Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk

 

I tend to think of myself as a fairly easy going person. In fact, on a weekend retreat for ladies from my church, we did a study on personalities. The one we did used 4 different personality types called Sanguine, Melancholy, Choleric, and Phlegmatic. Most people are high in one of these and a blend of the others mixed in. Well, I took the little test/survey and came out extremely high as a Phlegmatic. If you or someone you know is a Phlegmatic, these are some of the traits you may notice: peacemaker, avoids conflict, easy going, team player, gets along well with others, calm, serene, etc.                  As a Mom, I have actually been called “cool, calm, and collected,” and other such names. Sometimes I probably am those things, but most definitely NOT all the time. I was reminded of this the other day when a little incident occured at breakfast–someone spilled the milk. If you’re a parent, you know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s not always milk, it can be juice or any other beverage. For some reason it seems to always happen within hours after I have cleaned my floors. Compared to other things I have had to clean up over the last decade, milk really isn’t that big of a deal. However, and I really can’t explain why, this irks me to no end. I can be nice, loving, calm Mommy, but when that glass tips, I morph into someone I am quite ashamed of. There have been times when I have yelled so that they end up in a bout of tears over spilling something.(And I end up in tears over being such a meanie.) Several months back my husband accidentally spilled a huge glass of something at dinnertime right in front of all the kids. I have never seen 5 little heads swivel towards my direction so quickly! They were all waiting for me to explode, which is usually what I do when they spill something. Instead I kept my reaction to myself, giving my husband a bit of grace for a very unintended accident.

 

Now, back to this morning. Can you guess who spilled the milk? You guessed it–it was me. Luckily it didn’t happen in front of all the kids, but it did happen in front of my oldest two. One of them piped up, “Mom, YOU spilled it this time!” and then they both laughed at me. So, I cooly and calmly cleaned up my mess from a very unintended accident. And gave myself a bit of grace as well. A challenge for myself is to give my children grace when they do something unintentional. We all make mistakes, that’s why they call them accidents, right? Plus, there’s no use crying over spilled milk.

Free or Frugal Summer Activities

I can’t believe it’s that time of year again already. How in the world did another school year pass us by already? Unbelieveable! My twins’ preschool  just wrapped up, so I’ve gotten a bit more time with just my lil’ sidekicks. My older kids get out on June 10th and I am trying to prepare myself to have the whole clan here 24/7.  Not that I don’t adore my children, I’ve just gotten used to 3 of them being in school 5 days a week. Summer is a whole different ballgame altogether. So, in preparation, I am attempting to put together a list of things to do with my kiddos to keep them busy. Last week I posted my first giveaway, a cute little half-apron that I had made. The only stipulation for entering is that you had to tell me what a favorite fun, free, or frugal summertime activity your family enjoys. A big congrats to Erin Harper, who won the apron. She also happens to be my sweet neighbor! Here are some of the answers I received from participants:

*My favorite free activity is running.  I get to exercise my mind, body & soul while enjoying God’s beautiful creation!

*Our favorite free summer thing to do is go to the park and play in the creek. We spend hours looking for crayfish and salamanders and catching fish with our little nets ! It is also nice when its hot out because the water is cool !  Its so much fun and totally exhausting for the kids ! (My family actually did this yesterday with a group from cub scouts and they had an absolute blast.)

*Fav summertime activity is reading a book outside under the shade of my tree and eating picnics outside (I know I cheated and gave two but they are both my favorite!).

*My fav summer activity…..hmmm….just one??  I would have to say packing a picnic and going to a favorite spot like a park!!  There is something great about eating outdoors on a blanket!!!

Now, here is a list that I’ve compiled so far. All of these activities are either free or very inexpensive to do. Many are ones that we’ve actually done or are planning to do this year:

1. Go on a nature hike. Take along a magnifying glass, paper bag, jar,  maybe an identification book. Not only is it good exercise, but everyone learns a bit more about the world around them.

2. VBS! I don’t know many (if any) kids who don’t love going to a fun vacation Bible school. They play games, make crafts, have snacks, do memory verses, win prizes, and most importantly, learn about God.

3. Go to the library. You know that one’ s free! Many libraries offer story hours, workshops, craft times, and other free, educational activities throughout the summer. Last summer we participated in the Summer Reading Program and earned tons of free tickets to local attractions. Plus, cultivating a love of reading can’t be beat.

4. Visit different Farmer’s Markets or Flea Markets. Kids get to experience a variety of sights, sounds, smells, and tastes. (This one is near and dear to my heart–I worked at a farmer’s market stand and that is where I met my husband! He still manages a meats stand at a farmer’s market.)

5. Parks. National, State, or Local. Anywhere you live there is bound to be a park not too far away. Many have playgrounds, picnic areas, hiking trails, and so on. Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy a beautiful day out in nature.

6. Adopt a Project. A service project, that is. You need not look far to spot an opportunity to serve in some way. Find one that your family is passionate about and dive in.

7. Garden. I am not the best green thumb, but we have our kids help out at my in-laws’ garden and farm. They have helped plant, weed, pick, and then can or freeze the fruits of their labor. Did I also mention that they all (yes, all 5 of them) love most fruits and veggies? Another good option is to go berry picking.

8. Read. If it were up to my oldest 2, I think they could sit and read all day long. They are such bookworms, they even stand and read at the bus stop. Have your kids start a Book Club or read aloud a series together. A couple of years ago I had the joy of reading the entire “Little House” series to my kids and we actually just started reading it again. There are tons of options out there and it keeps those little minds active.

9. Start a collection. It could be almost anything, from rocks to shells to baseball cards.

10. Make your own Ice Cream. There are tons of make your own ice cream recipes out there, some that make an individual serving in a baggie. Kick it up a notch by having a Make Your Own Sundae Party afterwards with whatever ingredients/toppings you have on hand.

11. Write & Illustrate a Book. You’ve gotta keep those skills up! It’s amazing how quickly all that info they learn in school goes out the window once summer starts. It can be as simple as some lined paper stapled together with your child’s writing and pictures to go along with.

12. Scavenger Hunt. I have been known to write a list of things to find, give the kids a paper bag, and let them have at it. Usually mine are for outside but you can also do an indoor one on a rainy day. (If your kids are pre-readers, draw pictures of what they have to find.)

13. Watercolor Paint. Set up a table outside, give everyone their own set of paints, some water, and brushes. Make sure you have an area to dry their artwork!

14. Bubbles and Sidewalk Chalk.

15. Hit the Movie Theater. Many movie theaters around the country offer $1 matinee movies during the summer, usually on one or two particular days of the week.

16. Start a Business. Have your kids devise a business plan of some kind and have them give it a go. Right now my two older boys have a paper on our fridge with a plan for their S’mores business (S’mores donuts anyone?). It can be as simple as a lemonade stand or bake stand, but planning for supplies, production (or service), and pricing is good for those math skills. People skills too.

17. Build a Fort. This doesn’t have to involve wood and nails! It can be anything from sheets and pillows to old boxes. Give them recycled materials to make their own furnishings as well. Creativity is a good thing, even though it’s a bit messy. (I have to accept the fact that my house will NOT stay clean for any length of time for the next couple months.)

18. Game Night. No, not video games. Real board games and card games.

19. Campout. You don’t have to rent a camping space, though they are usually pretty cheap as well. Your own backyard or even your basement will do nicely. We have a little firepit in our backyard and our crew LOVES to make hot dogs or S’mores outside.

20. Trade Kids for a day. Put your heads together with a good friend or neighbor. Take their kids for a day at your house and have some organized activities, then trade and she can take yours for a day.

Half-Apron Giveaway!

My first ever giveaway as a blogger! I know many other blogs have giveaways, usually of products that they are promoting or endorsing in some way. I love to create and bring joy to others by giving gifts of things I have made. On and off  in the past year I have toyed with different apron designs. This is my most recent “prototype” and I happen to think it is quite darling.

My denim/patchwork half-apron.

 

A closer peek at the waistband.

This apron was made by yours truly, a very self-taught sewer. I used a dark-rinse denim for the apron body/ties and a mix of quilting squares by Moda Fabrics from their “It’s A Hoot” collection for the waistband and pocket.

So, my dears, if you like it too you have a chance to win (and hey–if you are the only one to read this and enter, you are the winner! 😉 ) Here are my rules: Enter a comment stating your name, e-mail address, and favorite frugal/free summertime activity. I will choose a winner on Friday and contact you and post the winner’s name and a list of everyone’s favorite free/frugal summertime activity for all to see. (I do have ulterior motives–coming up with ideas to do with my own family this summer.) Thanks for sharing and good luck!

A Drab to Fab Bistro Set Re-Do

 

The “Before” picture.

Welcome to my back deck, possibly one of my most favorite spots to put my feet up, watch the kids play, read, or just enjoy a cup of coffee. We are fortunate enough to have quite a large deck that runs the length of our house and faces our backyard and the surrounding woods.  Though we have a big patio table with benches (a $12 flea market find by my main squeeze), Adirondack chairs, and a wooden glider, we also have this metal Bistro set, given to me over 11 years ago. It was originally a marbled dark hunter green, a color that seemed ever so popular in the late 90’s, when I was first married. Since then it’s had a lot of use and was starting to show its age.

Getting a little worn, ready for some TLC by yours truly.

I definitely didn’t want to pay for a new set, especially since I have one sitting right there. I’ve been seeing some ads lately selling metal patio furniture that is red, which I find to be very appealing. So, with that in mind, I decided to get me some spray paint and give it a fab little update. Krylon spray paints have worked well for me in the past, so I decided on an Krylon Indoor/Outdoor Glossy Cherry Red color. We’ve been blesed by some gorgeous sunny days here, so I set up my spray paint operation in my gravel driveway. To my neighbors–I apologize if that section of our driveway looks like the scene of a violent crime. No crime, just me getting a little crazy with the red spray paint!

The "After" picture.

As you can see, I now have a glossy red bistro set perched on my deck. I kinda like the red, I think it gave the set a bit of spunk. My @$5 quickie update.

Need a seat?
A touch of yellow contrast.

Yikes! Seeing these pictures now reminds me how badly our deck needs restained. One more project for this summer…

A Mother’s Day Poem

 

In honor of Mother’s Day I am sharing this poem with you. I was given this poem on a Mother’s Day a few years back by an older lady in our church with the sweetest note attached. Since then I have shared it with others and turn back to it on days when I have felt  discouragement as a mother. Hopefully you are encouraged by it as well! 

 

 

Continue On

 

A woman once fretted over the usefulness

 

of her life. She feared she was wasting

 

her potential being a devoted wife and mother.

 

She wondered if the time and energy she invested

 

in her husband and children would make a difference.

 

 

 

At times she got discouraged because so

 

much of what she did seemed to go

 

unnoticed and unappreciated. “Is it worth it?”

 

she often wondered. “Is there something better

 

that I could be doing with my time?”

 

 

 

It was during these moments of questioning

 

that she heard the still, small voice

 

of her Heavenly Father speak to her heart:

 

“You are a wife and mother because that is

 

what I have called you to be. Much of what you do

 

is hidden from the public eye. But I notice.

 

Most of what you do is done without remuneration.

 

But I am your reward. Your husband cannot be the man

 

I have called him to be without your support. Your

 

influence upon him is greater than you think and

 

more powerful than you will ever know. I bless him

 

through your service and honor him through your love.

 

Your children are precious to Me. Even more

 

precious than they are to you. I have entrusted

 

them to your care to raise them for Me. What you

 

invest in them is an offering to Me.

 

 

 

You may never be in the public spotlight.

 

But your obedience shines as a bright light

 

before Me. Continue on. Remember

 

you are My servant. Do all to please Me.

 

Roy Lessin

Strawberry Rhubarb Pineapple Jam

Happy Birthday to me! That’s right, I turned the big 3-3 today.  In celebration, I just had to share a recipe with rhubarb in it and this is one of my faves. Why rhubarb? Well, for one, I happen to like rhubarb. The main reason is that my Mom was cutting rhubarb the day she had me and claims that her hands still smelled like rhubarb when I was born! Not one to break tradition, my daughter’s birthday is tomorrow and I was cutting rhubarb and making this very recipe the week she was born. To me rhubarb just HAS to be paired with something sweet and this jam does that quite well. So, even if you’re not a big rhubarb fan, I encourage you to give it a whirl. Who knows? You may find yourself liking rhubarb after all. I also have to mention, if you are a jelly or jam-making newbie, or are intimidated by the process, this recipe is SO easy. It is a freezer jam, so there is no processing involved. Yippee!

Strawberry Rhubarb Pineapple Jam

  • 5 cups chopped rhubarb
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 TB grated orange peel
  • 1 (8 oz) can crushed pineapple
  • 1 (3 oz) package strawberry jello

In a saucepan, combine rhubarb, sugar, peel, and pineapple. Mix and bring to a boil. Stir constantly for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool for 30 minutes. Stir jello into cooled mixture until dissolved. Ladle into 5- 8 oz. jars. Store in the freezer.

PS-This recipe is easy to double or triple. It also makes a great little gift!