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?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Pinterest Try: Homemade Dog Treats

Recently, I tried a recipe for peanut butter dog treats that I had pinned on Pinterest. These were super easy and called for just a few regular pantry ingredients.

I tweaked the recipe slightly for better dough consistency but can't remember now what I did. I'll take notes next time and then update this post. It was either more flour or more water. ;-)

I keep the treats in a freezer container and thaw a handful every so often. When thawed, I put them in the "doggy treat" jar. I don't want them to mold before we can use them! So far I've had good success with the treats staying fresh in the jar for up to about 10 days. None have molded yet.

Rock loves these treats and they are so simple to make!

Homemade Peanut Butter Dog Treats from Life Your Way

  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon powdered milk
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 3-4 tablespoons water
Combine peanut butter, egg, salt, powdered milk and flour. Add water one tablespoon at a time until you have a doughy texture. It should be easy to form but not sticky.
Roll out dough to 1/4″ thickness and cut out with a cookie cutter. Re-roll scraps and repeat.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through.


Thursday, July 09, 2015

Summer Happenings

This summer started off with a bang!

Since I posted last, we have had several sets of overnight visitors, had a huge adoption fundraiser yard sale and we just arrived home from a week long trip to Oregon to visit my family.

While in Oregon, we enjoyed a Eugene Emeralds baseball game. 
I hope to slow some at this point, being mindful in accomplishing some home things that need attention and enjoy the rest of the summer.

In adoption news, our first home study visit is scheduled at the end of this month. If you would like to more closely follow our adoption journey, we invite you to visit our blog, Shepherd's Little Lamb. We try to post there at least monthly to keep everyone updated on the process. The blog is a great way to learn about current fundraisers that we are doing as well. In a nutshell, our last name means 'shepherd' so Shepherd's Little Lamb seemed to be a fitting blog name. (And many of the other names we thought of were already taken or too difficult to spell.)

Hopefully, I'll be back to blogging a little more regularly. My goal is to post twice a week through the summer.

How is your summer going? 

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Use What You Have Zipper Pouches

I had this rather large piece of vintage-y quilted fabric in my stash. It came in a bargain bag of scraps from a yard sale a few years ago. 

Anyways, I've been trying to make use of what I have instead of buying more. Partly to save money but mostly because it means less to move around when my sewing room becomes a nursery. 

This fabric was already sewn into something and taken apart so this is not it's first party. Ha! It's a little worn in spots but perfect for these zipper pouches. 

I often need some pouches for storing items when traveling. I made one large enough to carry my hair straightener and then the second one ended up a little smaller because of the size of the fabric. 

I had some red gingham ruffle in my scrap bucket pile. I think it was given to me in a box of fabric?? 

Anyways, I liked it with the sweet strawberry fabric so I sewed some ruffles on the pouches. 

Even the zippers were repurposed from some old lingerie bags!!! 

So yay for a quick evening project that cost nothing to make but is cute and super useful! 
 I still have some small pieces of this fabric left--will have to see what I can make with them!

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Frugal Five

Remember when I did regular Frugal Five posts?

Well, I've still been frugal but just not posting about it. I'd like for that to change!

I enjoy reading about how other homemakers are practicing frugality and resourcefully stretching their dollars. Those posts are always inspiring and encouraging to me--that is how I hope these Frugal Five posts come across to you as well.

In my last post, I told how my husband and I are embarking on the journey of domestic adoption. (Thank you for all your well wishes and prayers! We appreciate each one!) Adoption is quite expensive so we are all about saving as much as we can right now! Every penny saved goes to our adoption fund.

Some recent ways we have saved money:
  1. Our medical coverage doesn't cover prescriptions. I have a prescription that cost $75 per 30 day supply at CVS and that was for the generic brand. (My doctor gave me samples of another that would've been $200 per month so I considered this the better option!) However, $75!!! Ouch! I decided to check at Sam's Club that is right by our house. They offer the very same item for $11.87. I was shocked! I was expecting maybe a $20 savings. So obviously, we are getting prescriptions filled at Sam's now. I have another prescription that I only use as needed so one box lasts about 6 months. This one was only around $17 so not too expensive but Sam's offers it for $4. So we are saving a lot of money right there!
  2. We don't eat out often but we've been using coupons when we do. 2 meals for the price of one?Yes, please!
  3. Speaking of eating out, I've been buying the $5.99 fresh pizzas from Aldi to have on hand when I know we will have a super busy day and it would be tempting to go to a restaurant. These freeze really nice and are very good.
  4. Made beef broth using some bones I had in the freezer. 
  5. Rock got out of the fenced backyard twice last week. One time he showed up in the driveway on the other side of the gate and waited to be let back in. LOL We finally discovered a hole in the fence by the woods. We "rednecked" it back together by attaching a random piece of fencing that was left here by the previous owner. He won't be getting out through that hole anytime soon!
How are you saving money and practicing frugality in your home?

Friday, April 24, 2015

We Have A Secret To Share

I have a secret to share with you all today. Something near and dear to my heart and an announcement I have wanted to make for a long time.

We are in the adoption process to adopt a newborn baby. We've chosen an agency, have completed the formal application, pre-study documents, attended adoption training and are waiting for the next step of completing the home study.

We have started a blog to share updates on the process. It will be a central location for friends and family to check in and see what the latest info is. It is still private at this time but I will share the link here as soon as we have it ready for the public. :-)

Adoption has been on our hearts for many years. We have wanted to pursue it several times over the course of our marriage but always felt like it was not the time. Last summer as we continued to pray, we began to hear from the Lord that now was the time to take that leap of faith and start the process.

For several months we prayed, researched the different types of adoption, agencies, talked with adoptive families whose stories are all very different, getting as much information as we could.

In January of this year, we began the process with a Christian agency. It is exciting and somewhat terrifying all at the same time.

We have no idea of what all lies ahead but we know Who already has the plans laid out. We ask for your prayers as we continue on this journey.

And as most everyone is aware, adoption is a costly process. We will be doing a lot of fundraising and will make our friends and family aware of financial needs as they arise and how contributions can be made. We will be doing this via our adoption blog as well as on this blog sometimes.

God has provided abundantly already so early in the process and we look forward to all He has in store.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

"Use What You Have" Spring Wreath

I've been wanting to make a wreath for our kitchen door. Something springy!

We had a yard sale last weekend and a couple straw wreaths were left. (They were donated by a friend.) So instead of donating them at the end of the sale, I decided to make some simple wreaths for our home. 

This one is my first attempt and I like it. It's different and used up some fabric from my scrap basket. 

My plan was to make a wreath with strips of fabric like this one. Then I saw these leftover yellow ruffles. They used to be on some giant square pillow shams that I thrifted and cut up for another project. I saved the ruffles because I love the color and print and well, I can't bear to throw something away that could be used for something else! 

That something else turned out to be this wreath. 

I gathered my supplies-- straw wreath, pile of ruffle pieces and a short piece of white ruffle left from a vintage pillowcase. I used some small pins and also some thumbtacks for securing everything. 

1. Iron all fabric pieces. 
2. Start wrapping the ruffle pieces on the wreath, using pin or tack to secure ends. 
3. Continue wrapping, taking care to overlap pieces slightly to cover raw edges of ruffle.
4. Wrap until wreath is covered. You can see I ran out of ruffles and there is a bare spot. No worries-- I have a plan for that!
5. That little extra piece of ruffle comes in handy here. I scrunched it up to look like a flower then pinned it to the wreath.
6. Next, I glued a few buttons on
to finish off the center of the flower. 
7. Last I added an aqua ribbon hanger. The ribbon coordinates with a light blue/aqua in the center of the flowers.
8. Done!

This was super easy-- took longer to post about the wreath than to actually make it. ;-)

I have this hanging in a sunny location outside so, yes, it will fade with time. The great thing is that by removing the pins, it'll be super simple to update with something else. 

Happy Spring! 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Drying Apples and Tonight's Supper

While supper was baking tonight, I took the time to get a bag of apples ready to dry.

We love dried apples for a little snack, especially for travel. They're like candy--so sweet--but with no added sugar. Just one ingredient: apples! 

I just peel, slice and core the apples and place them on the dehydrator trays to dry. Usually takes about 8-10 hours or overnight. 

So easy and much cheaper than buying a little bag of dried apples from the store. 

For supper tonight, I made a Ham and Cheese Puff Pancake that I had pinned on my Breakfast board. 

It. was. delicious. So so so good! I had to exercise great self-control to save some for tomorrow's breakfast and not gobble it all up tonight. I served the puff pancake with veggies & dip and clementines. 

Seriously, if you like cheesy hammy food, you must try it! 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

At Home This Week

It's March Madness time! 

Last year was my first time filling out a bracket. I had no idea what I was doing but it was so much fun, I did another one this year! 

It will be interesting to see how it turns out. Andy and I picked the same champion of the whole tournament but different ways of getting there! ;-)

Last week went well. I accomplished most things on my list. Just not the deep cleaning. In fact, due to a pretty hectic schedule the next few weeks, I'm putting that on hold. I am still decluttering and putting things aside for our yard sale though. 

On tap for this week:

Gather tax info
Tax appointment
Dehydrate bag of apples
Take dinner to friends one night
Small grocery trip
Trash to dump--done!
Pick up dry cleaning    
Sew 4 kitchen towels--done! Actually made 6 yesterday. 
Cut out and sew 4 aprons. 

This list is in addition to my work outside the home and basic housekeeping (meals, laundry, cleaning, etc.). 

What's going on in your home this week?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

How Many Pennies?

So... in case you were wondering how many pennies were in our penny jar...

The answer is $30.82!

Both guesses were close. Wendi guessed $30.50 which was scary close! Good job to both of my guessers!

We are big fans of saving change. We always have a jar going. Now that this jar has been filled and emptied into savings account, we'll simply start filling it with pennies again!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Thrifty Goodness

Do you like seeing pictures of thrifty treasures?

I do, so I thought I'd share today's finds with you! 

I had a number of errands to run today but we left the house a little earlier so we could hit two thrift stores instead of one. 

Nothing earth-shattering was found today but I did score some useful things on my list. 

Store #1:
4 quart jars for 25 cents each.
2 sheets: $3.50 for the king size was a bit steep, I thought, but it is much less than buying the same amount of fabric at the fabric store and I actually needed a sheet for sewing projects. The twin sheet was $1.

This particular store is very inconsistent in pricing...You just never know!

Store #2: 
2 summer tops: about $5 for both.
4 pint jars: 25 cents each.
Thomas Kinkade note cards: 95 cents.
Dallas Holm CD: $1. 
Pile of greeting cards: 50 cents each. (This particular store has a nice card display; most are 50 cents each. I pay the same for cards at Dollar Tree. But purchasing cards at the thrift store means supporting a thriving local ministry. I needed some cards anyways so a win-win!)

Have you done any thrifting lately?

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Penny Jar


Several years ago, I mentioned our penny jar in this post.

We started it back in 2007 and it finally was full! After numerous shakings to be sure there really was no more room left. ;-)

We started out counting and rolling the pennies ourselves, using up all the penny rolls we had. We are weird and actually enjoy counting our money. LOL

We now know that our bank has a coin machine and will count them for free, as long as coins are sorted. So we took the jar with the remaining contents to the bank and let the machine do the work!

We put the money in our bank account designated for a special savings fund.

And now the question is, "How much money was in the jar?"  And just how many pennies does a half gallon jug hold?

I could tell you...

But I think it'd be fun to have you guess!

And then I'll tell you tomorrow! (Or after at least a few guesses, depending which comes first.)

Monday, March 09, 2015

Homemaking This Week

I am back to part-time hours at work. Yay! I am so happy to be home more again. A lot of things have needed my attention. :-)

This is my 3rd week working part-time. I'm starting to get a good morning routine going again. Last week, I did a lot of subbing. I am on call as an extra if needed. I don't mind some additional hours if  I don't have another obligation or something pressing to accomplish at home. 

We are also on week 3 of the Whole 30 which is a 30 day nutritional reset/cleanse. Today is day 23, I think. :-) After a while, the days run together. We did a Whole 30 last winter as well. It gives our digestive systems a break from carbs and processed foods and helps to get us back on track with balanced healthy eating. We always feel much better when we're done. Bring on the meats, veggies, fruits and healthy fats! 

Our daffodils popped up over the weekend so I picked a couple bouquets to bring inside. So springy! 

I'm preparing for our annual yard sale in a few weeks. My plans are to clean and declutter one room/area each week in preparation. I set out a box in the kitchen so I have a handy place to deposit things I find to sell.

I've been collecting things all year but there may still be a few things left we can declutter. This won't be a huge yard sale; maybe it will be more manageable.  ;-)

I've decided to get rid of my coupon binder! I still coupon but not to the extent I once did. My coupons now easily fit in an envelope in my wallet. 

This week I hope to do some deep cleaning tasks in the kitchen. The plan is to finish 1 or 2 each day. It may take me 1 week. Or longer.... We'll see!

I shipped an Etsy order out this morning. Yay! Also cut out one apron to sew. 

My Etsy goals for this week are to list a couple children's aprons already made and some vintage patterns I have. Also to cut out and sew 2-3 more aprons.

Other things on this week's to-do list:
  • Change all the clocks.
  • Hand wash skirt.
  • Look at drugstore deals and make a plan.
  • Get started on a gift for a friend. 
One of my new routines is to designate a morning for errands. This also includes stopping at a thrift store or two while I'm out. It's something fun to do and also a good way for me to look for good deals on things we are needing. I keep a running list so I know what I'm looking for!
Thrifting may not happen every week--it didn't last week because of the extra hours I worked--but it is a goal to try to hit most weeks if possible. 

This week's errands are:
  • Library--return book.
  • Dollar Tree--some household items.
  • Get glasses adjusted.
  • Drop off dry cleaning.
  • Thrift store.
Already shaping up to be a busy week! What are your plans?

Verses the Lord brought to my mind this morning, which I wrote out and put in my kitchen window where I can meditate on them through the week are Philippians 4:6-7 which say,

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." 

I pray that you will find great peace no matter what your situation is this week!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Little Gift For Valentine's Day

I thought I'd show you this little gift I put together for my co-teacher for Valentine's Day. 

Ummm, I was at the store earlier today but totally forgot about getting her a little something! So tonight, I looked through my  gift stash to see if I had anything that she would enjoy. We are celebrating Valentine's Day at work tomorrow.

So I found a pink set of homemade hand warmers, some strawberry gum in my pantry (it's fresh!) and a couple candy canes I hot glued together to make a heart.

She loves pink, her hands are often cold and she likes peppermint and chewing gum. 

How's that for gift giving rationale? Ha! 

I dressed up a plain tiny gift bag with some trim and a thrifted crocheted flower (like I used here). Hot glue gun to the rescue! 

A small gift but something cute that says, "I'm thinking of you!" 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Lasagna Gardening, Take 1

Saturday was a beautiful sunny day, perfect for working in our garden!

I've been interested in lasagna gardening for several years. Lasagna gardening is a no dig, no till method of gardening. Instead of digging and tilling dirt, one makes layers of peat moss and other soil enriching components. Basically, you can take a hard piece of ground, put newspapers down to kill the existing grass/weeds, then layer the other stuff on top--within months you will have a lovely rich soil to plant in.

Andy gave me the book Lasagna Gardening for my birthday last year. So I've been itching to get started!

We started with our existing garden plot which has wonderful soil but lots of aggressive weeds.

First step is to soak newspapers and then put thick pads of them all over the soil. I had Andy's parents save newspapers for me and also got a big box of them from a lady via Freecycle.

 The second step was to pour a layer of peat moss down. I sectioned the garden into quarters and used cardboard to mark off a path.  Looks like a cross, doesn't it? I had to make another trip to Farmer's Exchange to pick up an additional bale of peat moss. By the time this is done, we'll be on first name basis. ;-)
Next, I made layers of compost, grass clippings and a sprinkling of bonemeal--all stuff we had already. No picture of these layers, because....ewww! Not all my compost is fully decomposed. I covered this with a thick layer of straw. I only used about 1/2 a bale so straw is a cost effective addition to the lasagna garden at only $5 a bale.

The garden is smelling lovely at this point...

 I started putting mulch that we already had on hand over the path area to make it look nicer. Apparently, I didn't get a picture of that...

Done for today with layering. Last step is to cover everything with black plastic and secure it. Not only will covering it help the layers to "cook" and decompose, it will also help to deter a very nosy dog who finds compost and bonemeal to be quite delightful.;-)

I'll be adding more layers in the coming weeks--more peat moss, compost, straw, etc.

Stay tuned for more adventures in Lasagna gardening!

This is our first time using this method so if you have experience with this, please share!

And my sincere apologies to my readers who are covered in snow...;-)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

I'm Still Here

For the past six months, I've been working full time hours at work. The first 3-4 weeks were substituting for a coworker who was out for surgery. The rest of the time has been in the 3 year old room filling in for the assistant teacher until a replacement has been found.

I was offered the job and for a short time felt God wanted me to take the position but through the interview process and continuing to pray, it was clear I was not to take the job. However, I am filling in until the position is filled. It has taken longer than planned.

They had an assistant hired to start December 1st but that person did not end up starting due to various circumstances. They now have another teacher hired and slated to start Feb. 16. Praying that all goes well! I really want to go back to my part-time hours.

The main reason this has taken so long is that this is a government job. :-) The time frame from posting the position on the web site to interviewing to hiring is about a 6-8 week process. It is a very time-consuming process. Add to that the fact that we were closed for 2 weeks around Christmas and New Year's.

This has not been the easiest assignment ever and I am exhausted beyond words most evenings. But God has been faithful through it!

In case you wonder why blogging has been so sporadic, that is why. :-)

No picture today. Hopefully more blogging to come before too long. I need to finish my vacation posts plus I have lots of other posts waiting in the wings.

Love you all and will talk more soon!