Archive | November, 2012

Crafting with my Cricut: Christmas Time!

30 Nov

The Christmas tree is up and the stockings are hung by the window with care (no fireplace here).  I don’t know about you but the weeks before Christmas put me in the biggest mood for sewing and crafting.  😉  Anybody else feel that way?

Usually I turn to sewing when I am feeling creative.  Earlier this week I decided to turn to my Cricut instead.  Last Christmas I was surprised (& I mean surprised) with a Cricut.  It’s a type of die-cutting machine that can do crazy cool stuff.  Honestly I’m still not very good at using the Cricut but I was so pleased with how this craft turned out I thought I would share.  🙂  I really wanted to create something to remind my family of the Joy of Christmas.  It’s so easy during the hustle & bustle of December to lose sight of the real meaning-Jesus!

So thankful that Christ endured the cross for the JOY set before him. What a great reason to celebrate!


First I took a piece of finished wood (purchased at JoAnns) and painted it with two coats of acrylic paint.  I used Martha Stewart’s acrylic satin paint for multi-surfaces.

I used the Winter Wonderland cartridge and white vinyl.  I cut out the “Joy” phrase at 3.5″ and the snowflake at 2.5″.  Then I removed the sticky side from the vinyl and attached it to the wood.  Then I painted the plaque with Poly Acrylic sealer and let dry.  I thought about attaching ribbon but decided that since it is so small I will probably just place it on a windowsill.

A simple way to add some Christmas cheer to our window.


Elijah had a wonderful time helping me with this craft but I also wanted to do something special just for him.  I had some leftover vinyl so I cut out a snowman and a couple of snowflakes.  He loved them!


What type of Christmas crafts do you have planned?


Frugal Things I Did Last Week

27 Nov

The pillowcase I made from scrap fabric last week. (Someone asked for a photo last week.)

This past week I have spent a lot of time just being thankful for all of our wonderful blessings.  I would even include frugality as one of the things that I am incredibly thankful for.  Without penny-pinching there is NO WAY that I would be able to have the privilege of being a domestic engineer and spending my day in the home.  😉  (By the way I don’t stay home JUST because of my son Elijah-there are so many more reasons.  Here is an excellent short clip on mother’s working outside the home that I appreciate.)  That aside I am thankful for frugality because it pushes me.  I believe in the past 2 years I have become SO MUCH more creative in nearly every aspect.  Just as an example my cooking has improved greatly  as I have cooked things I never dreamed of cooking.  I have probably sewn more items in the past two years than I have in the last ten years combined!  You know what-even frugality can be a blessing if you let it be.  So do that.  Let frugality be a blessing to you and your family! 

Just a few of the Frugal Things I Did Last Week:

I went thrift store shopping with my sister-in-law while I was in Arkansas.  So much fun!  I bought two much-needed sweaters for myself, a cute purse, clothes for Elijah, a book, and even a life jacket for Eli.

I received a free sippy in the mail from USA Kids.  We love it!

I received a free $25 FedEx gift card from a giveaway I entered on Facebook.  😉  One of my favorite freebies so far!  I also received free samples of: herb tea, Vitamins, Biore face wash, Biore pore strip, lotion, and Airborne.  Quite the week for samples!  😉

We ate leftovers and sandwiches when we REALLY didn’t want to.  We tried to eat up everything in our fridge before Thanksgiving.  I think this not only helps us be frugal but it is great self-discipline in not satisfying every one of our wants!

I purchased Elijah two t-shirts off the clearance rack at Target for 3.00 each.  We went to Arkansas to visit family and it was in the 70s all week!  The sweaters I packed just would not cut it!

I downloaded free books for my Kindle on amazon.

We skipped going to the movies on Thanksgiving and stayed in playing Monopoly.  🙂

I ordered my Christmas cards on Black Friday and saved 75%.  So nice to check that off my list!

I bought a Christmas gift on-line for a great price.

My mother-in-law gave me 2 turkeys that she got for free from the grocery.  We love turkey and these 2 birds will provide meat for many meals.

I went shopping at Hancock’s on Black Friday.  I purchased a handful of patterns for my slight addiction.  😉  I also bought enough flannel to last until at least the summer.  I bought only the doorbusters.  Now I just need to get busy sewing Christmas presents!

We traveled to Arkansas to visit family.  I packed a nice cooler for drinks and snacks so we didn’t need to purchase snacks along the way.  (The hubby prefers to eat out when we are traveling so we did.)  We stayed the night with friends on the way down (it was a blast!!!)   and drove straight back on the way home even though it is a lot easier to travel driving 1/2 way and spending the night.  It costs us a lot of money to travel to visit family (a minimum of $200 just for gas!) so I was really glad we made it without the cost of a hotel.  We are really feeling the Holiday pinch as I’m sure most of you are.  😉

I worked on a homemade Christmas present.  (I do hate not being able to share what I am working on for fear that the people receiving the gift will see them!)  😉

I made a Deco-Mesh wreath that I absolutely love with my mother-in-law.  I think I have had it hanging in 4 different locations so far!

I received 2 books to review in the mail.  Most of the time I get to pick from a list of books.  This time I purposefully picked a book that I thought Brandon would enjoy reading.  I was right he’s already read the first chapter!  Thankfully Brandon and I enjoy reading many of the same types of books.  Though he doesn’t care too much for my Amish fiction books.  😉


What frugal activities have you been up to? 

Homemade Peanut Butter Popcorn

26 Nov

We love peanut butter popcorn at our house!

We have just wrapped up a wonderful family evening trimming our Christmas tree and spending time together.  I’m a bit old-fashioned and always enjoy stringing some popcorn up as a decoration too.  I refuse to buy microwave popcorn it tastes disgusting compared to the real thing.  😉  It’s also SO much more fun to watch and a lot cheaper.  Elijah stood in his learning tower the whole time it was cooking watching it just pop away.  We had a great time making (and eating) our peanut butter popcorn.  Hope you enjoy it too!

Peanut Butter Popcorn:

Pop enough popcorn to make 8 cups popped.  Let cool.

In a saucepan combine 1/2 c. sugar, 1/2 c. honey (or corn syrup-I use honey).  Heat until it comes to a rolling boil.  Remove from heat and add 1/2 c. peanut butter (I use smooth) and 1/2 t. vanilla.  Pour over popcorn and stir to coat evenly.  Enjoy!


Frugal Things I Did Last Week

20 Nov

One of our favorite frugal spots-A.J. Jolly Park. We went kayaking here nearly every week since this spring!

Hope everyone is having a wonderful Thanksgiving week.  We are having a great time hanging out and spending time with family in Arkansas this week.  

This Week’s Frugal Activities: 

I cooked a turkey-that’s right a whole turkey for my little family.  It works out great since I was able to get the turkey for .49/pound which is way cheaper than a whole chicken.  A friend of mine gave me a turkey roaster so it is even easier now.  I also made homemade turkey broth.  

We had dinner for my parents in honor of their 32nd wedding anniversary instead of going out to eat at a restaurant.  (Dinner at a restaurant would have cost well over $100 for 10 people.)  All five of my brothers and sisters also came over making it a dinner for 10!  I served Chicken Divan (using Turkey), canned green beans from the garden, salad, apple cake, and banana pudding.  It was a great way to honor my parents and we all had a lot of fun.  I was probably in high school the last time I saw my parents on their anniversary so this was extra special.

I sewed a flannel pillowcase for Eli using scrap fabric I found in my stash.  It even matches a warm flannel sheet I made him last year.  You can make really cute sheets for your baby or toddler using just 2 yard of fabric.  Here is a really simple tutorial to make your own.  If you are new to sewing a pillowcase is a wonderful first project.  🙂

I sent a free card to a solider from shutterfly.

I ordered a piano book for my student on amazon rather than spend the gas money (and time) to drive 30 minutes to the music store.

I had my aunt and cousin over for a play-date   Elijah and Anna had a great time playing together and it was fun to catch up with my aunt.  I made Creamy Veggie Chicken Soup and grilled cheese for lunch.  It was frugal, simple, and delicious. I had my mom fix my serger rather than taking it to a sewing repair shop. Elijah and I made Chocolate Chip Bananna Muffins.  Muffins are one of Eli’s favorites.  He loves to make them and eat them!  I love being able to control the ingredients.

I repaired a shirt that had a hole in it.  Not only did I save the money of purchasing a new shirt but I saved the time it would take to buy another one.

What frugal things have you done this week?  

October Reads

12 Nov


Lots of fun reads this month!

As I look back over my reads this past month they seem kind of shallow.  Oh well!  Lots of fun, relaxing reads and one that has been a great help to my spiritual life.  We are visiting family in Arkansas for Thanksgiving so I am confident next month’s list will be a little more varied.  I’m hoping to pass the majority of time in the car happily lost in any number of books.   (It makes me such a happier traveler.)  😉 

The Bridesmaid by Beverly Lewis As always this book was just as I expected-lovely.  When it comes to a good fiction book I can just lose myself in for a couple of hours Beverly Lewis is my kind of author.  I love Christian Amish fiction novels and hers are my favorite.  I have read every single one!  The book chronicles the story of Joanna who has been a bridesmaid three times but never a bride.  Overall this book was great.  Please note that I did receive a review copy of this book courtesy of Bethany House Publishers.  The review did not have to be favorable.  All opinions are my own.

Overcoming, Fear, Worry, and Anxiety by Elyse Fitzpatrick.  Elyse Fitzpatrick is one of my favorite women authors right up there next to Elisabeth Elliot so I had high hopes for this book.  I was not disappointed in the least bit!  I have had the privilege of studying this book over the past couple of months in a ladies Bible Study.  Words cannot express how God has used this book to challenge me and convict me of the sin of worrying in my own life.  The book could not have been more timely in my life.  Over the past couple of weeks it seems I have worried about all sorts of things that I usually don’t (the election for example).  This book has helped identify sources of worry and fear in my own life that I didn’t realize were there among many other things.  I would HIGHLY recommend this book. 

A Home in Drayton Valley by Kim Vogel Sawyer.  This book chronicles the journey of Tarsie Raines as she escapes the poor conditions of New York City during the period of Reconstruction.  After tragedy strikes Tarsie is thrown together with Joss in a way she never expected.  I found this book to be quite enjoyable as I really enjoy historical fiction.  I did find a little bit of the book to be a little bit far-fetched similar to how I would view many events that are typical of a Lifetime Movie.  😉  Overall the book was a nice read that I enjoyed while hanging out with my family.  Please note that I did receive a review copy of this book courtesy of Bethany House Publishers.  The review did not have to be favorable.  All opinions are my own.

French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billion This book chronicles how Le Billion and her family moved to France and how her family adapted to eating in the French culture.  She was able to cure picky eating, put an end to snacking, and came up with 10 rules for raising healthy, happy eaters.  I loved this book!  I found myself agreeing with the great majority of this book.  I love how she emphasizes the importance of family dinners.  We eat dinner together as a family every night and also have the privilege of eating breakfast AND lunch together most days.  When we had Elijah we were determined not to cater to picky eating in our home and thankfully so far (Eli is nearly 3) have succeeded for the time being.  (I do realize more food battles will come again later.)  Most of the time eating healthy food (even vegetables)with our son is a joy.  One of his favorite foods is actually salad!  I did think it was lame that when the author moved back to Canada she allowed her children to eat lots of junk food because of peer pressure.  Overall this book was great.

Pretty in Patchwork Holidays by John Q. Adams.  I picked up this book from our library but I won’t lie.  I am sorely tempted to buy it myself!  The only thing holding me back (besides trying to be frugal) is the fact that all of the projects are patchwork which is kind of like miniature quilting.  Confession: I don’t think I have ever done a patchwork or quilt type of project of any kind.  I guess this would be a great way to stretch myself right?  😉  The following projects have definitely caught my eye: Drawstring Gift Bag, Insulated Buffet Runner,Harvest Vine Table Runner, Gift Card Giver (as an ornament), and Holiday Shopping List Folio.  The patterns in the back do have to be enlarged which is a pet peeve of mine since our printer doesn’t enlarge things.  Overall a nice Christmas sewing book.  Since I haven’t made any of the projects I can’t really vouch for how wonderful the directions are.

Christmas Crafts: Scandinavian Style by Tone Stenklov and Miriam Nilsen Morken.  This book was pretty disappointing.  The projects were okay I guess but just not really my style.  I’m not planning on making any of the projects.  Glad this one was from the library!  😉

Frugal Things I Did Last Week

9 Nov

We have been enjoying lots of time on the playground lately. On cold days we just bundle up! One of the great perks to living right next door to the church-we have a playground in our backyard!

I sewed a Crayon Roll as part of a birthday gift.  I had all of the materials on hand even the crayons.  (I always keep an extra pack or two on hand.)  The other part of the birthday gift was a cute little nightgown I purchased on clearance dirt cheap.  I re-used a gift bag and purchased an inexpensive card at the Dollar General. 

I sewed a birthday gift for my sister.  It turned out super cute!  I can’t wait to show you all.  🙂 

My son Elijah wore a Dinosaur Costume that I made for him the week before.  It probably cost about the same as a cheap costume from Walmart but I like to think the quality was a little better.  (It isn’t likely to rip and I’m sure he will be using it to play for at least the next year or so.)

I purchased a couple much-needed items for Elijah at Goodwill’s 1/2 price sale on Friday.  Hopefully now he will be able to squeak by until Christmas with the clothes he has now.  I had a great time dressing Eli up in his new clothes for church today.  I also purchased two Christmas gifts, garland, and a nice Snowman bowl for our Christmas Open House. 

We used a great Buy One Get Free Breakfast coupon and had brunch at Bob Evans.  We all had water to drink (no stupid tax for us) and I shared my meal with Eli.  We save lots of money by usually getting drinks and rarely getting Eli a kid’s meal.  Restaurant portions are so large that there is always plenty for me to share with Elijah.  The only exception to this is usually when we are travelling.  We usually do purchase kids meals and milk for Elijah. 

We went to the library and came home with a stack of books, magazines, and movies.  One of the books I brought home was a book I almost purchased on Amazon.  So glad I waited!  It turned out to be not that great. 

 I read Beverly Lewis’ new book that I received in the mail free as a book reviewer.  It was really good too!  😉 

I went to dinner with friends and used a coupon that a friend brought along.  I drank water (to save money and calories).  We all had a blast and it turned out to be fairly inexpensive for eating out on a Friday night. 

I cooked a pot of Black Beans (a pound of dried beans).  We love black beans at our house and cooking them myself is much cheaper than buying canned black beans.  I buy my black beans in a 10 pound bag at Sam’s for around 1.00 a pound.  I cook them seasoned with spices and tomatoes.  We eat them over Cous Cous for dinner.  Then I freeze the rest in 2 cup increments in the freezer.  Most of the meals that I make that call for black beans call for 1 15 oz. can of black beans which is about 2 cups.  These beans are MUCH better than the canned beans you buy. 

What sort of frugal activities have you been up to?

Elijah’s Dinosaur Costume: McCall’s 6185 or MP249 Review

4 Nov

Eli love love loved his costume!


I’m not sure what I was thinking when I decided to sew Elijah a dinosaur costume.  I definitely WASN’T thinking about the 80 steps involved!  I ended up skipping a few but there were 70 steps to this project no joke!  This was my first attempt at sewing a costume and I think I probably should have settled for a superhero cape and mask like my friend Erin made.

Eli had an absolute blast dressing up and having fun at our church’s Trunk or Treat.


I won’t lie.  This project was LONG.  Just cutting out all of the pieces took 2 1/2 hours!  I should have known then this project would take forever.  😉  I seriously considered giving up and scrapping this project but I persevered.  Elijah was giddy with excitement over the prospect of his costume.  He would sit and watch me sew for what seemed like forever.  Periodically he would come into the sewing room and ask if he could try it on.  😉  It did take all of my free time for 3 days straight but I finished it.  The face below made it all worth it!

The face that made all of the long sewing hours worth it!

I sewed view B in a size 3.  The measurements on the envelope are not helpful at all.  My son is 37″ tall and this costume was really big on him.  (He wears size 3t ready-made clothing.) As far as the actual sewing goes I did make a few slight changes.  I did not line the hood.  I don’t know why in the world you would want to line it.  This saved nearly 10 steps.  Hooray! 🙂

The seam allowance varies from 3/8 to 5/8 so be careful to sew accordingly.  I had a really hard time adding elastic in step 22 to the wrists so I omitted it for the time being.  The hands seemed to stay on well despite this.  I do wish that the tail was removable as it is pretty heavy. (I don’t know if I would make this for a young toddler as it may be difficult to walk in.)  I also followed the applique instructions to a T but the eyes and nose kept coming off so I ended up hot gluing them to the costume.

I don’t know if I would say this was a fun project-it was really long and awkward to sew at times with that big old tail!  The result was very nice.  Eli has really enjoyed wearing it around the house and has perfected a very loud ROAR!!!


October at Our Home

3 Nov

Phew!  October has been a month buzzing with excitement and busyness for all of us.  This may have been my longest blogging break so far.  🙂 

Our month started out with enjoying our local Wool Festival.  That’s right.  Here we have a festival to celebrate sheep’s wool.  (Having raised and shown sheep myself this seems perfectly normal to me.)  It is an absolute blast.  There are live demonstrations, music, food, crafts, and all sorts of things.  My favorite part of the Wool Fest is running into all sorts of people I know.  It’s a great time to reconnect with others.  Brandon, Elijah, and I were all able to go this year which was great.  We can’t wait for next year.

Brandon and I have continued our counseling training.  We attended another weekend conference this past month and look forward to finishing the final conference sessions next week.  Brandon will also be working towards his NANC certification.  (I would also like to pursue certification but we will probably wait for Brandon to finish first since it can be kind of intense.)

Elijah continues to be such a little joy in our lives.  Everyday it seems we are laughing our heads off at something he just said.  I really think we need to start a journal of all of his funny sayings!  The other day he came home from church and said that he learned that Abraham was married to Sarah Burton (a good friend of mine) and they had a son named Damian (a boy at our church).  😉

The biggest thing this past month was the fact that my parents went on vacation (alone) to Florida for 8 days!  We were both super excited for them but a little nervous about the prospect of being in charge of nearly 3 teenagers (my youngest 3 siblings).  We stayed at the farm while my parents were away.  Not only did we have to keep them alive until my parents got back but they also had to do their lessons and schoolwork as homeschoolers.  Brandon left early every morning to go to work and I was left with 3 kids to homeschool and keep Eli out of trouble.  😉  Boy was it a lot different from what I thought it would be!  I thought I would have all sorts of free time to sew and read a couple of books.  I didn’t even glance at a pattern or a single page in a book the entire time I was there!  I have an even greater respect for those out there who homeschool.   We did get to do a fun Chemistry unit complete with lots of experiments while I was there.  Thankfully nothing exploded!  😉  I also really enjoyed working on some Christmas duets with my youngest sister Bekah.  Elijah had an absolute blast which is to be expected.  It was fun to watch him playing and learning all sorts of things-even how to grease traps with Uncle Caleb.  I’m so thankful we were able to bless my parents in this way but I did miss my home a lot.

We had a great time at Trunk-or-Treat with our church.  Elijah dressed up as a red dinosaur and had a blast playing with all of the kids.  He made a pretty cute dinosaur too.  😉  Our month concluded with attending a birthday party for our friend’s little girl which was lots of fun!