Archive | January, 2013

12 Books I Plan to Read This Year

20 Jan
I'm also hoping to re-read a bunch of journals.

I’m also hoping to re-read a bunch of my own personal journals.

I always seem to have a continuous list of books that I want to read.  This year I decided to list some of the books that I plan to read.  🙂  Each month I usually post a list of books that I have read in the past month.  I also keep a running tally of books on my Pintrest board that I want to read and books that I have read.  You can see a list of books I read in 2012 here and a list for 2011 here.  You can also search for the word “Reads” to see a list of books I have read & reviewed in the past.

Comfort from Romans by Elyse Fitzpatrick

Raising Real Men: Surviving, Teaching, & Appreciating Boys by Hal & Melanie Young.

A Pocketful of Pinecones: Nature Study with the Gentle Art of Learning by Karen Andreola

Trim, Healthy, Mama by Serene Allison & Pearl Barrett

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child by Anthony Esolen

Young House Love: 243 Ways to Paint, Craft, Update, & Show Your Home Some Love by Sherry & John Petersik

The God Empowered Wife: How Strong Women Can Help Their Husbands Become Godly Leaders by K.B. Haught

The 7 Myths of Working Women: Why Children and (Most) Careers Don’t Mix by Suzanne Venker

Unpacking Forgiveness: Biblical Answers for Complex Questions & Deep Wounds by Chris Brauns

The Backyard Homestead by Carleen Madagan

The Unquenchable Flame: Discovering the Heart of the Reformation by Michael Reeves & Mark Dever

What books are you planning to read this year?  

Elijah’s New Robe: Take Two on Simplicity 3584

17 Jan
Elijah was so pleased with his new robe.

Elijah was so pleased with his new robe.

My little boy has been busy growing taller and taller.  All of a sudden none of his clothes fit including his flannel bath robe I made last year.  Time to break out the sewing machine and get to work!  Not really sure if I would call it work or not since Elijah is just about my favorite person to sew for.  😉

I made my own loops and added them to the robe.

I made my own loops and added them to the robe.

I used Simplicity 3584 and made a straight size 3 with no alterations.  I considered adding a 3″ hem that could be let down like I did last year but I figured that by the time Elijah was that much taller he would really need a bigger size.  I used an adorable blue farmyard print for the outside and the same farmyard print in green for the inside.  The flannel fabric has to be some of my favorite I have ever seen for a little boy!  I made almost the same changes to the pattern that I made last year.  I lined the entire robe by cutting out all of the pattern pieces again (except the pocket) out of the inside fabric.  Then I laid the lining pieces wrong sides together against the outside fabric.

I sewed the belt onto the back of the robe at the center back.

I sewed the belt onto the back of the robe at the center back.

The pattern called for the belt and loops to be made out of bias tape.  Unless you are really a beginner when it comes to sewing I would advise against this.  I really think that would look tacky.   To make the ties I cut 2 pieces of fabric 3X30″.  I sewed the two pieces together to make one large strip.  Sew a tube, inside it out and press.  (If you follow my notes and make the ties you will only need 1 package of bias tape.)  I also skipped using bias tape to finish the sleeves.  I also made Loops which measured 2 1/4 X 3/4 when finished.  Unlike the instructions I sewed them on very last and placed them right along the finished side seam.

If you are looking for a baby bath robe up to size 18-24 months I would recommend Simplicity 3711.)

Sweet boy & another sweet memory for this mama.

Sweet boy & another sweet memory for this mama.

I made lots of changes to this pattern but was very pleased with the final result.  Sewing robes for Elijah might just be a lasting tradition in our home.  🙂  I have a feeling I will be sewing another one next winter.


Frugal Things I Did Last Week

16 Jan
The little man & I had a great time playing at our house this week.

The little man & I had a great time playing at our house this week.

I took a free Photoshop class from the local library.  My sister was kind enough to watch Eli since I had to work.  I learned so much!  Now I just need to find a good deal so I can buy Photoshop.  Any suggestions?

We went to Sam’s Club for their free health screenings which included BMI, glucose, cholesterol, and vision ($100 value each).  Brandon also received a free hearing test.  (When Eli had one done last year it cost well over $100 with insurance.)  We also received free samples of Pedia Sure, Children’s Advil, Vitamins, & Dog Treats not to mention all of the food samples Elijah ate.  😉

I had my aunt and cousin over for a play-date.  I served Tomato Bisque, sandwiches, and oranges.  We also made Snow Paint for a fun craft activity.  I used some of the hubby’s shaving cream and part of a bottle of glue purchased in August.  Eli ended up painting his arms with it so I’m not sure if we will make it for a while.  😉

I made a t-shirt necklace out of an old t-shirt my mom gave me.  I think the shirt belonged to my brother.  He was really thrilled when he saw the necklace.  🙂  I watched this video.

My favorite Valentine's Day Decor: A Simple Banner I handstitched.

My favorite Valentine’s Day Decor: A Simple Banner I hand stitched.

I sewed myself a sweater using knit remnant fabric and a pattern I bought on sale.  The entire project cost less than $5.

I spent some time doing research on my garden for this year.

The hubby and I had a nice at-home date.  We made Root Beer Floats and just sat and talked. (Every girl’s dream right?)  We also borrowed a friend’s Gotta Dance for the Wii and had a dance off.  😉  Brandon beat me bad.  🙂  I’m a firm believer in the fact that you don’t have to go out on a fancy date night every week to have a great marriage.

My Aunt’s birthday was last week so I baked her Chocolate Zucchini Bread (in a bundt pan so it looked fancy).  The zucchini was from our garden last year.  I also gave her a card purchased at the Dollar Store.

I purchased a replacement laptop cord from for $8 (including shipping).

I hung up Valentine Decor that I had made: a wreath, a LOVE garland, and a hand-stitched felt banner.

Our Valentine's Day Wreath

Our Valentine’s Day Wreath

I cleaned scrubbed our fridge from top to bottom.  I rearranged the shelves in an attempt for things not to get lost in the back.  I also purchased a $3 basket from Dollar General to store condiments and salad fixings.  That way we can just pull the basket out for lunch.  I am tempted to add these cute labels to the bins.

Eli wore free diaper samples overnight a couple of nights this week.  (He still sleeps in a diaper at night.)

I took a Water Aerobics class at our gym.  (My husband is a pastor and the gym gives us a great discount on a membership.)  Afterwards I ran all of my errands for the week.

I made dinner for a dozen youth & college students at our church for only $18.

I purchased 6 educational books for Elijah at the thrift store for $2.  Each book is about a different letter of the alphabet.  We save tons of money by not sending him to preschool or an expensive play group.

My mom gave us a ham which we froze.

I’m super impressed by my hubby’s frugal accomplishment this week.   He went to the Christian bookstore where they were having a fill a bag sale for $10.  He stuffed and stuffed and was able to buy 7 brand new books for $10!  Two of the books were on our wish list.  As I’ve mentioned before he is a pastor and we buy A LOT of books.

I received a free wipes container (& wipes) in the mail.  I also received baby coupons & a newborn diaper that I will be passing on to an expecting friend.

November & December Reads

15 Jan
I love reading.

I love reading.


Grace Transforming by Phil Ryken:  As someone who tends to be a bit performance-driven I found this book so helpful.  It really isn’t about what we do but instead it is all about Jesus and what He has done for us.  Phil Ryken is the president at Wheaton College-a college known for producing great Christians such as Billy Graham and Jim & Elisabeth Elliot.  The book itself is very small and only about 100 pages.  I personally love little books as they are great to carry around in my purse.  This book would also be perfect for the person  who is easily intimidated by the average theological book.  Although I would claim this book is filled with great theology I wouldn’t call it a theological book.  It’s really a simple book that it’s all about what Christ has done for us and not what we have accomplished.  Excellent!  One I hope to revisit in the future.

The Air We Breathe by Christa Parrish: This book is about a 17-year-old girl whose life is ruled by fear.  Although she wants to break free from her past she is held back until a former friend finds her again six years later.  The only thing I disliked about the book was how it switched back and forth in time and with chapters involving three different characters.  It was definitely confusing for the first couple of chapters.  Overall I really liked this book and look forward to reading other books by Parrish (this was my first).

What Your Husband Isn’t Telling You by David Murrow.  I should have known by this book’s title that it wouldn’t be one of my favorites.  Although he does make some good points he is completely off base in other areas.  Way off base!  I discussed parts of the book with my husband and he agreed this book is crazy.  I would not recommend this book at all!  Please note I did receive a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers.  

Past Darkness by Laurel Woiwode: Hands down this was my favorite book I read in the past couple of months.  It chronicles the life of fifteen year old Chicago native Gabrielle Larson who is forced to relocate to rural North Dakota when tragedy strikes.  The book follows her as she learns to cope with the various trials that come her way.  I really enjoy reading fiction and usually read Christian fiction (in order to avoid anything spicy).  This book was refreshingly unlike most “Christian Fiction” books you will find at the bookstore.  It is not preachy or tacky in any sense.  If you enjoy reading fiction I highly commend this book to you!  Please note I did receive an advanced reader copy in exchange for my review from Crossway.  Unfortunately it won’t be released until April but it is available for pre-order.  I cannot wait to read more works from this author!

Rocks, Dirt, Worms & Weeds: A Fun User-Friendly, Illustrated Guide to Creating A Vegetable or Flower Garden with Your Kids by Jeff Hutton.  When I came home with a stack of books from the library a couple of weeks ago this was the book I was looking forward to reading the most.  It was also the biggest disappointment!  The title is catchy but the information throughout the books makes me wonder if the author has ever planted a realistic garden with his kids.  I’d pass on this one!

Dirt Cheap Gardening: Hundreds of Ways to Save Money in Your Garden by Rhonda Massingham Hart.  This book was such a welcomed respite after reading the previous book.  It was really good and did exactly as the title says-provide lots of ideas on saving money in your garden.  The book also includes helpful lists in the first few chapters about plants and various growing conditions.  There are a number of ideas in this book that apply to landscaping, and flowers.  I’m hoping to grow a large variety of flowers in my garden this year.

The Sound Mind Investing Handbook by Austin Pryor.  I have always felt that I am clueless when it comes to investing and planning for retirement.  This book was incredibly helpful for me and I was so thankful that my hubby bought it for me.  (I shared the highlights with him.)  I really appreciated the author’s Christian perspective on managing your money from a biblical perspective.  The book is very well researched and laid out.  It answered a number of questions that both Brandon & I had about money.

50 Ways to Master Your Sewing Machine by Linda Denner.  Although dated (the book is 17 years old) it holds a wealth of information that is still relevant today.  It was packed full of helpful hints.  I learned so much and I have been sewing regularly for 15 years!  My biggest take away was the encouragement to really use all of the features that my machine has.

I’m still working on my list of books to read this year and would love your suggestions!  

Sew a Pocket Apron: Simplicity 2272 Review

11 Jan
I love the fun look of View C.

I love the fun look of View C.

While I have been cleaning and organizing my sewing room, I ran across a box of fabric with some fun winter prints.  I love snowflakes, snowmen, and aprons so I thought I would combine all three into a lovely project!  I found Simplicity 2272 in my stash and knew at once I was going to try my hand at view C.  It was very simple.

The one major mistake I made was getting confused about whether the contrast would be on the outside or the inside (it is on the outside).  I ended up switching the fabrics from where I wanted them to be but it still turned out nice I think.  Piece 7 is the Inside of the Apron and Piece 8 is actually the overlay contrast piece.

I only made one change to this pattern.  I skipped the outside rick rack for step four because I ran out!  I never just run out to the store when I run out of something I just make do.  😉  Instead of trimming seams I serged them.  I also serged the top of the waistband in step 7 and then folded it down 1.5″.  I did not slip stitch the waistband in step 13.  (I dislike slip-stitching by hand.)

Now I'm already to whip up some homemade hot chocolate and a plate of cookies after sledding!

Now I’m already to whip up some homemade hot chocolate and a plate of cookies after sledding!

My only complaint about this project was the sizing of the apron.  I made a size Large (18-20) but in my opinion this size would be more like a (12-14).  If you are looking for a nice plus size pattern I would recommend McCall 5720.  It has been my go-to pattern for years.

Overall this was a great pattern that was a cinch to whip up.  It would be great for a last-minute housewarming or bridal shower gift.

Frugal Things I Did Last Week

10 Jan
The delicious mixed berry sauce I made.

The delicious mixed berry sauce I made.

I made a fruit sauce topping for pancakes that keeps for a couple of weeks.  We enjoyed it over leftover pancakes and in plain yogurt.

I bought the hubby some indexes with tabs that he uses for work from  They were half price and they were delivered right to our door!

I printed free Thank You cards for Elijah to send for Christmas gifts from here. 

I turned a red flannel shirt into a bolster pillow.  The shirt was given to me by my mom and I had stuffing on hand that I stuffed it with.  It has a nice rugged man look to it so I ended up giving it to my brother.  I also cut all of the buttons off of the shirt but they ended up getting spilled and I think my little helper vacuumed most of them up.  Oh well!  I do need some sort of better storage for the buttons that I cut off of shirts.  I’m thinking it would probably be worth investing in some tiny bags with a zipper.  If I cut buttons off of a shirt I really want to keep them all together in one place verses throwing them in a jar.

I printed cute New Year’s Eve decorations and even little covers for Tick-Tacks.

I made homemade Auntie Ann pretzels when my sisters came over to hang out.  One sister even helped me make them!  This is my second time making them and I am definitely getting the hang of it.  😉  I’m thinking I may try to make them for the young adults at our church sometime soon.

I also made popcorn as a snack another night.  Popcorn is a fast, easy, inexpensive snack!  I purchase our popcorn at a bulk foods store and pop it in a popper.  (I can’t stand microwave popcorn.)  Did you know you can even make it without a popcorn popper?  One of our favorite ways to eat popcorn is Peanut Butter Popcorn.

My mom has been cleaning out her basement.  Yeah for me!  😉  She gave me some fabric (cotton and some nylon tricot-perfect for making a slip!), a beautiful set of embroidered pillowcases that my great-grandmother made,  and four hardcover sewing books.

We received samples in the mail!  (I love samples!)  I received a five-day trial of Loreal Moisturizer.  This should be enough to last me all through the winter!  We also received Probiotic Gummies, and coffee.

I used my Cricut and blue vinyl I had on hand to cut out a sailboat for Eli’s room.  (I purchased the vinyl from vinyl expressions off of amazon.)  It is right above his toddler bed.  I am also planning to add the word “Elijah” across the boat.  I just haven’t been able to get the font to my liking yet.

I made chocolate zucchini bread.  It is delicious but much more like a dessert!  😉  We have LOTS of zucchini in our freezer that I would like to use up in the next couple of months.

We had the tires on our car rotated for free at Tire Discounters. We always purchase our tires at this store since they offer a free alignment when you purchase them and free alignment every 5,000 miles.  They also give a warranty that your tires will last as long as they are supposed to if you are faithful to get them rotated often.   They also commonly catch repairs that need to be made in the future which I find very helpful.

I used a coupon to get the oil in the van changed for 19.99.  (Actually this should fall under Brandon’s list of frugal accomplishments since he took the van for me.)

I returned a bunch of sewing notions that I didn’t end up needing to Hancock Fabrics.  I always check the remnant rack when I am there and came home with fabric to make gifts.  They also have their fleece remnants on sale for $1.25/yard.  (This is super cheap!)

I made a baby shower gift using fabric I had purchased the day after Thanksgiving.

What frugal things did you do last week? 

Rice Cooker Mac n Cheese

4 Jan
Easy Homemade Macaroni & Cheese

Easy Homemade Macaroni & Cheese

My hubby LOVES macaroni & cheese.  Really I think he is just a big kid at heart!  We are spoiled rotten in the fact that we get to have lunch together almost every day!  Macaroni & cheese is probably his most requested meal.  We do occasionally eat boxed mac & cheese but I try to make this simple recipe instead.   There are no preservatives and I can tweak the ingredients to make them even healthier.  You actually cook the macaroni in a rice cooker!  It is beyond easy and contains only 4 ingredients.  😉

In a rice cooker combine:

  • 1 cup Chicken Broth (I use 1 cup water and 2 t. chicken broth powder)
  • 1 c. uncooked pasta.  It doesn’t even have to be macaroni!

Turn on the rice cooker and allow this to cook.  It usually takes my rice cooker about 20 minutes which is the perfect amount of time for lunch preparations.  🙂  (Be careful not to leave the cooked macaroni sitting for a long time or it might burn on the bottom.)

After the macaroni is cooked add 1/4 cup milk and 1 cup shredded cheese.  Allow it to sit for about 5 minutes and serve.  I like to place the lid back on so that the cheese can melt quickly.  Enjoy!