Handmade Christmas 2016: Fingerless Gloves


Howdy, and welcome back. I hope you have a chance to enjoy this gorgeous fall weather!

Fall is definitely here, so I thought it would be a perfect time to share this wonderful crochet pattern. I have been cranking out different pairs of these cute fingerless gloves as of late.


The pattern is not difficult, and I think that if you have a just a little bit of crochet experience, you could easily make these. It appealed to me because I am not an expert crocheter and am intimidated by making ones with fingers!

I found this pattern on Red Heart Yarn’s website, and it is free to access and print out.

They would make a super cute, stylish Christmas gift for a child, teen, or adult.


This particular pair is modeled by my 11 year old daughter, who has been wearing a purply pair of these that I made almost every morning to school!

These beauties don’t use up a ton of yarn, and take maybe 1 1/2-2 hours to make (depending on how many interruptions you have!). Once you make one pair, it’s easy to crochet up some more.


Great for chilly fall days and the approaching winter cold. The Red Heart website has tons of other cute glove patterns too!


How We Do Life

I think it’s fascinating how so very different each family is. Their traditions, their way of operating, and just the way they roll. It really got me thinking about how our family does life, how WE roll. Our family is not perfect. No family is. We have numerous flaws, oddities, and times we have to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and vow to do better. We’re all different….and that’s a good thing, isn’t it?

This is how we do life:

God is the center of our home. Everything revolves around that—our marriage, our parenting, everything else.

We say please and thank you. Even Mom and Dad do this, even with something as insignificant as passing the salt. Manners are important and show respect.

Family dinner is a high priority, and we always pray before we eat together. It’s just not the same when we all have to grab something and rush out the door, or when someone is missing. This is where we share about our day, the highs and lows, and just hang out for a time.

We expect good behavior. I am not a yeller–never have been, probably never will be. And no, I wasn’t really into “time outs” when the kids were little. There may have been an occasional swat on the backside when deliberate misbehavior happened. My kids aren’t angels, but they certainly aren’t brats either. I have no explanation for this, other than that they are just expected to behave!

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We love to read. Yes, all 7 of us. There is no secret technique or formula that we used when our kids were little, except that we read to them a lot and they saw us reading for pleasure. It caught on, and it warms my heart to see them all devouring books.

We try not to overschedule ourselves. This is such a balancing act once everyone gets to a certain age, and right now we’re in the thick of it. Each child is in at least one activity. However, we are deliberate about not being too busy and will say “no thanks” to things that will make for an overly hectic week.

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We have a minimum of technology in our house. Seven people, one laptop. No personal Ipads, Ipods, tablets or anything. (Our oldest did get a very basic cell phone for his 15th birthday.) They ask before they use the computer, and if playing games on it, a timer is usually set.

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We try not to be materialistic. We have learned to live on one income, and live well on it. Secondhand clothes are just fine by us, as well as older vehicles and a not-big house. Christmas and birthdays usually are simple. Things aren’t too important, but people are.


We serve others as best as we can. My husband is the prime example for this and is literally one of the most selfless people I’ve ever known. My parents are also great examples of this. I have become better at this as an adult (I think), but there’s always room for improvement. It is a joy to serve together, especially when it’s something the whole family can do.

Vacation and time away together is important to us. No, they are usually not fancy affairs, but that’s okay. We shoot for one week in the summer, just us, away from all of our usual stresses and things that pull for our attention. We’re not into overly crowded, “touristy” places. Give us a cabin in the middle of the woods somewhere and we are usually happy campers.

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We try to foster curiosity and a love for learning. I would label my husband and I as self-starters, or perhaps “self-motivated” people. We enjoy learning new things and encourage that in our kids. There is currently a continual pile of books on the couch, homemade contraptions or inventions in nearly every room, a plant cart in my living room, and a cricket farm and “lab” in my basement. No, our house is never picture perfect, but that’s okay with me. There’s a lot of love here and I’ll not squelch their innate curiosity. (Though too much clutter and mess does make me crazy.)

We are foodies. Kind of. My husband and I entered marriage in a unique situation—that is, we both knew how to cook. I do the majority of cooking during the week as I am the “at home” parent, and he does some meals on the weekends. We don’t eat out a whole lot as it gets wicked expensive for 7 people! Plus homemade is healthier. We have taught each kid various cooking skills, so hopefully they know how to fend for themselves once they grow up. As I’ve said before, to their future spouses: You’re Welcome.

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We try to be real. It’s interesting that my oldest, now in high school, is so very perceptive of “fake” people. I can’t stand it either, and hopefully I never come across that way. (You have permission to call me out on it if I do! Or slap me.) Like I said earlier, we are real. We are flawed. We are human.

Well folks, that’s how we do life around here. Each family has their own ways, and that’s cool. So now if you suspected that we were weird before, you got your confirmation by reading this!

Handmade Christmas 2016: Simple Sugar Hand Scrub

Welcome Back.

Today I am sharing another item that can easily be made for Christmas gifts to give to friends, teachers, neighbors, bus drivers, etc. Or you can make some for yourself!

The idea I have to share is for a simple Sugar Hand Scrub.


I can attest to the fact that this is an easy, inexpensive thing to make. It also works really, really well and makes your hands oh-so-soft. I gave these out as teacher gifts 2 years ago and they got rave reviews.


These only take two ingredients to make: white sugar and Dawn with Olay Hand Renewal (this now comes in a variety of scents).

Here’s the basic directions if you’d like to make some this holiday season:

Pick out a cute container to put your scrub in. I would recommend glass or plastic.

Fill container at least 1/2-3/4 full of the white sugar. Fill the rest of the way up with the Dawn Hand Renewal. Leave a little space at the top as you now need to mix these together without getting them all over the place! Stir up really, really well until sugar is thoroughly incorporated. Put your lid on and make a cute tag to attach to it. (I recommend just a short note saying that it does need to be stirred right before using. That sugar will tend to settle.) Then, voila! Done!


That was easy. Even if you are not crafty you can totally do this. I promise.

Handmade Christmas 2016: Button Bookmarks

Christmas gift ideas have started to pop into my mind already. If you know me well at all, you’ve likely heard me state that I can’t stand the over-commercialization of Christmas. I love the simplicity of a thoughtful handmade gift.

This fall I plan to share some of my old & new ideas for sweet little handmade gifts, beginning with these cute bookmarks. I originally shared these waaaay back in 2011 and it’s one of the most popular posts I’ve had since I’ve been blogging! They are perfect for avid readers, obviously, and especially ones who still appreciate a great paper copy.

Thinking of trying to make some  yourself? All the materials you’ll need are: fabric scraps, paperclip, button-cover kit, and hot glue/gun.

All it takes are a few simple steps:

1. Cut out a fabric circle approximately twice the diameter of the button cover.

2. Place the fabric printed side facing down in the button-cover mold.

3. Push the front half of the button rounded side down on top of the fabric.

4. Tuck the edges of the fabric into the center, and then press the button back into it until it is firmly encased.

5. Thread the paperclip through the shank of the button until the button rests at the top rounded edge.

6. Hot glue in place. I dabbed hot glue around the shank area and also where the edges of the button back rest on the paperclip.


Our Maine Adventure


This summer I fell in love.

Not with a person, but with a place.

Our family was finally able to visit Maine, and specifically Acadia National Park. It was something that had been on our bucket list for some time, but we decided to just go for it this year. I’m so glad we did!

Here are some of my photos taken while there:


First up is the little property we rented. I have had tremendous luck with the VRBO website and found an absolute beauty of a cottage for us. We walked in, looked around, and declared it perfect for our family.  This is the pond in back of the cottage, where we could sit and read or just relax. I have to say that the location of this place was wonderful—well away from Bar Harbor and crowds, on the very quiet side of the island.


Our first full day there we set out to see the Bass Harbor Lighthouse. To get a great view of it, you need to climb down some steps and make your way over on giant boulders that sit along the shore everywhere.


This is a view looking out the other direction. This trip was my first experience with this type of coastline, and I loved it.


Our favorite place to visit was a place called Wonderland. There is an easy trail that leads out to this coastal area that has lots of tide pools. We ended up visiting there a couple of times during our week at Maine.




Lots of cool little discoveries at this place and we spent hours there. Truly it was a “Wonderland” for my kids.


The next day we did a tour of the main part of Acadia. We drove the Park Loop road, which I highly recommend. There are many places to pull over and park along the way. We parked at the Otter Point area and hiked the Ocean Path a couple miles up to Thunder Hole.


Along the way were the Otter Cliffs, as well as many other scenic views. At many points you could go out to the edge, whether it be high up or down along the water.



We also drove up Cadillac Mountain, where you could see out far in all directions.


That evening we attended a lumberjack show, which was both educational and entertaining!


Our family usually enjoys the lesser-known spots and trails. Fortunately for us, we were on the side of the island away from the main crowded areas. It was still full of beautiful things to see and do! Above is a picture from serene Pretty Marsh Harbor.


I regret that I have no decent pictures from our whale watching excursion.(Those whales are just too darn fast for me!) This was an incredible experience! We saw many different whales and were VERY fortunate to see them in various stages of feeding. Lots of tail flukes, some full rolls, and one that did about a full breach for its rapt audience! Upon pulling back into the harbor, our guide was wowed and said that was the best trip they had all summer! An unforgettable experience for all.


One morning we visited the Oceanarium, which boasts a lobster hatchery and museum, among other things. At first glance it appears a little run down and ramshackle, but we had a good experience there and learned so much. The guides really took a lot of time to explain things to the kids.



Another morning we took the gang and hiked up a mountain. Parkman Mountain was one of the neatest hikes I’ve ever done. Though it’s not as well known as Precipice or the Beehive, it was really cool and worth the climb. (And yes, now I can say that I’ve done one with rungs built into the rocks to actually help climb up…it was just in one spot, but whatever. Bragging rights, y’all.) My husband was taken with all of the old cairns that marked some of the original trails. We saw cairns just about everywhere.


It was a great experience to conquer a mountain as a family. We had a picnic lunch at the summit to celebrate.


On our very last full day in Maine we hiked around Jordan Pond (which to me was more like a lake…). Part of it was on little boardwalks, as seen above.


The water that day was a gorgeous blue–my pictures do it no justice.

Some other places we visited were Echo Lake Beach, and my oldest and his Dad hiked Beech Mountain and the Beech Cliffs and said they were awesome.

Honestly, I think we could have stayed a couple of weeks there and still not have been able to do everything we wanted. That just means we have to go back one day…

Seriously, I very much fell in love with Maine and Acadia. It suited us so well and was one of our best vacations ever. If I didn’t love our little piece of Lancaster County so much, I would be very tempted to move!!

Hope you enjoyed my photos.


Dear Kids…

Today I am re-posting something that I wrote around this time last summer. My kids start school in just a week and I got to thinking about this little letter again. Reading it a year later, I echo every word of it once more.


Dear Daniel, Andrew, Heidi, Joey, and Josh,

Tomorrow you all will be heading off once again for a brand new school year!  I know you are ready to start back up, but may have some butterflies about it too. I know that I always did when I was your age.

As your dear old Mom, here are some things I’d like to tell you before I send you off to start your new grade. I know I’ve said lately that I’m excited for you all to get on that bus so I can have a little time by myself, and that is true. I do like a little time alone here at our house when it’s nice and quiet and everyone is at school. However, know that I do miss you all and am praying for you every time that bus picks you up. It’s like 5 pieces of my heart leave me and then return in the afternoon.

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Guys, I encourage you to do your absolute best while you’re at school. Each of you has been very blessed with the ability to learn things pretty easily and to usually do well on tests. Not every kid has that advantage, so don’t take it for granted. Help other kids as you are able and while it’s okay to be proud of a good grade (and you should be!), no one likes a bragger. Also, just because learning may come easier for you than some other kids, it is not an excuse to slack off. You are still called to do your best at whatever job you’ve been given, and right now that job is schoolwork.

Now, this is what I want you to know about your teachers. They are there to help you learn and be the best person you can be. Teaching is NOT an easy job, and you are to be kind and respectful to each teacher you have, even if they are not your favorite. From what I’ve seen, they really do want what’s best for their students and love all of the kids in their care. All teachers have tough days sometimes and I want you to help make their days a little brighter by being in their class.

With that being said, let’s talk about the other kids in your classes. Every kid is different, and I think you all already know that. Some kids are ones that are easy to be friends with. I used to gravitate towards those types of kids and stick with them. Other kids are not so easy to be friends with, or maybe they are difficult for the teachers and other grown-ups in the school.  Perhaps they are mean or rude or maybe even cry over silly things. Maybe it’s a kid that is dirty a lot or smells, or has other issues. Here’s the thing, guys—you just never know what that kid is dealing with at home. You all come from a pretty good household (I think!) and have two parents that dearly love you, take care of you, discipline you, and teach you about Jesus. Maybe you think every kid comes from a house like that, but they don’t.  Anymore a house like ours is a little rare. I just think that it’s important to remember that when a kid is maybe acting out or different in some way.  Please, please, be kind and show love to everyone, even if they are not especially likeable. Remember how much Jesus loves each of us, and maybe YOU are the person he is using to show that love to another kid.

Here’s another thing that ties in with what I just said: I want you guys to be a “little light” to everyone you meet at school. Dad and I think that you already have been, and we are so proud of you for that! Keep it up. I really do believe that God uses people in certain places and at certain times. For the last years and even now we think that we’ve been called to have our family be a part of the public school here. As I said before, not everyone comes from a family that believes like we do, but I want you to show them love as Jesus has commanded us to do. Maybe that means being a friend to someone who is shy, or holding a door for others, sharing a book, or inviting a kid that’s alone to play with you on the playground. You just never know what impact you’ll have on someone else.

Also, stand up for what you believe in. Our world is a little crazy right now, and sadly, it’s just going to get worse. That makes me worried for you as you grow up. This is part of what I pray about for you all the time. However, you have been taught what is right and what is wrong, and don’t be afraid to say and act on what you believe. I know you can do it!

I love you guys like crazy and will miss you. Have a great first day in your new grade!

Love, Mom


Rose Petal Jelly

One of the things I enjoy experimenting with in the summer is various types of jams and jellies. My favorite experiment was Wild Violet Jelly, which I posted about over 4 years ago! I’ve also made Dandelion Jelly, Apricot Pineapple Jam, Wineberry Jelly, and a whole host of others. Later today I plan to make Blackberry Jelly. My latest and greatest is this…..


Rose Petal Jelly. Pretty cool, eh?

It sounds rather sophisticated, but is really pretty easy to make, and not very time consuming. I’m not a sophisticated gal, so it suited me just fine. The recipe I will share made about 7 jars of jelly.


These are the ingredients I used:

@6 cups rose petals

4 cups water

1 TB lemon juice

1 box powdered pectin

5 1/2 cups sugar

Here is the process I followed:

Pick approximately 6 cups of rose petals. Lightly  rinse and place in a pot with a quart of water. Bring to a low boil and allow to bubble for maybe two minutes, then turn off the heat. Allow some time (maybe 20 minutes) for the rose petals to infuse the water. Strain off the rose petals and use the remaining rose water for the jelly.

In a heavy-bottomed pot, whisk the rose water with a box of powdered pectin. Add a tablespoon of lemon juice. (In a separate bowl, measure out 5 1/2 cups of sugar.) Bring your pot to a rolling boil, then dump in the sugar, stirring well as you add it. Make sure sugar is completely mixed in! Allow to boil for one minute, then remove from heat.

Have a separate pot of warm water ready for processing the jars. Ladle jelly mixture into jelly jars, leaving maybe 1/4″ of head space, then place new lids on with a band. Place into the pot with water. Bring to a low boil and allow to process for 5 minutes. Using a jar lifter, pull out of the water and allow to sit for 24 hours. Enjoy your beautiful jelly!


Creation Jar Terrarium


Today I am sharing an idea that I just pulled off this past weekend for our church VBS.

The theme was “Walk Thru the Old Testament,” which begins with Creation!

As usual, I was the craft lady, so I wanted everyone to take home something neat that would last. As my second-oldest has been enthralled with making terrariums, I had a light bulb moment one day that a “Creation Terrarium” would be cool.


It turned out to be a huge hit! As we had a different format this year and families did VBS together, both adults and kids had the opportunity to make one.


I incorporated different elements of Creation–animals, rocks, plants, soil…

Some kids placed little frogs in theirs and others put in small animals that I had available.


To pull this off for a group, I set it up like an assembly line. Here is the order in which I placed things:

  • plastic quart jar
  • gravel
  • potting soil
  • small fern (we used leather wood ferns)
  • moss (some foraged from our area and reindeer moss)
  • small animal
  • small rock
  • lid
  • twine or yarn, already cut
  • tag with markers to write their name on

I also put down brown roll paper on the tables to make for easy clean-up, which worked quite nicely!


Overall, I’m pretty pleased with how they turned out. Unfortunately I didn’t get good pics with my camera while this was going down:( The kids made some really neat ones, and they were all just a little different!

If you’re looking for a cool, non-junky VBS craft, this is a great option. A little more involved than what I usually have, but well worth it!!

Denim Pocket Rug


I have sorely neglected my blog lately. Too much end-of-the school-year craziness, followed by the annual adjustment to summer and kids being home 24/7. I apologize and will totally admit that I miss writing!

Also, I have not shown a single decent crafty project in a long , long while. Believe me, it’s not for lack of making things:)

One thing that I’ve totally been into is repurposing denim to make cool stuff. I will perhaps share one or more denim projects in the near future. Here’s one that I found to make with all the pockets of jeans I’ve cut up and basically deconstructed.


A sturdy little accent rug. I saw an example or two on Pinterest and decided to try a small one to see if I liked it or not.

I did not do any step-by-step pictures, but I can give a brief rundown of how it was made. Basically I took a rectangle of denim, then took a variety of pockets that had already been cut out and arranged them randomly all over the rectangle. I pinned each one down to hold them in place.


Then I took my handy dandy heavy duty Singer and began carefully sewing around the edge of each pocket. I tried to do all of the “top” pieces first, then went around what is visible of the ones that are more underneath. (Hopefully that makes sense?) Once they were all secure, I took a slightly larger rectangle of denim and sewed it so it is underneath and peeking out behind the original rectangle, just stitching around the perimeter.


All in all, this didn’t really take that long to make. The prep of cutting all the denim is what actually takes more time. I would recommend definitely using a heavy duty needle, plus a heavier model sewing machine for this kind of project.


Before use, I would also pop some Rug Gripper on the back so it doesn’t slide.

Overall, a unique little rug that is casual, country, and cool.