Archive | May, 2013

April Reads

26 May

May 2013 001   I can’t believe I am just now sharing what I read the last month.  I guess I will just blame it on being pregnant and the fact that I was blessed to go on vacation twice.  🙂  

Journey to Joy: The Psalms of Ascent by Josh Moody.  This is the first book that I have ever read on the Psalms of Ascent and I must say I really enjoyed it.  One thing I really love about these Psalms is the fact that they tell it just like it is.  There is a wide variety of emotions seen throughout these psalms that everyone can relate to.  I loved Moody’s writing style because it didn’t come off as so intellectually deep that you didn’t want to read past the first chapter.  Instead I found myself asking myself questions as I learned so much by reading this book!

Real Snacks: Make Your Favorite Childhood Food Without All the Junk by Lara Ferroni.  I must say I really enjoyed browsing through this book.  The book definitely lives up to its name as it is full of recipes to make all sorts of “junk food” the healthy way.  I haven’t made any of the recipes yet so I can’t attest to their taste but I will say they look great.  A few of the recipes are a little to time intensive for me to tackle like homemade Goldfish but overall a very neat book.

While We’re Far Apart by Lynn Austin.  This was a delightful fiction book that I had a hard time putting down.  This book takes place during the War and chronicles 3 families whose lives intersect each other.  This was my first book by Austin but I will be sure to look for more of her books in the future.

The Guardian by Beverly Lewis.  Lewis is my favorite author when it comes to Amish Fiction and this book certainly did not disappoint.  Jodi is a young English schoolteacher who finds a young Amish girl all alone on the side of the road.  I don’t want to say too much else about the book to give anything away but this book was great!

Dick Raymond’s Gardening Year by Dick Raymond.  This is an excellent companion book to Raymond’s other book Joy of Gardening.  In this book Raymond walks you through what he does month by month throughout the year when it comes to gardening.  Although I grew up helping in our family garden I consider myself still pretty green when it comes to my own gardening knowledge.  This book along with Joy of Gardening have been my go to guides this year.

Do you have any book recommendations for me?  I’d love to hear what you are reading.  


Frugal Things I Did Last Week

25 May
We had a great time enjoying the new Reptile Exhibit at the Zoo.

We had a great time enjoying the new Reptile Exhibit at the Zoo.

We went to the zoo one day using our zoo pass which is going to expire at the end of the month.  It was lovely and we even packed a picnic.  We have a very nice sized cooler that fits conveniently in the bottom of our stroller.

I mended a bunch of Eli’s clothes including a bunch of underwear.  I don’t know how in the world he gets holes in them all the time.

Thankfully I was able to cook again this week.  It was a busy week for me but I used the Crock-Pot 3 times.  I even used it to make Tapioca one day for dessert.

I made this tote bag for my son this past week.  The outside has a pocket that holds 8 crayons.

I made this tote bag for my son this past week. The outside has a pocket that holds 8 crayons.

I sewed a small tote bag for Elijah that is very similar to the one I made for my cousin Anna.  I had all of the material on hand.  I let Eli choose between a couple of different fabrics that I had purchased on sale.  He chose a fun jungle print.  Thankfully I even had some webbing on hand.  I have made tote bags in the past and have used fabric for the handles but I really prefer the webbing.  The tote bag is a great size for a 3-year-old.  It holds a couple of toys, a book, and a snack.

We finally got to go kayaking again for the first time this year!  My husband & I both own kayaks so this is an almost free activity for us.  We usually kayak on a large local lake so our only expense is gas.  We always pack a cooler so we aren’t tempted to stop to buy drinks on the way home.  🙂  It’ll be interesting to see how far into the summer I will be able to kayak since I’m expecting.  I felt pretty wobbly getting in this time.  🙂

I canned strawberry jam using strawberries I had purchased for 1.00/pound.  This was my first time making strawberry jam and it was definitely a success.  The jam itself is also highly addictive!  I think we ate more peanut butter & jelly sandwiches this week because of it!

We have been keeping the windows open instead of running the air conditioner most days.

My sweet hubby picked up a book for me on Photoshop 11 from the library.  I have taken two 2 classes on Photoshop from our library but I really only know how to do a couple of things in the program.  One of my goals for this year is to learn how to take better photographs & edit them.  Does anyone have any tips on great free tutorials online?

Eli & I went to a street sale.  We had lots of fun together walking around the entire neighborhood.  I purchased a tablecloth, 2 maternity skirts, 3 dress shirts for Brandon in his exact size, a bassinett cover, a book for Eli that I hope to read aloud sometime next year, 2 vintage handkerchiefs  a pair of earrings, and a magnetic game for Eli.  I’m planning on purchasing a cheap cookie sheet and letting Eli play with magnets on our next road trip.  Has anyone tried this?

What frugal things did you do last week?  


18 Weeks

16 May
Our little "pumpkin" & I standing in front of the Old Mill along the Cades Cove Loop Road in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Our little “pumpkin” & I standing in front of the Old Mill along the Cades Cove Loop Road in the Great Smoky Mountains.

I thought it might be fun to share a little bit about my pregnancy this time around.  I’m totally copying this idea from my sister-in-law Renee who is also expecting.  Isn’t that fun?  🙂  

I’m just now starting to feel a little better.  We are so thankful for this pregnancy but it has been more challenging than we thought it would be.  (Not near as difficult in my opinion as when I was pregnant with Elijah though.)  I’ve had my fair share of morning sickness but I am so thankful that the throwing up is subsiding for the most part.  🙂  I lost a little bit of weight and have regained some of it.  I’m currently -4 pounds from my starting weight.  I have been concentrating on eating more fruits & vegetables.  I’m still not feeling most vegetables but I have been making Green Smoothies in order to get my veggies!  Brandon was horrified when he picked up a recipe for a Spinach Green Monster Smoothie today.  Ha, ha!  

Right now our baby is the size of a sweet potato.  I had a doctor’s appointment last week and again we were able to hear the heartbeat (155).   That NEVER gets old!  Brandon wasn’t able to go with me and I really wish I had recorded it for him.  One of the coolest things lately is the fact that our little pumpkin is really starting to move a lot!  I first felt the baby move while on vacation at about 16 weeks.  This week I have really noticed a lot of movement which is so fun.  It’s one of my favorite aspects of actually being pregnant!  

We have our 20 week ultrasound at the end of the month and have to make the difficult decision of whether or not we are going to peek.  I really want to be surprised at the birth but then I also want to spend the next 20 weeks sewing like crazy.  What to do?  Do you have any guesses?  



Frugal Things I Did Last Week

13 May
The Curling Iron/Flat Iron Case I sewed last week.

The Curling Iron/Flat Iron Case I sewed last week.


I sewed a mother’s day gift for my mother-in-law using materials I had on hand.  I made a Flat Iron/Curling Iron Case since she does a lot of traveling.  It is made out of special batting (Insul-Brite) so you can actually put your hair tools inside while it is still hot.  I thought it was a pretty neat idea.  I used this tutorial but I attached the bias tape differently than they did.  It was a little tricky but I was pleased with how it turned out.  I may have to invest in a walking foot if I sew another one.

I cooked!  I’ve been fairly nauseated this pregnancy so this is a big accomplishment for me.  I even cooked ground beef one night which is huge for me!  Along with cooking lunch & dinner most days I made Banana Muffins (to use up old bananas) and homemade CrockPot granola.

I received a book from PaperBack Swap that had been on my wish list.

Elijah & I made homemade Koolaid Playdoh one day when it was rainy.  He played with it for almost an hour!

We picked wildflowers to use as our table centerpiece this week.

I combined all of our errands into one morning to save time and gas.  It was tiring (I ran 8) but it was great to get them all out-of-the-way at once.

I hosted Mother’s Day brunch at our home on Mother’s Day right after church for 10 people.  I served: Fresh Fruit with Dip, Biscuit & Gravy Casserole, French Toast Apple Strata, Sausage Bake, Cinnabon Coffee Cake, and we had a Yogurt Bar with different toppings.  For drinks we had Water with lemons, Milk, Orange Juice, Coffee, & Homemade Starbucks Iced Cappuccino.  I think everyone had a really nice time.  I really enjoyed changing things up and serving brunch instead of lunch or dinner.  🙂

I watched a free newborn photography class from Creative Live.  Realistically I doubt I will feel well enough to take our new baby’s newborn photos but we’ll see.  I learned so much from the class.  I’m half tempted to borrow a baby doll and practice!  In case I’m not feeling well enough I would welcome a recommendation for a photographer in the area who has experience with newborns.

Elijah & I picked up a free small jar of paint from Lowes.  I had a craft project in mind for Eli’s room so I let him choose the color.  The man at Lowe’s was so kind that he let Elijah pick out whatever color he wanted.  Then he let him go behind the counter and watch the paint get mixed.  I think this was the highlight of Eli’s day!

My aunt came over and worked on our landscaping.  She gave us some perennials to fill in some of the bare spots and even planted them!  I can’t wait until they bloom.

I still haven’t been able to get my garden planted because it will not stop raining!  Does anyone have any advice for speeding up plant growth?  




Frugal Things I Did The Last Two Weeks

7 May
The lined tote bag I made for my cousin's 4th birthday.  The pocket on the outside holds 8 crayons.

The lined tote bag I made for my cousin’s 4th birthday. The pocket on the outside holds 8 crayons.

We just returned from a WONDERFUL vacation to the Smoky Mountains a couple days ago.  I took a break from technology while on vacation so I thought I would share things I did during the past 2 weeks.  Honestly we pretty much took a break from our “frugal ways” and splurged a lot while on vacation.  We saved up for our vacation and paid cash for everything.  🙂   

I made a nice tote bag for my cousin Anna’s 4th birthday.  It has a pocket on the outside for crayons and is lined (& padded).  It is small enough that she can actually carry it but large enough that it will hold enough toys for a day trip.  I was really pleased with how it turned out.  I hope to make Elijah one sometime this summer.

I went to lots of yard sales with my Mom one Saturday.  I don’t often get to go shopping with her so this was a real treat.  I found some really cute clothes for Eli, a maternity jacket for myself, and even a few baby items.  😉

I found the 3t/4t  summer clothes box for Elijah.  He always gets so excited when I get out of box of clothes.  Sometimes there are even toys inside!  I buy most of Elijah’s clothes at yard sales or thrift stores the year before he will be a certain size.  This summer I will be looking to buy clothes for this winter and next year.  This saves us LOTS of money and really helps us from having to purchase lots of clothing last minute when the weather changes.  Usually I notice a few gaps in what is in the box that I will fill in as needed.  I also found a pair of sandals in his box that fit him great but no gym shoes.  It’s really hard to find decent used little boy shoes at this age!

My aunt gave me a huge box of Pink Pull Ups and Little Swimmers.  I don’t care at all that the Pull Ups are pink and will let Eli sleep in them.  🙂  I am sending the Little Swimmers to keep at my parent’s house.  They have a pool and Eli often goes swimming when he visits.  (Since we swim a lot we use cloth swim diapers most of the time.)  My aunt also gave me a pink sled and a pair of snow boots which may or may not fit Eli next winter.  I will add the snow boots to Eli’s winter box.  If they don’t fit this winter then I will just give them to a friend.

My husband preached a revival at another church in the area.  Each night before the service they had dinner which we enjoyed. It was so nice not having to make dinner for four nights and a great way to fellowship with members of that church.

I received two free books to review in the mail this week.  I read one while on vacation and it was great!  🙂

We stayed at a Comfort Inn (Choice Hotels) for our vacation.  Usually when traveling this is our hotel of choice because as Farm Bureau Members we receive an excellent rate.  Our rate was about $15 cheaper per night than anything I found online.  Comfort Inn hotels are usually family friendly, have a great indoor pool, clean, quiet, and have a wonderful breakfast.  We ate breakfast every morning of vacation (except 1) at the hotel since the food was really good.  We chose to eat out for both lunch and dinner but I did split my food nearly every meal with Eli rather than purchase him a separate kid’s meal.  We also drank water (no stupid tax for us) when dining out.  For snacks we enjoyed fruit or homemade energy bites that I took with us.  We took a small cooler with us.  Each morning I packed it with snacks and drinks to enjoy throughout the day.

A friend passed along jeans that should fit Elijah this winter.

What frugal things did you do last week?