Parenting Tales, Points to Ponder

What I’m Into: July 2015

This summer has been a weird one, but here’s what our family has been into this past month or so:

*Granite Flats. We happened upon this on Netflix in late June and decided to watch the first episode one night as a family. My kids were immediately hooked! They have since worked their way through the first three seasons. It is about a group of kid detectives in the Cold War era. Granite Flats is a very clean show, which is definitely refreshing for this Mama. WAY too many things out there that are not fit for consumption!

*Reorganizing our house. We started with our kids’ rooms and are working our way through the rest of the place–our basement and garage definitely need it!! Some Ikea shelving, like these cubby systems pictured above, have worked wonders in the kid bedrooms and corral all their clothes, books, and other stuff. They eliminated the need for dressers, which I was more than happy to ditch. (Actually, they have been repurposed for storage in the basement.)

*The Redwall series of books by Brian Jacques. Though my older boys discovered this series a few years ago, my younger ones have started to enjoy them just this year, along with my daughter. I have read a few and like them as well. One nice thing about this series is that you don’t have to read them in order. Each one stands on its own and has its own set of characters.

*Veggies! Our garden has done well and we have eaten many a meal from it. Having so much fresh produce available is such a blessing.

*Camp, camp, and more camp. Everyone has now attended camp this summer and they all really love it. My oldest son has even worked at a nearby summer camp for the first time. He just turned 14, so this year it is a volunteer job, but next year he would be a paid employee. I can’t tell you how great of an experience it is been for this kid. (Plus he now has a very cool nickname given to him by co-workers. Bond, since he shares a name with the most recent James Bond actor. I think he is quite proud of it.)

For those of you who have reservations about sending kids to camp, I will tell you from our experience that it is SO worth it.

My daughter sitting in on a Bible lesson at her camp.

Well, that’s it for now. Hope your summer has been a refreshing one!

Rachel

Points to Ponder

Last Week’s Frugal Accomplishments + A God Story

My life has been a little topsy turvy lately, so I am way off in sharing what I call my “frugal accomplishments.”

It has been one heck of an expensive year for this family, all with unforeseen crazy things that have cropped up. Therefore, instead of despairing, I am trying to be thankful that we have been careful with finances and have some savings to cover unexpected expenses.

So, in keeping with my frugal mindset more than ever, here are the latest money saving things to happen here….

*Had several people bless & surprise us with meals right after Jeff’s accident. (If you are one of those people, thank you!!)

*I’ve been able to hang out laundry most days.

*I keep washing out ziploc bags, drying them, and reusing them, as long as they are in good shape. (Not any that contain meat products–I do throw those out right away.)

photo (20)

*I found these cool vintage burlap feed sacks at a yard sale for pretty cheap. I would love to try using them in some projects and plan to start with re-covering a stool top with the design portion of one of them.

*Haven’t had to do any big grocery runs in a couple of weeks.

*We have picked beets, sweet corn, onions, cucumbers, squash, blueberries, and green beans out of our garden. I blanched and froze many, many bags of the beans this past weekend. I also froze some blueberries.

*My boys foraged around for some wineberries last week. We ate some and the rest I made into jelly. I had also made some black raspberry jelly a couple weeks back, plus some black raspberry/grape blend jelly. Yum.

rag rug 013

*Sold this rag rug that I had made on Ebay.

*Before his accident, my husband brought me a really nice Pampered Chef glass baking dish with a snap-on lid. It had been sitting around his work lunch area for awhile with no one to claim it, so it was free to a good home!

*Used zucchini from the garden to make Chocolate Zucchini bread. It was the bomb.

*This probably sounds awful, but since my oldest has been working and mostly living at a camp, I haven’t had to feed him much or do his laundry (they make him do his own wash there, so thank you camp people!) this summer. Seriously, with how much he eats, it’s like they’re paying me;)

*Speaking of my oldest son, he is headed to a camp in Virginia next week that is offering a “Mountain Man” outpost. He doesn’t need to pack that much, but needed a couple of specific items to wear. I scored two pairs of Carhartt beige work pants for an amazing $9.99 each off of a clearance rack. That’s like an absolute steal for Carhartt products (local people, FYI, it was at Good’s store). Then my husband took him to Outback Trading to find a certain style of hat for this Mountain man thing. I am proud to say that they found a really cool one that is perfect for only $8 (normally probably a $40-$50 hat!!) on a clearance rack.

And last but not least…..

*Not really a frugal accomplishment per se, but a testimony to how awesome God works–this is what happened just yesterday. We had had another bill roll in from the dentist for two root canals Jeff had to have like two weeks before his incident. (As if the poor guy has not been tortured enough lately, yowza!) Within a couple of days, we had 3 different reimbursement checks show up for things him or I had paid for at work or church lately. Y’all, this is SO cool–without thinking, I added up the amount from the reimbursement checks and it was literally the SAME amount as the bill from the dentist, plus 9 cents to spare. I could have cried. God is good. They were cashed and taken directly to the dentist.

Thanks for stopping in! Hope your summer is going well.

Rachel

Parenting Tales, Points to Ponder

What I’m Into: June 2015

Hey hey everyone!

Here is this month’s installment of “What I’m Into,” where I share what either myself or my family is into lately:

*Flip flops. My favorite summer wardrobe staple! Barefoot is always great too:)

Try not to faint with surprise, but I bought a brand spanking new pair of flip flops from LL Bean in this cute orange and white gingham design. (Hey, I had a coupon!) I have had several pairs of theirs over the years and they hold up forever, plus are super comfy for walking in.

*

*Julie of the Wolves. This is our read aloud book at the current moment. I used to love all of the survival tales (Hatchet, Island of the Blue Dolphins, My side of the Mountain, etc) and this is one that I am now sharing with my kids.

*

*Tri Bond. We inherited a copy of this game from somewhere and just started to get into it. Some questions are easy, others you really have to think about. A nice spin on trivia games.

*Iced tea, iced coffee...basically any of my favorite caffeine in iced form on especially hot days.

*Ice cream. Unfortunately, this is my personal kryptonite, especially in the warmer months. Can. Not. Resist….

*Our garden. Many of you know we do a huge garden every year over at my in-laws’ farm, and this year’s is no exception. A lot of work, but we love getting fresh veggies out of it all the time.

*Skirts and sundresses. I don’t own many shorts anymore and have taken to skirts and comfy sundresses quite a bit. This is because a) skirts are more comfortable to me and b) I think I look terrible in shorts. Personal opinion.

*A clearer schedule. Hasn’t happened much yet in the week since school finished up, but next week and beyond look much MUCH better!! Yay!!!

Points to Ponder

This Week’s Frugal Accomplishments

Today I am launching a new set of *hopefully* regular posts entitled “Frugal Accomplishments.”

If you know me in real life, you may have picked up on the fact that I like to live fairly frugally. I don’t think I was always this way, but as our family grew, I have learned to run this house in a frugal and practical way. Sure, I think we live modestly as far as the “big things” are concerned–we both drive older vehicles, our house is not big and fancy, etc, etc. However, I like to think that saving and living simply with the “small things” do add up in the long run. I am very inspired by other people who make things work by raising families on a modest income and LOVE to hear the little ways they save. So, in turn, hopefully I can perhaps inspire you in some small way by sharing what I do on a weekly basis to save us some cash.

(I totally copied this idea from The Prudent Homemaker, who does this as a weekly post. I love reading what she does for her family.)

Here’s a few things that I did last week:

*With some nice sunny days I was able to line dry many loads of laundry and not run our dryer.

vocab parade,pj's, leaves 027

(Weird but true fact about me: I rather enjoy doing laundry and love hanging it out to dry. It makes my heart happy.)

*I sold a few items on Ebay. An old Michael Jordan jersey, which I found in a bag of free-to-us boy clothes, brought way more than I expected. Sweet!!

*I went to a couple of yard sales on Friday. I scored a pair of kid snow pants for next year, a dressy shirt for Andrew, and a hooded sweatshirt for Heidi for a couple bucks. I also got a pair of knitting needles and some vintage quilt squares for free. I was just asking what the price was and the lady very much insisted that I just take them!

*Though it wasn’t directly for my own kids, I was able to easily alter a couple dresses for my brother’s girls so they can wear them this summer.

*Instead of doing a store run, I hit up my closet “gift stash” to provide a birthday gift for a party my daughter attended.

*We watched a few things on Netflix.

*With some coupon dollars, I was able to save a whopping $20 on a new backpack for my latest birthday boy. We have always bought LL Bean brand packs and they hold up for MANY years. He has had the same one all through elementary school and is now in 6th grade. This is the one he picked out–here’s to hoping it lasts through the next 6 years!!

91UBFC9wd2L._UX385_

*We planted part of our garden on Saturday. That day we did 3 types of potatoes, green beans, and a little bit of sweet corn. Peas, onions, and a couple of other things had already been planted.

*I cut some early spring flowers from our beds outside the house and used them for decoration inside. There’s just something about fresh flowers!

Well, that was a sampling of some of the things I do. Stay tuned for more!

Have a blessed week.

Rachel

Craft/DIY Ideas, Parenting Tales

Spring 2014 in Pictures

Since I haven’t been on here all that much, I figured I’d give a little peek into what we’ve been up to these days. For the last few years the April to mid-June time is always heaped full of extra activities. It seems as if every field trip, campout, concert, and various other things are squeezed into that time when the weather is getting nicer and before school ends. Oh yeah, and our family has a boatload of spring birthdays tucked in there as well as Easter and Mother’s Day.

Here’s a mini-synopsis of just some things going on in our family this Spring:

download (2)

One of my many joys has been to lead a women’s Bible study at our church. I very much felt led to do a study on Nehemiah by Kelly Minter. It is a GREAT study that I would highly recommend! I could do a whole big blog post just on what I learned through this series.

923217_10203739930368503_202961628246627613_n

One week I finally decided to paint my kitchen this pretty blue. I had had the same light green for something like ten years and was ready for a change. I really love it. The antique embroidery is something I found in a thrift store within a broken frame. I placed it in a newer frame and it looks pretty good with the blue walls.

photo

To update my newly painted kitchen I sewed up a new valance and a set of burlap panels with red and white gingham accents and ruffles. This photo is when I was getting some final touches ready to sew on. You can see the pins if you look closely.

photo

This is a precious picture from one of my kids’ birthdays. I have the privilege of having my daughter’s birthday the day right after mine. It is fun to celebrate them together every year!

10273504_10203922422770699_4852132127186639143_n

Due to wacky weather, our garden planting was very late this year as opposed to other years. We didn’t even bother planting peas as it got too late.

10299117_10203915239831130_8311481907877741669_n

This drawing by Joseph absolutely kills me. For Mother’s Day the first graders had little booklets they made up about their Moms. My little boys wrote all kinds of sweet exaggerations about me, but this picture is the most honest portrayal of my life. He drew little heart people getting off the school bus and immediately asking their Mom, “what’s for supper?”

may2014 003

My oldest has a new found love for archery, so we we set up a target shooting area in the backyard. He loves to practice shooting when he gets home from school, which is an hour earlier than my elementary kids.

may2014 001

Let’s say a prayer that the screen top of this jar does NOT come off. If it does and these egg sacs decide to burst forth with 1,000’s of baby praying mantises, we are in deep trouble. These pods were all found last fall and kept in a jar in our garage all winter. We are waiting for them to hatch soon!

may2014 006

Last but certainly not least, it is refreshing to see my green grass and flowerbeds filled with color once again. I have lots and lots of purple irises and they are finally blooming. It is beautiful.

Craft/DIY Ideas, Uncategorized

Growing Potatoes in a Barrel

If you would happen to drive by my house, this big blue barrel at one corner may catch your eye.

key lime pie 011

What in the world is growing in there?

Potatoes, of course.

I had found this article on Pinterest this spring and was pretty intrigued by the idea.

So, we followed the instructions from there and a couple of other sources, using this big blue barrel as our container. (Apparently you can use a lot of different container options to grow potatoes in. Who knew?)

key lime pie 010

I believe they’re almost ready to dig up.

Actually, scratch that. When you think they’re ready, you can simply dump out the contents of your barrel/container and the potatoes can just be picked up.

Pretty cool, huh?

We did plant a good bit of potatoes the “regular” way, over at our garden plot, which is on my in-laws’ farm. My big boys and I, along with the help of my father-in-law, dug up a bunch of red-skinned potatoes about two weeks ago.

Some other things we’ve been picking lately:

key lime pie 008

Beets. Lots of them. I love beets, which is a good thing since we’ve had so many!

key lime pie 007

Beans. These are some really cool purple ones that we tried out this year. When you cook them at all, they turn green!

key lime pie 006

More beans. This is a haul we picked one morning last week. Here we have plain old green ones, yellow, purple, and flat Italian green beans.

Oh yes, there’s nothing like picking beans in almost 100 degree, humid weather. When we were done, my son Andrew offered me a long drink from the water hose. Um, that’s okay dude, I have a water bottle! I did tell him he could spray me down with it though. He got excited and was like, “Really?!?” Believe me, I could have used a good hosing down after that picking session!

We snapped our beans down in the basement later that day, and I ended up being able to freeze quite a few quart bags.

We also have some squash, zucchini, cucumbers, and tomatoes are just starting to turn. Sweet corn is getting ready too, so I’m sure we will have a huge corn-freezing day coming up soon. In August we usually also can peaches and lots of tomato products.

Last year our homemade spaghetti sauce was the BOMB, so maybe I’ll do a tutorial on that sometime soon.