Archive | January, 2013

January Reads

31 Jan
Lots of great books this month!

Lots of great books this month!

 

It’s hard to believe January is almost over.  Where did this month go?  Looks like I spent a lot of time reading this month.  🙂

Esther by John Piper: I was surprised when I received this book that it was actually a poetry book.  Just one long poem about Esther.  🙂  I originally thought this book would be similar to Piper’s A Sweet & Bitter Providence (about the book of Ruth) which I have also read.  The illustrations in this book were lovely and I thoroughly enjoyed reading Piper’s poetry.  One could easily sit down and read this short book in one sitting as I did.  After reading this book I am sure I will be reading more of Piper’s poetry.  I also think this book would make a wonderful gift!

As Silver Refined: Learning to Embrace Life’s Disappointments by Kay Arthur: I’ve been a fan of Kay Arthur for years and found this book to be great.  I read it much slower than I usually do and spread out the book throughout the month.  I would read a chapter and then think, ponder, and pray about what God was teaching me through this book.  I think this is the first book I have every read on disappointments even though everyone faces some sort of disappointments in life.  I have no doubt that I will be recommending this book to friends in the future and may possibly use it in counseling.

What’s Your Problem by John Yates: I picked up this book at the library and I must say it was interesting.  He gives helpful suggestions on resolving all sorts of various problems consumers might have.  Personally I am currently having a big problem with HP over a broken laptop so I found this book very helpful.  I do wish that he would have included more specifics in his chapter on fixing problems with your health insurance company.  Overall a nice library book but not one I would want to own.

The Empowered Patient: How to Get the Right Diagnosis, Buy the Cheapest Drugs, Beat Your Insurance Company, & Get the Best Medical Care Every Time by Elizabeth S. Cohen.  This book was awesome.  Well as awesome as a book about healthcare can be.  🙂  A lot of the tips in the book I was already familiar with especially the section on prescription drugs.  I now feel like I have a much better understanding of how pharmaceutical companies influence physician’s decisions when prescribing medicine.  There were also some wonderful sheets to print off in the appendix when preparing for an appointment with your healthcare provider.  I ALWAYS take notes when I go to the doctor for any reason but I found this book to include great suggestions.  Cohen suggests writing down your top 3 concerns before visiting your doctor so that you make sure to discuss them.  Great book!

The Conviction to Lead by Albert Mohler:   I was a little intimidated to review Dr. Mohler’s latest book.  You see I actually graduated from the seminary where he is president less than 2 years ago.  🙂  I have heard him speak on numerous occasions, have met him in person, and have even been over to his house for a reception where I saw his famous library.  😉  I think it has been about four years since I have read a book on leadership or thought much about leadership for that matter.  I don’t know that I would really see myself as a leader today although in the past I would have.  Everyone is a leader to someone though.  I picked up this book because I was really hoping that Dr. Mohler would share about the beginnings of his presidency at Southern.  Although he shared bits and pieces I was a little disappointed that he did not share more.  (I realize this wasn’t the premise of the book but I was just secretly hoping.)  This book was surprisingly easy to read even though I always found myself going huh? during his chapel sermons.  🙂  I did find myself enjoying the book-especially the chapter on how leaders are readers.  I’ve definitely got that one covered!

Young House Love by Sherry & John Petersik: This book was awesome!  I found myself just wanting to start painting things.  I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t have any paint in the house or I might have ended up painting my piano pink.  J/K 😉  (Yes I have played on a pink piano before.)  I absolutely loved this book and hope to purchase it in the future.  Even if you don’t own your home (we don’t) there are many small things you can do to give your house some love.  I am hoping to try my hand at painting a lamp or small table this summer.  This book is very inspiring and I loved that the couple is young & inexperienced just like me!

Sewing Lingerie that Fits by Karen Morris: This book was wonderful and also inspiring.  I learned so much reading through this book that I even  purchased a pattern to make a simple slip and hope to complete it sometime next month.  The book even talks about bra construction which is something I doubt I will ever attempt!

Pocketful of Pinecones by Karen Andreola: This book about nature study for children was absolutely adorable.  The book is written as a journal of a young mother with two children who wants to teach them more about nature.  I found myself falling in love with the young mom and so wish I could invite her over for tea.  Too bad she’s a fictional character!  This book is packed full of encouragement and ideas on teaching your children to love nature.  Elijah and I have long been nature walkers.  I hope to continue this tradition throughout his childhood.  The book also details keeping nature notebooks which I think would also be fun in the future.  Eli seems a bit young for this right now.  🙂  I was encouraged by this book to set more time aside throughout our day for just enjoying the beautiful nature that is around us.

Mini-Farming: Self Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre by Brett Markham.  This book was perfect for the current cold season.  I am itching to get started on my garden!  The book spends a lot of time discussing raised beds.  Unlike other gardening/homesteading books Mini Farming encourages the reader to think about what gardening could mean financially to their family.  Markham notes that for many families the increasing cost of food makes it impossible for both parents not to work full-time.  (Sadly food prices continue to soar each year.)  He talks about how mini-farming could free up a substantial amount of money that might allow one spouse to work fewer hours or even stay home.  In the book he also gives suggestions for selling excess produce in order to generate more income.  I don’t think we will be selling produce this upcoming year but it does give me something to think about.  This book encouraged me to see my gardening as almost a part-time job that will bring incredible financial and health benefits to my family.

What books did you read the past month?  Do you have any recommendations?  

 

12 Goals for This Week

29 Jan
We had lots of fun last week playing under the coffee table.

We had lots of fun last week playing under the coffee table.

 

Last week I ended up with a nasty cold that knocked me down for a couple of days.  I’m ready for spring!  

Last Week’s Goals:

Family/Marriage/Mothering Goals

1. Sprout bean seeds with Elijah in a paper towel.  We originally taped the bags on the window but the seeds wouldn’t sprout.  After moving them to a warmer spot they have sprouted!

2. Plan and enjoy a great at home date night for Brandon.  We had fun hanging out together Thursday night.  I made a special dessert that was a complete flop but we had a great laugh over it.  Really Coconut Milk & Quinoa what was I thinking?  We also enjoyed a movie together.

3. Continue teaching Elijah the story of Creation this week.

Personal Goals

4. Read As Silver Refined: Learning to Embrace Life’s Disappointments.  I have two chapters left!  

5. Exercise at least three times.  I only made it to the gym once last week but we were sick most of the week.

6. Finish all Christmas thank-you notes!  (I found a list and realized I forgot to write a few.) -Oops I totally forgot about this!

Homemaking Goals

7.  Make homemade Greek Yogurt.-No this didn’t happen either.

8.   Spend two hours working on getting tax info together.  (I’m estimating it will take at least 5 hours to do this.)  -This didn’t exactly happen.  I did start a folder and compile all of our tax related documents that came in the mail.  

9. Spend two hours cleaning the sewing room from top to bottom.  It’s not anywhere near clean but I did make an effort.

Business Goals

10. Sew two items for my Etsy shop that I hope to open soon.  I did sew a bridal shower present does that count?  🙂

11. Print more business cards.  I need to fix our printer….

Ministry Goals

12.  Attend a funeral for a friend’s Grandmother who passed away.

13.  Attend our church’s women’s retreat in Amish Country.   Unfortunately this was cancelled.

——————————————————————————————

This Week’s Goals:

Family/Marriage/Mothering Goals

 

1.  Take Elijah to Storytime at the Library and swim lessons.  I would also like to take him swimming this week.

2.  Read two chapters of Little House Farm Days to Eli.

3.  Begin reading Sweethearts for a Lifetime.  Isn’t that the best title?

 

Personal Goals

4. Exercise at least three times.  

5. Finish all Christmas thank-you notes.  I’m embarrassed these still are not done.

6.  Call a friend to catch up.

Homemaking Goals

7.  Watch a fun movie and work on getting tax info together for the entire length of the movie.  🙂

8.  Come up with a nice housewarming gift for some friends.

9.  Attend a Photoshop class.

Business Goals

10.  Fix printer and have my Laptop fixed.  (It’s been a rough week technologically speaking.)

Ministry Goals

11.  Decide on the direction of our Spring Ladies’ Bible Study.

12.  Send two cards this week to encourage friends.

What are your goals this week? 

 

Frugal Things I Did Last Week

29 Jan
For baby shower gifts I always try to find a nice balance between fun and practical gifts.  This friend received two flannel sheets, two onesies, and a book.

For baby shower gifts I always try to find a nice balance between fun and practical gifts. This friend received two flannel sheets, two onesies, and a book.

 

We were sick most of the past week with colds so my list is a little shorter than usual.  🙂  I’m just thankful we didn’t end up with the flu or a virus.  Honestly I spent most of the week resting and getting extra sleep.  I also read a few books.  

I attended a baby shower for twins (a boy & a girl).  I made two coordinating flannel sheets and two appliqued onesies.  I also included a book in lieu of a card.  At the baby shower I won a game and received two pairs of really cute earrings.

We bought new tires for my Saturn.  While waiting I was reviewing the paperwork from the last time we purchased tires three years ago.  I noticed that the tires had not lasted the full 50,000 miles that they were supposed to and mentioned it.  In return I was given $30 off my purchase and a free alignment.  Just mentioning that probably saved $100.  It sure pays to keep good records!  The tire place told me that my car needed a new exhaust system ($775).  I got a second opinion from CarX.  They were able to weld a new piece onto the car for $159.  I hesitated getting my car fixed and the man offered me $20 off to have it done that day which I did.  The only reason I didn’t want to have it done that day is because I didn’t bring a book to read.  🙂

I purchased a portable carpet cleaner online from Bissell.  I was able to use a rebate code to get $20 off.  I also didn’t have to pay shipping or tax since it was shipped from outside my state.  (If I had purchased it from amazon I would have had to pay tax.)  Carpet cleaning machines are impossible to find at thrift stores so after a month of searching we are just buying one.  We have a chair that really needs a little tlc and a car that desperately needs detailing.  I am going to attempt to do the detailing myself.  I’ll let you know how it turns out.  🙂

We had a guest evangelist at church on Sunday which was great.  After church we had he & his wife over for lunch.  I served Crockpot Chili over Spaghetti & Oreo Goodness.  It was simple and the fellowship was wonderful.  🙂

I used a couple of coupons at Meijer which were doubled for products we would buy anyway.  I also purchased some yogurt, orange juice, and cottage cheese on clearance.  I no longer play the Drugstore Game but I do use a small amount of coupons monthly.

I made two loaves of Cranberry Bread using cranberries from the freezer and orange juice that was about to expire.  We will eat one and either freeze or gift the other.

I sewed a camera strap cover for my camera out of scrap material from the garment bag I made.  It turned out pretty cute but I will probably make another one in a couple of weeks that can hold a lens cover.  I wear a lot of skirts that don’t have pockets so that would be handy.  🙂

I sewed a gift for a bridal shower I will be attending next week.  The bride reads my blog so I won’t be able to share until next week.  😉

The hubby took me on a surprise date where we used a coupon to save $10.  Going out to eat is very important to my husband so we go out once a week.  I always print coupons when I find them and place them in a “Date Ideas Folder” to leave in the car.  The food tastes even better when you aren’t paying full price for it!

What frugal things did you do last week?  

 

Swim Lessons with Elijah

27 Jan
Elijah getting ready for swim lessons.

Elijah getting ready for swim lessons.

I was beyond excited when Elijah’s Great Grandma gave him swim lessons for Christmas.  We have been wanting him to take lessons since last summer but it just didn’t happen.  I’m so glad we were finally able to start them.  This past week Elijah took his second swim lesson and did wonderful!  Brandon & I both have fond memories of swim lessons and wanted Elijah to have the same opportunity.  Both of Elijah’s grandparents have pools and we also live next to a creek!

Elijah is really good at crawling along the wall.  He does it even when he's not supposed to!

Elijah is really good at crawling along the wall. He does it even when he’s not supposed to!

We are taking them at our local gym where we are members.  The first week Elijah was the only one in his class!  This past week another little boy who is older joined his class.  The little boy is a great swimmer for only being 4 years old.  I’m really thankful Eli is in such a small class.  🙂  (We take lessons during the middle of the week in order to keep our weekends free.)

Elijah is really squirmy at swim lessons.

Elijah is really squirmy at swim lessons.

So far Elijah can put his face in the water and blow bubbles.  He can almost float on his back.

Elijah keeps trying to hug the kickboard.

Elijah keeps trying to hug the kick board.

We have another month of lessons (I think) and I am looking forward to Eli making lots of progress.  It is so much fun to watch him at lessons!

Elijah is doing a great job blowing bubbles in the water.

Elijah is doing a great job blowing bubbles in the water.

In just a week Elijah has gotten a lot better at going under the water.  I think they call it “bobbing” in his class.  Currently he is up to two bobs in a row.

Elijah loves swim lessons so much it is hard to get him to leave.

Elijah loves swim lessons so much it is hard to get him to leave.

I am so thankful Elijah is able to take swim lessons right now.  At first I thought it might be a crazy time of the year to take them but it is working well.  During the summer we are so busy with traveling, ministry opportunities, family commitments, and gardening.  It is also a great Winter activity for my active little guy.

Elijah’s Christmas PJ’s: Kwik Sew 854 Review

23 Jan
Eli was so pleased with his Christmas pajamas!

Eli was so pleased with his Christmas pajamas!

 

I’ve always wanted to make Elijah Christmas pajamas.  This past Christmas was Elijah’s fourth Christmas and I finally made them!  🙂  I’m pretty sure making Christmas pajamas is going to be a Christmas tradition at our home.  

The pajamas even have the little grippy fabric on the bottom of the feet.

The pajamas even have the little grippy fabric on the bottom of the feet.

I used Kwik Sew 854 for this project.  I’m pretty sure this qualifies as my first sewing project using a “vintage” pattern.  My mom actually gave me the pattern and had made it in numerous sizes.  I”m guessing that she might have even made pajamas for me from this pattern.  Isn’t that cool?  I contacted Kwik Sew trying to find out what year the pattern was made and they wouldn’t tell me.  😦

 

My boy showing some serious attitude.

My boy showing some serious attitude.

I used a Christmas mittens fabric purchased from JoAnn fabrics.  I also purchased the hunter green ribbing there.  (Hancock Fabrics no longer carries ribbing.) I made a size 3 with no adjustments that was a perfect fit for my little man!  He should have enough room to wear these throughout the winter.  The instructions were pretty straightforward and I changed only two things.   I did not add the applique or the tab (piece 7).  I thought it was really interesting that there was a specific piece for the Crotch.  (I’m not sure if that is unique or if most sleepers have them.)

I was a little unhappy with how the zipper turned out but I am still fairly inexperienced when it comes to zippers.

I was a little unhappy with how the zipper turned out but I am still fairly inexperienced when it comes to zippers.

 

The only adjustment I would make next time would be to lengthen the sleeve and shorten the amount of ribbing.  (I think it looks slightly dated with the large ribbing.)

Elijah thinks the pjs are perfect for sliding around on the hardwood floors.

Elijah thinks the pjs are perfect for sliding around on the hardwood floors.

This was such a fun project and I am pleased with how it turned out.  I may end up making another one in some camo fleece that I have on hand.  I just wish the pattern also included size 4.  I might just have to enlarge this pattern next year.

 

 

Frugal Things I Did Last Week

21 Jan
This picture does not even begin to do justice to the GORGEOUS sunset we watched last week.

This picture does not even begin to do justice to the GORGEOUS sunset we watched the last week.

This week has been a tiring one.  I was up most of the night at the beginning of the week with Elijah (sick) and it took me days to recover.  Still I am thankful the week wasn’t a complete wash.  

My son drank something he shouldn’t in the middle of the night.  Before we took off for the ER I called the Poison Control (1-800-222-1222) and learned that it wouldn’t hurt him he would just throw up.  He did throw up quite a bunch but at least we avoided a trip to the ER.  He might have caught something worse and it was much more pleasant to care for him at our home.  I highly recommend putting poison control’s number in your phone and on your fridge.

The hubby & I went to a free seminar to hear Wayne Grudem speak.  We had a WONDERFUL time.  Afterwards we went to Starbucks and used a gift card I had received for being a guest teacher at Boyce College last year.  The hubby and I also went to a thrift shop together.  What a sweetheart!  😉

I made homemade Kombucha.  I actually make at least one batch of this every week but have forgotten to mention it.  🙂

I received a $25 gift certificate to Red Lobster after writing them a letter about an unpleasant experience we had.  (The food was awful.)  The hubby & I will have a great frugal date night in a couple of weeks.

I try to make one nicer type of dinner each week that I know the hubby will absolutely love.  😉  This week I made Lemon Garlic Shrimp Pasta.  It was delicious.  If you try it you may want to use a little less lemon.

I did not go to a regular grocery store this week.  (I’m trying so hard to switch to buying groceries only every other week.)  We just purchased some milk at the gas station.

I changed the furnace filter.  This really helps the furnace to run properly and save energy costs.  I also vacuumed all of our vents to make sure they were nice and clean.

My mom & I attended an estate sale together.  It was lots of fun!  I spent just 9.00 and came home with 20 patterns, tons of sewing notions, and a rake (for the garden).

I renewed library books & movies on-line to avoid a hefty fine.

We played outside a lot on the church’s playground (we live next door).   I also took a bunch of pictures while Elijah was playing.

I borrowed my mom’s carpet shampoo machine and cleaned all of the rugs in our home.  We have hardwood floors but LOVE rugs.  🙂  I saved $30 by not renting one.

I ordered a free subscription to Better Homes & Gardens.

I cut my son’s hair.  He wouldn’t let me trim around the ears so my mom was kind enough to help me out.

What frugal activities did you do last week?  

This Week’s Goals

21 Jan
I can't wait to spend lots of time this week playing with this little guy.

I can’t wait to spend lots of time this week playing with this little guy.

I thought it might be fun to share some of my goals for this week.  This idea was originally taken from moneysavingmom.com.  

This week’s goals:

Family/Marriage/Mothering Goals

1. Sprout bean seeds with Elijah in a paper towel.

2. Plan and enjoy a great at home date night for Brandon.

3. Continue teaching Elijah the story of Creation this week.

Personal Goals

4. Read As Silver Refined: Learning to Embrace Life’s Disappointments. 

5. Exercise at least three times.

6. Finish all Christmas thank-you notes!  (I found a list and realized I forgot to write a few.)

Homemaking Goals

7.  Make homemade Greek Yogurt.

8.   Spend two hours working on getting tax info together.  (I’m estimating it will take at least 5 hours to do this.)

9. Spend two hours cleaning the sewing room from top to bottom.

Business Goals

10. Sew two items for my Etsy shop that I hope to open soon.

11. Print more business cards.

Ministry Goals

12.  Attend a funeral for a friend’s Grandmother who passed away.

13.  Attend our church’s women’s retreat in Amish Country.

What goals do you have for this upcoming week?