"Though the fig tree should not blossom,

And there be no fruit on the vines,

Though the yield of the olive should fail,

And the feilds produce no food,

Though the flock should be cut off from the fold,

And there be no cattle in the stalls,

Yet I will exult in the Lord,

I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.

The Lord God is my strength,

And He has made my feet like hinds' feet

And makes me walk on my high places."

Habakkuk 3:17-19

Today was 'one of those mornings' when I felt like having my morning coffee in this special mug made by 'Gary Merkel'... I won it at an Art Show in Metchosin last year. This work of his is done in porcelain.......aw... made the coffee taste so much better!

Happy FIRST Birthday, Jackson Ryder!!

Our Jackson turned ONE today....

Jackpine Work Weekend

This past weekend we were able to travel up North to Williams,MN and the Jackpine Campground. The project for the weekend was to put a new roof on some poles whose roof had fallen off. Jeff and Becky Chudek had organized it all and several of us were able to go. There ended up being 5 young families, a couple of couples and 2 singles there. The picture above shows what we were starting out with.
Here the rafters are going up!
Now the steel! And unfortunately this is the last picture I have of this project. I ended up not getting the finished product but I can tell you it looked very nice! The guys (and Anna did some screwing too.) did a great job.
While the guys were busy with that we ladies thought we should keep busy too. This little shelter has been at camp for as long as I can remember and it was getting quite old and leaking. There was also some old tin available so we decided that we should do some re roofing. Here Anna and a bunch of kids are taking some of the rotten boards off.

Here are Anna and I working at putting the tin on.
Emily and Anna are putting the top piece on. This project was certainly not one of perfectionism, but it was fun and should lengthen the life of that old kid's shelter.

While we were there Mara cut her foot a little and here is the medical team that I found caring for her when I got to her.

We all worked together to make the food and then ate together. Each of us ladies were in charge of one or two meals and then everybody chipped in and helped. Afterwards we all washed dishes together. It was a lot of fun because we were able to do a lot of visiting while we worked!

The weekend was a little tiring for all of us but Aaron was the only one who fell to sleep during supper.

Some daddies and their tired baby girls.

We had a great time even though we had some cold weather and lots of ticks to contend with. On Sunday morning we had church around the campfire which was fun. What are your favorite camping memories?

Wordless Wednesday

Some of the beautiful violets we saw when down in Woodbury.
For more Wordless Wednesday posts visit 5 minutes for Mom.

Works for me Wednesday ~ Flax!

Something I have learned to do in the last few years is to add ground flax seed to my baking. Flax is very good for you and throwing it into your baking is not hard. I grind most of my own flour and so when I do that I will just mix a little flax in with my wheat (or rye or whatever) when it is going through the grinder and then there is flax in my flour. If you don't have a grain grinder and aren't grinding flour then it is pretty easy just to grind your flax in a blender or some other sort of food processor. It is best to grind the seeds so you can get the full nutritional value.
Some of the things I put it in are: Bread, muffins, cookies and granola. If you use it in huge amounts you can substitute some flax for a little flour in pretty much anything. Some people eat it raw sprinkled over oatmeal or in their smoothies.

Flax is rich in alpha linolenic acid which is an omega 3 fat. That helps with:
  • Making it Anti-inflammatory which can help with asthma, osteo arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, migraine headaches and osteoporosis.
  • Protecting Bone health
  • Protecting against Heart Disease, Cancer and Diabetes.
  • Preventing and controlling high blood pressure.

Other ways flax can help your health are:

  • Reducing hot flashes (in studies it reduced them over 50%!)
  • It is rich in beneficial fiber which fights constipation.
  • It helps to get rid of the "Blues".

For more detail on the benefits of flax I found these sites helpful: WHFoods and Golden Valley Flax.

All said, Flax definitely works for me!!
Do you use flax? What do you like about it or how do you like to use it?

I also have been enjoying growing flax flowers. I think they are so beautiful and they come back year after year. I haven't figured out if this is the right type to eat though and so I haven't tried harvesting to eat them.

For more Works for me Wednesday tips visit Rocks in my Dryer.

Tipster Tuesday ~ Links for Homeschoolers

  • It is the time of year to enroll your kids in Pizza Hut's "Book It!" program. You can enroll through June 13. Last year was our first year of doing it and we did enjoy it. We try not to do a lot of eating out (to save money and eat healthier foods) but it was fun to get to have Pizza Hut pizza once a month from Oct. to March. We have two kids of the right age for the program so they each got a personal pan pizza which was enough for them to each share with a sibling. Then if Ken and I got a medium pizza that was all we would need to buy to take care of our meal. Quite a few times last year however we got coupons that made a large pizza as cheap as a medium so we would get that instead and then get to have some leftovers. A lot of times we would get coupons in our newspaper but if you don't get that you can also print out coupons online.
  • Today I finally got around to ordering my kids achievement tests for the year. If you are running behind on doing that as well here is a place where you can get tests for $25 (which from what I have seen is a pretty good deal). The place is called Seton Home Study school and it appears to be run by Catholics but they sell to anybody. We used them last year as well and they send the tests quickly and they are easy to use. They are the California Achievement Tests.
  • If you are finding a bunch of bugs this Spring and would like to learn more about them then this website might be the place to look.

If you would like to see more tips on various things, visit Tipster Tuesday at BeCentsAble.

Lunch at Rosie's in Cook St. Village

Met up with Scott for lunch today....great visit...
We HAD to have our picture taken as we both showed up in limegreen coloured outfits!

Jackson's sweater fit!!!!

The combined birthday party for Jackson's lst, Christopher's 6th and Uncle Warren's 50th went very well.. Jackson, in spite of a high fever, enjoyed his gifts and cake!!

Celebrating Graduations frugally

It is Graduation time again! I enjoy this time of year and think it is fun to celebrate with the graduates. However if you know very many graduates this can be a rather expensive time of year as you get cards and possible gifts for each of them. As I was getting stuff ready for the graduates that I knew, I was thinking about this and I am going to share some of my thoughts with you.

Concerning Cards ~ Buying them at the store costs a lot! They are generally at least $2 and easily up to $5 also it takes a long time to go through them and chose the one that you think is just right. (At least for me!) My solution is to make my own. I do enjoy making cards but even if it is not really your thing I encourage you to try it. The amount it costs is very minimal. You can buy 250 sheets of card stock for around $10 which will make 500 cards. Then if you buy stamps and ink pads you can use them over and over again. Make sure you buy ones that you will be able and willing to use a lot. You can use all sorts of odds and ends of colored paper (even stuff from junk mail and magazines ~keep your eyes open!) For cards don't worry about having lots of fancy words in it, in my experience graduates don't usually read that very much anyway. Just simply hand write a message of what they mean to you and your well wishes for the future and maybe include a special Bible verse or quote. That will mean more to them than a poem on a store bought card anyway.

You can also make cards using your computer. Here are some free ones that you can print out.

Gifts~ Money is always very useful for a graduate and it requires no shopping or wrapping. So if you can afford it than go for it. But if you want to give something that shows some thought as well as being much more frugal than you might try a gift of some sort. I am including a list of ideas that I came up with and then I would love it if you would share in the comments what you have either received or given that worked well.
  • Token gifts. Just a little something to show that you are thinking of them and care about them. For the recent graduates in our life we gave the girls a flower (from our garden) and the guy some candy (bought with coupons and on sale) in a cute wood container that we got inexpensively at a local store that has locally made gifts. (see picture above)
  • Stationary/Note cards for girls (maybe guys would appreciate it too but I don't quite think so). This you can easily make yourself.
  • A First Aid Kit. Especially good for someone leaving home for the first time. (For this one if you are a Walgreens or CVS shopper you probably could get some very good deals on the items you include. Otherwise shopping at Dollar Tree will find you things economically.)
  • A homemade cookbook for anyone that will be on their own cooking. If it is a family member than try to gather all the favorite family recipes to include.
  • A car kit. Here is a site with ideas of things to include. Look for things on sale and sew up you own bag to put it in.
  • Laundry Stuff, such as a basket, detergent, dryer sheets, etc. Stock up on things when they are on sale. This is very handy for someone just starting out.
  • Towels. For a graduate heading off to college I know I found this gift very useful.
  • A Pamper yourself basket. Be creative with different spa like things (using the great deals you have found) to make a basket that would be a welcome gift for a girl.
  • Books. One of my personal favorites. I loved the gifts that I received at graduation of music, Bible study helps and fun reading books.
  • A Plant for those with a green thumb. If you plan ahead you could start one from one that you have.
  • Picture frames.
  • A homemade quilt. This takes some time but it is a very welcome and fun gift that you can make very personal.
  • A nice pen.
  • A scrapbook of high school or college memories.
  • A snack basket. (You can use lots of snack items that you bought with coupons.)
  • A tote bag. Perhaps you can use their school colors or the colors of the university they will be attending. (I am hoping to post instructions for making the tote bag below soon.)
Those are some of my ideas, I would love to hear yours!
For more frugal tips visit Biblical Womanhood.

A favourite flower of mine.

The snowdrop is, without a doubt, a tough little flower on the outside...with such a frail, gentle inside to it....
I was given that nickname once by someone who loved me alot....and knew me very well.

Seeds that are willing to die

This morning I was excited to see our Lilies of the Vally poking up through the leaves. You might wonder why I would get excited over leaves rolled up so tightly that they just look like little shoots. The reason is because I know their potential. I know before to long there will be beautiful dark green leaves along the north side of our house and then pretty and dainty white flowers as well. I am looking forward to smelling them, taking pictures of them and picking them to use in arrangements.
I also get excited thinking about my box of seeds. The seeds in themselves are nothing special but I know the potential that they contain! I am looking forward to many meals of juicy and sweet corn on the cob, crisp cucumbers, beautiful flowers, ripe tomatoes and much more.

Gardening reminds me of the verse in John 12:24. "Truly, Truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit."

But What is seeds had choice like we do? I can imagine a seed saying "But I don't want to die! It is dark, cold and wet down in the earth. I would much rather stay in my warm and dry seed packet with the pretty picture on front. I am comfortable here, don't make me move! " And we think "how absurd!" That is ridiculous, seeds are for planting, not for staying warm and dry in their seed packet. If they do that after a few years they won't even have any potential left and will only be fit for being thrown away.

The deal is, we know what is best for a seed, how they can reach their full potential. But how about us? That verse above isn't really preaching to the seeds or even telling the farmer what do do with his grains of wheat. It was talking about Jesus and how He had to die for us and it is also talking to us about a choice that we need to make in our life. We are asked to die so that we can reach our full potential. We are asked this not by somebody who doesn't know anything but rather by God, the one who created us and knows what our full potential is!

The following verses also give us something to think about John 12: 25 & 26 say: "He who loves his life loses it; and he who hates his life in this world shall keep it to life eternal. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me ; and where I am there shall My servant also be; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him." We aren't to be so in love with our earthly life and fleshly desires (like a seed wanting to stay in the packet) that we will be willing to give up the hope of eternal life!

Well then how can we die? How can we have this new life of bearing much fruit? Romans 6:4&5 says: "Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection. " It really isn't very complicated, it requires a burial too, just like the seed (and like Jesus) but this one is in water. And then we can say like Paul in Galatians 2:20 "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me." !

Jackson's lst Birthday Present is DONE!!!!!

I did it!!!! Got it finished in time for his lst birthday...
So cute..won't he love the pockets!!

Fun and Frugal Traveling

We just got back from a quick trip to the cities and back (We went down last night and back this afternoon) and so I have traveling on my mind. We take this trip (a 4 1/2 hour drive) fairly often with our four children as well as other jaunts that vary in length. For the most part we do enjoy traveling with them and I thought I would share some of the things that work for us.

Food and Drink For our family this seems to be an essential for any trip. We often seem to be in a hurry (we have a tendency to leave after Ken gets off work and we hope to get there before it is really late.) so we usually eat a meal or so in the van. Also bringing our own stuff saves money. Here are some things that work for us:
  • Everybody has a water bottle. Drinking water is good for you and I don't want to be stuck buying overpriced bottled water should someone get thirsty.
  • Ken drinks Mt. Dew for his caffeine "needs". When I remember I pack this as well (which for him it needs to be on plenty of ice!) which saves us a lot of money as well as time.
  • Snacks seem to keep our family happier while traveling, some of our favorites are: Popcorn (popped in our popper before we go), oranges, apples (I bring a knife to slice it as my kids eat it easier that way and with less waste), bananas, crackers, cheese slices, homemade cookies, mozzarella sticks and carrot sticks.
  • Sandwiches always work pretty well for meals on the road, usually we combine that with some of the snacks listed above for a meal. Other ideas for cold meals are wraps of various kinds and leftover cold pizza ( I love this but not everybody does).
  • Recently since we often leave just before supper time I have been experimenting with bringing hot food along to eat. Some of the ones that have work well for us have been : Tuna or chicken turnovers, pigs in a blanket and then my brainchild for last night: Pizza burgers. Yesterday afternoon I was making bread anyway and I had some browned hamburger in the fridge. I mixed the hamburger with tomato sauce and shredded cheese ( and I meant to add Italian seasonings which would have been good but I forgot it) and then I took a handful of dough and stretched it out and put some filling inside and then sealed it up and then baked it for 20 minutes or so. We ate them with black olives on the side and everybody seemed to enjoy them.

Packing our food has saved us a lot of money over the years. Also I think we end up with healthier food much of the time.

Activities to keep the kids occupied This is also an important part of traveling for us. It would be handy if our kids slept the whole trip but they don't so this is some of the things we do:
  • We pack a bag of books, writing materials and small toys. If it is a really long trip each child has their own bag.
  • An activity we enjoyed this last trip was finding things outside the van that started with each letter of the alphabet in order. You could do this as a competition but we had fun with all of us working together. It is also a good learning activity for younger children. (It can also be quite humorous with young children as they will suggest all sorts of things.)
  • Make up rhymes together. About what you see, your family or just anything. This can be quite funny!
  • I had another whole post on this part earlier so you can visit there for more ideas.

What do you do to travel frugally while having fun? For more Works for me Ideas visit Rocks in my Dryer.

On Saturday we had a fun little outing. One of the boys I watch one morning a week turned 6 and his family invited us, my sister and kids and a couple of students from Malaysia to join them at Itasca State park for a birthday lunch. I had fun taking pictures (as usual!) and I thought I would share some.
Here are Megan and Lars enjoying some watermelon.
A couple of the many beautiful Mayflowers (Hepatica) that we saw.
Patrick, one of our Malaysian friends attempting to use a camp can opener to open the beans.
Becky and Suhalia working on the cake. It looks a little windy in the picture because it was. The weather was rather crazy going from calm, sunny and warm to extremely windy and with some rain. Then it would be warm and calm again and then rainy. The cycle repeated itself several times. One time limbs started falling down from overhead.

Martha grilling the brats and hotdogs.

Mara and Megan enjoying the hammock they had up.
We also went to the place in the park where the headwaters of the Mississippi River is. Mara is walking across the rocks and getting her shoes and socks wet. At sometimes during the year you can walk across with shoes on and not get them wet but right now the water is fairly high.
Some of the kids and Martha walking across the log/bridge that is just a tiny ways down the river. At this point the Mississippi is very shallow and narrow. One year when we canoed from the headwaters to just above Bemidji we just had to drag our canoes through the beginning part.
Most of the kids on a log.

That was our fun day out enjoying God's creation.

YAY....a parade!!! It's May Long Weekend in Canada

This is me in 1982...downtown Victoria,BC,Canada, sitting on a clown's knee..why not!!!
I have always loved clowns and maybe one day I will take lessons to 'be a clown'...
Janis is watching us!!
I should go downtown this morning and watch the parade but have decided to sit in front of my TV and watch it in the comfort of my livingroom.....knitting (of course)!

The bird nest that I knit...

I knit this birdnest at one of my first meetings with the Knitter's Guild.
The class was put on by Karen S.
We added pieces of twigs and pieces of long wet grass etc. into the yarn
as we were making the nests...then I tied on a piece of sponge from the ocean!
Wrapped the finished nest to a perfect piece of driftwood...adding lint from my
dryer inside the nest for the birds to use!
Was suppose to hang it outside for the little birds to use but just could not
part with my 'masterpiece'...so it hangs in my front entrance...sorry little birds!

Graduation time!

Yesterday was graduation day at Bemidji State University. Over 700 students graduated. Since we are involved with an organization that reaches out to the international students we usually know somebody that is graduating every year. I don't usually go to the graduation as it is in the afternoon and during kids nap times and it is pretty long and not something that I feel like taking kids too. This year however we figured out a way to see the graduates and wish them well without having to sit through the ceremony. We went afterwards when they were filing out. (Which if we hadn't told them, they would have thought we were there the whole time.)

It was fun to get to see them all dressed up and be able to wish them well, meet their parents (those that had come), give them a card and a little something and get our pictures with them.
It is so fun for us to get to know these students. We have been blessed to have them in our lives a little while. The above picture is of my parents, sisters, nieces, nephew and my kids with Ming and Patrick. Below I am with Ming, Phooi Man and Natalie.

An evening bike ride

On Thursday evenings we have our family night. That is one evening a week when we make sure to do fun things as a family (or occasionally as a couple). For the most part we do very simple, frugal activities but we have a lot of fun! This week we went on a bike ride. There was a trail that we had seen from the road but had never been on not far from our house (around a mile away) and so we decided to check it out. It was an old trail but paved, and it was quiet, we didn't have to worry about the kids riding out in front of a car. It was easy riding until we got to the train tracks!
There was no way to ride across the tracks so we had to drag our bikes over. With just a bike that wasn't hard but the bike and trailer together was a little bit of a trick. Ken and I had to work together.

The evening was quite beautiful, we were riding through a swampy area and it was fun to look a the new plants growing, the birds and the tiny leaves on the bushes. We also went by Lake Irving. We ended up riding all the way into town and then rode around in an old section of town. It was a fun family outing!

There goes Mara down the trail!

The making of slime and other green ways to save money.

This week I have been having fun trying out a couple of new ways to save money and live more environmentally friendly. One of the things I did was make my own laundry detergent. I had read about this quite some time ago on the Simple Dollar but just hadn't gotten around to trying it yet. With his recipe you can make over 3 gallons of liquid laundry soap for less than $1 (at least for me it was).

I have only been trying it on my laundry for the last couple of days but it seems to be working pretty well. Also the making of it was quite fun. At least I thought it was fun, I have always been one that loves to make messes and experiment (my mom will verify that statement) and so this was just up my alley. Thought it actually wasn't that messy. Basically you just shave a bar of soap into some hot water in a pan on the stove and dissolve it well.Then you add it to more hot water in a 5 gallon bucket, add the soda and stir well, add the borax and stir well and let it sit overnight and it is ready to use. My kids thought it looked like I was playing in water and they thought it looked like a very fun job too.

Even thought I have always bought inexpensive laundry soap (I am not a loyal Tide user) this will still be quite a money savings over time. Every little bit helps and this is not at all a hard way to save money.

~The other new thing that I am doing is brushing my teeth with baking soda. The reason I actually started doing this I because for years I have had problems with canker sores. If you have never experienced them just let me tell you they aren't fun! Lately I have been thinking that there is probably a reason I am getting them and I should do some research on it and try to find a solution for my problem. Well according to the things I read, they don't seem to truly know for sure, and it seems to vary from person to person, but a common problem with many people seems to be the Sodium Laurel Sulphate which is in many toothpastes. So I decided to check my toothpaste and sure enough it had it, then I thought I would check all the other toothpastes I had (I have gotten quite a stash from all the Walgreens deals) and they all had it in them. So I decided to try just plain soda, I know that this has been something that has been used for years and it does work, it just doesn't taste as good. Well when I switched the canker sores that I had healed up right away and so far I haven't gotten any more.

I would love to hear if anybody else has found a solution for canker sores (other than medicine) that works well. I will continue to try the baking soda and will try to remember to let you know in the future if I am still canker sore free.

~ The other thing is something I am actually just thinking about trying, I haven't tried it yet. It is where you use baking soda to wash your hair and then rinse in vinegar. It is called the no'poo method. Babyslime has a very in depth post about it explaining the benefits of the no'poo method and the problems with shampoo. I think it makes quite a bit of sense but I haven't made the switch yet. I will be sure to report if I do and how well it works. I am interested to know if any of you use this method and what you think.

For more frugal tips visit Biblical Womanhood.

Cheap Cereal!

I hardly ever used to buy cereal but I have to admit since I started doing a lot of couponing, I have been able to get it so cheaply that we have it a lot more than we used too(Though we only eat it around once a week). This week I found a couple of great deals on cereal and I thought I would share them.
Walgreens has Smart Start Cereal on sale (as well as Raisin Bran and some other Kellogg cereals) for 4/$10. That is not a very good deal in my book but you do also get a $2 Register Reward. And then I went here and found coupons for Smart Start Cereal and I was able to print of 2 coupons for $3 off 2 boxes of Smart Start. So after coupons I only had to pay $4 for 4 boxes and then I also got a RR. (And I payed the $4 with RR from last week.)

Also we were in our local Marketplace Foods and I happened to notice they had Malt-O-Meal cereal on sale (unadvertised) for 99 cents. I happened to have a $1 coupon and a $1.50 coupon so we got two bags (of unhealthy cereal!!!) for free plus 51 cents towards my other groceries.

For more Frugal Friday tips visit Biblical Womandhood.

Babysitting while dental appointments were being dealt with

Jackson just figured out how to make the floor pedal work on the old Singer Sewing Machine (which was my Mom's!)..kept him busy for a very long time!

He yelled and screamed at the cars as they went by...he was beside himself when a big delivery truck came into the driveway of our condo complex!!!

Enjoying the view of the gardens of our complex. This garden is on the roof of the British Fish&Chips!! 29 businesses below our 105 condos...