easy and quick craft and would be great to do with older children!

          And if you have lots of scraps to use up, these Scrappy Pumpkins are cute too!

          Tuesday, October 25, 2011

          $4 Off Vick's Nature Fusion

          Head on over to Vocalpoint and reserve your $4 Vick's Nature Fusion coupon! You will receive this coupon by mail.

          This is a high dollar coupon that should make for a really good deal combined with a sale!

          Monday, October 24, 2011

          Vietnam Veterans Reunion Banquet

          When Andy's parents were here a few weekends ago, they attended Andy's dad's Vietnam reunion which was held in Charlotte this year.

          Because we live so close, they invited us to join them for the banquet on Saturday night. As a family, we were honored to perform the Missing Man Table Ceremony remembering those who were either prisoners of war, missing or killed in action as well as members of the association who have passed on since the last reunion. The men did the narration and my mother-in-law and I set the table as they read. You can view something similar here.

          It was quite an honor!