A Homemade Christmas!

Today I want to invite you to join me every Monday (until Christmas) for a series on a Homemade Christmas. I am planning on sharing with you homemade gift ideas and tutorials, decorating ideas and special foods to make. I also am really hoping that you will join me as I plan on putting up a Mr. Linky so that you can write posts about a Homemade Christmas as well and link back to mine so there will be lots of fun ideas for us to browse through.

When I grew up we did not celebrate Christmas for a variety of reasons a few of them being the high commercialism that usually comes with it, lies about Santa Claus,and the stress and financial burden that falls on many families. Those aspects of Christmas are ones that I still avoid but our little family has found that we can have a very fun, no stress Christmas and we enjoy it by keeping it simple and having a lot of fun making things for each other. I would love to see more people step back and make Christmas fun and simple again. This series of posts will hopefully encourage you in that.

Here are some examples of the sort of thing I will be sharing over the next few weeks:

I think Christmas can be very fun and memorable without spending much money and I think if we share our ideas it can be even more that way! So please come join me on the next 8 Mondays.

If you would take my little graphic (above) and help spread the word around, I would really appreciate that!

We have gotten started!

The Difference a Year makes...

Asalam Alaikum,
Have you ever wondered the difference a year makes?...if you've got a little one it can hit you hard.

And this is the Difference a Year makes--

This has been the most crazy/wonderful/awesome year of my life, Happy Birthday Little Man!!!!

School Pictures and Jackson 2008-2009

Charlotte Grade 3 Christopher Grade 1 and Jackson 17 months.

Grade 3 school picture...

Charlotte's Grade 3 school picture...I can't believe how grown up she looks for 8 years old.
Christopher's picture will be arriving soon...

A new dress for Mara

One of the thrifty green projects that I really enjoy is remaking clothes. Last week I decided to go through my closet and get rid of anything that I didn't wear, or that didn't fit me that well or I didn't like the way I looked in it. One dress that I decided didn't work for me (I really liked it but it was a little to short and tight) I decided to remake for Mara.
It was actually a pretty simple project as I didn't have to do a lot to it. The picture above show how it fit her before I did anything to it.
I saw this really cool tip somewhere else online: when you need to figure out how much to take something in, put it on wrong side out! Above is Mara wearing the dress wrong side out and I figured out how much to take in the side seams and sleeves. I did that on both sides and then to make the shoulders fit better I added a bit of elastic. Then I cut a couple of inches off of the bottom and hemmed it again. With the extra fabric I added some fabric around the neck to fill in the neckline and I also made a headband for her.

Mara was quite pleased with the "new" dress and I was happy for her to have one that will be pretty and warm on her for the winter as well as looking better on her than it did on me.

A blog reader recently e-mailed wondering if I had any ideas for re-using men's dress shirts (She was specifically interested in Shirt dresses.) I haven't ever remade any yet but after researching it a bit I am interested now! I thought I would post some of the neat links that I found. (The first my friend Betsy actually told me about some time ago.)
I would love to hear any of your ideas on remaking clothes!

WFMW ~ Never run out of anything (almost!)

We have a system at our house which works really well (though once and a while we mess up and don't follow it perfectly). Our system is this: We keep a shopping list pad posted on the refrigerator. We also buy two or more of the things we regularly use. For instance on Mayonnaise we always have one which is in use in the fridge and another that is ready on the shelf. Whenever we use up the Mayonnaise in the fridge then we write it on the list and then open the one on the shelf. As long as we follow this (which both Ken and I are pretty good at now) we never have to say "Oh no! we are all out of ketchup!" when we are having burgers and oven fries. That definitely works for us.

Doing my store demo at Safeway at Tillicum

Today at Safeway at Tillicum..doing my store demo job promoting Organico products...
applesauce, juices and cookies...the 4 1/2 hours FLEW by. There are 13 demo stations like mine..promoting things from spareribs, soups, fresh pineapple..it's amazing...
NOW I have to soak my feet..that's the only drawback for me...my feet!

One minute wellness

I just finished reading the book "One minute Wellness, the natural health and happiness system that never fails" by Dr. Ben Lerner with Dr. Greg Loman. I really enjoyed it and found it to be inspiring and so I thought I would tell you about it.

He thinks there are 5 essentials to maximized living and they are:
  1. Avoidance and Reduction of Medications.
  2. Maximum Nerve Supply (this would be through chiropractic care, making sure that you have no subluxations.)
  3. Quality Nutrients.
  4. Optimum Oxygen Levels and Lean Muscle (this comes from exercise ~ leading an active lifestyle.)
  5. Peace of Mind and Strong Relationships.

I found what he said to make a lot of sense and I especially appreciated that he tied everything back to God and the reason that we want to be healthy and live well is for Him.

Here are some quotes from the book I really appreciated:

"Pregnant women always say they are eating for two. I always say I am eating for three:

  1. God
  2. The people I love and serve.
  3. Me ( I do like to look and feel my best.)"

If you just eat healthy because you want to look good, you can easily get discouraged, but if you eat healthy for a higher reason than that, for instance taking care of the body that God made, wanting to be able to serve God to the best of your ability and being able to be a better wife and mother, that will be far greater motivation.

He also talks a lot of our need to have a mission, a purpose.

"It is hard to imagine someone on a mission chronically unhappy and in need of mood-altering medication. The phrase "on a mission" conjures up an image of someone fired up, energetic, and ready to take on the world. It certainly doesn't paint a picture of someone depressed, fatigued, and hunched over on a bar stool or in a medical waiting room."

"Anytime you life's focus turns to serving yourself, you will find that you are highly susceptible to a lack of motivation, disorder, and sometimes even despair. But when you choose to focus your energy on your mission -your duty to serve others- you will quickly watch mood elevate along with your energy and enthusiasm.

"The discipline of doing work that serves your mission sounds tough. Many people look at guidelines for living as a lawful, dry and boring existence. But they are not. Far from it! The life that is inspired by and obedient to God is the blessed life. It is a life that goes beyond simple happiness into an inner sense of peace and fulfillment. It the embodiment of Maximized Living."

He talks about Maximized living in a minimized-living world. He talks of the need for people with integrity and principles. I appreciated this list.

"Principled men and women are those who

  • trust in and rely on their bodies' own resources first for getting and staying well.
  • cannot be bought at any price.
  • are conscious of how they treat their bodies.
  • do what is right, not what is expedient.
  • are honest in every transaction, no matter how big or small.
  • make decisions that always take into account the well-being of others.
  • look for a way for everyone to win.
  • believe God is always watching their steps.
  • see past what is important in this world and into what is important in God's world.
  • never pay their expenses at the expanse of others.
  • passionately desire to be successful in their missions but will not use deception, cunning or other people to get there.
  • do not fear rejection, failure or swimming upstream against popular opinion.
  • are willing to do what has never been done.
  • are inspired to consistently do God's work.
  • are faithful and hopeful.
  • are uncompromising in their leadership.
  • are willing to endure hardships and the tests of time and do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to see their missions accomplished.
  • put God and family before absolutely everything.

That list reminds me of Psalm chapter 15 which the kids and I have been memorizing. It says:

A psalm of David.
"1 LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary?
Who may live on your holy hill?
2 He whose walk is blameless
and who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from his heart
3 and has no slander on his tongue,
who does his neighbor no wrong
and casts no slur on his fellowman,
4 who despises a vile man
but honors those who fear the LORD,
who keeps his oath
even when it hurts,
5 who lends his money without usury
and does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things
will never be shaken."

For more information you can visit Dr. Ben Lerner's website on Maximized Living.

I love socks...mostly

Asalam Alaikum,
I made my first ever pair of socks awhile back, they turned out ok, and didn't take too long to make.(pics in the far future as said pair of socks are currently in Pakistan for reasons not currently known) So after that I decided to cast on for the DH's pair...with size 1's and sock yarn that feels more like sewing thread. My DH wears a size 13(in the US) shoe. I think that this might just be what puts me over the edge. I knit and knit and knit and they don't seem to get any longer, so they are currently hibernating. But you get a pic anyway.

Before you ask, yes I did stab my knitting with the needle.

And also here is an Update on what I think I might call "The Confetti Shawl"

6 Week rotating menu

I think menu planning is a great way to go and have done menu planning for most of my married life. This year I got very into trying new things all the time as we have been studying about the 50 states for our homeschooling (taking one state a week) and I was trying to eat recipes that were special for that state. Cooking had started to get a little overwhelming and Ken and the kids were a little tired of constantly having new foods. Something needed to change.

After some discussion we decided to try out a plan that we have thought about off and on. That is to make up a menu (I decided on a 6 week one) that we could basically just rotate over and over. The idea is that I will never have to make a menu again. (So this might be my last time to participate in Menu plan Monday.) I included foods that have been old favorites in our household. I did not put what vegetables we would be eating on there as that will be according to what is seasonally available. Another things that I did was to leave Thursday blank. That is our family night and I decided it would also be a good night to have our special state food (And after we are done studying states we are planning on going to countries and then beyond that it can just be a night for trying new things.).

You might notice that only Sunday has dinner/lunch listed, on the other days we generally eat leftovers or if we don't have any I make soup or something with beans (which Ken doesn't like) for the kids and I. Only Saturday has breakfasts listed. We eat breakfast every day but on most days I need something that I can get on the table in about 20 minutes or less so we eat things like eggs, toast, yogurt, pancakes, french toast, muffins (baked the day before) and occasionally cereal. On Saturdays I have more time to cook breakfast so we have some more time consuming breakfasts listed.

To see the menu with a little larger print (in case you don't have eagle eyes!!) just click on it.

I am also trying to incorporate making double meals and freezing them. On the menu I will have in parentheses "Make extra to freeze" or F. (freeze) E. (extra) and "From Freezer" or f.f. That way about once a week I can just pull something out of the freezer instead of needing to do any cooking. I have used this method off and on and I really like it and am glad I am finally incorporating it on a more regular basis.

For Thursday this week since we are studying about Montana was are planning on having:

Beacon Hill Park

I babysat Christopher (6) and Jackson (17 months) yesterday while Janis and Charlotte went to Irene's babyshower...We met up with Helen and her two grandsons at the park and the kids had such a great time! Grammer was 'in heaven' having her grandsons for the afternoon. Jackson 'made miles'..especially chasing the ducks..he kept saying 'go go go go go' and he did go go go go!! It really was a great afternoon.

Aaron turns 5!

Yesterday was Aaron's 5th birthday. It was a fun and fairly relaxing day. We had fun making some presents for him. Jonathan made him a bow and some arrows, Mara made him a gecko and some handkerchiefs (he had announced the other day that he needed some).
One of the gifts I made for him was this quilt. This was a fun and fast project. I was using some old squares (corduroy, jean and other heavy weight materials) that my siblings and I had cut out as kids while listening to Mom read aloud stories like "David Copperfield" and "Evidence Not Seen". (My mom used to read aloud to us for hours, even as teenagers. We loved it and would work on lots of projects while she read.) The middle square is a piece of needlework I did as a child and then I also used some animal picture fabric that my Grandma had given to me.

Another gift that Aaron had been wanting was a horse outfit. I tried to make one from some heavy weight fabric that had been given to us. The head was a bit of a challenge and I still need to put the eyes on (I was waiting until he had tried it on) but it worked out okay. Jonathan actually was the one that ended up wearing it a lot of the day, but Aaron didn't seem to mind.
I made the horse outfit to also work as a regular outfit. Here it is without the "head" or the "tail".
For his cake Aaron decided on a fire engine cake. It didn't turn out very well. My red wasn't very red, the frosting was to runny and the cake to warm but Aaron seemed to like it all right. Everybody else could tell what it was too (At least after we told them! ). The kids also made some fire men for table decorations (we also had candles for their fire).
We had invited my parents and siblings over to join us for supper and cake and ice cream. Jake asked if he could come as well, and that sounded fine to me so we had him as well. Shortly before they were to come SuSan called and wondered what we were doing and I mentioned it was Aaron's birthday, She asked "Are you having cake and ice cream?" I said yes so she thought she had better come too. :-) She was able to get a ride from Jake (after I talked her out of riding her bike as it would have been rather dark and cold). When SuSan arrived she noticed that Megan had been cutting paper in her room and had failed to clean up (Megan is great at making paper messes!), she wondered if she could pick it up, I was busy finishing getting supper ready and I said "sure!" She then proceeded to clean the girls room. After supper SuSan decided to wash all the dishes (we did help!). She is thinking maybe she should move in with me to help me clean. :-) I think I rather like having SuSan over!
All in all it was a pretty good day.

Updates of knitting and a little cutie

Asalam Alaikum,

So SOMEONE thinks that I should blog more often, and I totally agree so here we go!

First up, I just cast on this colorful little blur, it is going to be for me, I know I know its a red letter day! This is my own little spin of EZ's Moebius scarf, except that I want it to be sort of a shawl kind of thing so I am trying to make it a little on the big side, so it will sit on my shoulders.

Now this is photographic evidence of my slightly obsessive nature,two an a half BSJs...The brown and grey is for my DS, the pink/purple is for my SIL's Daughter, and the green is for her new son. Two and a half and no end in site, this pattern is a bit on the addictive side!

Here is the DS modeling for you, that'll show me to try and take his picture right after nap time.

Further proof of my insanity...

I, for reasons still unknown even to myself, bought this Barbie, and spent 4 hours, (4 hours people!) making this little outfit for her. Just so that you know, it was made with the leftovers from my suit, so not only do I sew doll clothes, I sew them to match me.

AAAHHHHH!!!!!! A ghost!!

Hey you paparazzi get outta my face!

And finally this is a tease for you, you know who you are!

In the mood for crafts/sewing and all!

It has been chilly and wet around here lately, which is perfect weather for pulling out the craft and sewing stuff.
Earlier this week a few of us got together to make cards. That is something that I think is a lot of fun to do especially when you have somebody to visit with while doing it. Emily and Keren and the kids and I all got quite a few cards made. When I make cards I like to use rubber stamps a lot and I also enjoy using up lots of little paper scraps, catalog pictures, old cards and more to make cards. Basically all I buy is white and cream card stock. Making cards makes for a wonderful fun and creative evening.

I have also been busy sewing gifts for Aaron's birthday which is today. It has been very fun and I will share about it later.

I have been thinking it would be fun to start a series on Homemade Christmas gifts. If I set up a "Mr. Linky" would anybody else like to join me?

Hallowe'en 1981

We retired to Victoria in 1980. I was VERY lonely..missing my prairie friends ALOT. My husband asked me what I wanted for my birthday in 1981 and I said
"A trip to Watrous,Sask. for Halloween..by myself!"
I had so many many friends that I missed terribly PLUS I knew one woman was sewing SylvesterThePussyCat Costumes for her&her husband and her friend&herHusband for the BIG Halloween dance in that town. I got my ticket, rented a bunny rabbit costume from Elsa's (on Fernwood Ave/across from the Belfry!)..made my own face coverup ..I had to be COMPLETELY covered as everyone knew me so well. I flew to Regina, a friend drove me to the outskirts of Watrous, there a RCMP friend(my husband was head RCMP there before we retired) picked me up..took me to their home where I got dressed and he took me in the police car way out in the country to their Hallowe'en dance. He promised NOT TO LEAVE until he saw the Sylvester cats walk into the dance hall..THEY were my ride home as I would be staying at her place for a week (now THAT was another story! who has their home 'ready' for company!). I hopped (all night long and NOT saying one word until midnight!no easy task for me!)into the hall and looked around..recognized a fellow and his wife and hopped over to their table and sat beside him. He asked if he knew me..I nodded 'yes'... did I live here "no"...where did I live? "I spread my arms wide and waved to indicate far away".. would I like a drink? "shook my head yes"...he kept quizzing me..but he didn't find out who I was (I had been to their home many times!)
he had to get me a straw as I couldn't lift my mask as he might recognize me...My one mistake..I didn't buy something to keep my glasses from fogging up under the mask...AND I could only have that one drink as I wasn't getting enough oxygen!! Soooo now in walk the two little Sylvester cats..the wives!!! they go and sit down...(I'm the only one who knows who they are as she kept phoning me to tell me how great her sewing job was and that they would win first prize for sure!)...THEN in walk two taller Sylvester cats... they join the little cats!! I get up and hop hop hop across the hall and join them at their table...EVERYWHERE they went I hopped behind them...she was getting some ticked off with me as they have no idea who I am. She yelled "GET LOST..LEAVE ME ALONE"(they were really words not to be repeated!!)...I motioned that I wanted to dance with her.(they have no idea if I'm male or female at this point)..so she reluctantly obliged and then put her hands on my chest and yelled "OH NO...a woman"...that did it..NOW she really wanted NOTHING to do with me..but I kept hopping around with them ALL NIGHT LONG... finally it's midnight and the judges asked the people to parade in front of them and they would pick the best costume for the night. The pick of the evening was "The Four Sylvester Cats with an honourable mention to THEIR mascot the rabbit"..she yelled "SHE IS NOT WITH US"...didn't matter...everyone had fallen in love with me by this point (NOT knowing who I was).. Now we go back to the table...masks are all being taken off...she has her back to me (definitely 'telling' me she did not want me there)..her husband is across the table from me... I ever so carefully take off my 'face mask'...you should have seen her husband's face..he jumped ON and OVER the table..he was soooo excited..she turns..does a quick look..THEN turned back again and started yelling and crying and her first words were "My house is NOT clean"..she KNEW I was going to be there for awhile!! Well, that was only the beginning of a great time..after the dance we decided that a few of our friends had to be woken for me to say hello to them..it's now 2am. In small towns no one locks their doors!! We walked into homes..sat on their couches and called for them...they'd come out of a sound sleep and find 4 cats and a rabbit sitting in their living rooms...it was a scream!!!!! A few days later the town itself had their big dance...everyone knew I was in town by then..and I danced my face off and had the best birthday present ever. It's a 'happening' that can never be repeated..it was so good.

WFMW ~ Child training books

Today I thought I would share with you some books that have been very helpful for us in raising our children. When I was pregnant with our first child Ken and I read through "To Train Up A Child" by Micheal and Debi Pearl together. We were able to discuss the topics brought up and go over any differences we had before we were in the child training situation. That has really helped so that we can work together (Without any fighting) at raising our children.

"To Train up a Child" is a very interesting book to read, it is not that long and has a bunch of stories that they use as examples. They use scripture extensively on the subject as well a bunch of good common sense. I appreciate that fact that the writers have 5 adult children who all attest to the fact that their parents did a good job. The book really concentrates on the parent being the boss and being one consistently but also having a lot of fun with your children and being joyful.
We have found this book to be very helpful in raising our kids. We don't have perfect children but we aren't ashamed of them either. I don't do a perfect job of raising them either but I am trying. From time to time when I realize I really need to be reminded of just how I should be doing it, I read the book again. The "No Greater Joy" books are a continuation of "To Train up a Child."
I also included "Created to be His Helpmeet" in the picture as that is a book that has really encouraged me in being a good wife. It is written by Debi Pearl.

These books really work for me!
Have you read them? What do you think? What child training books do you like?

Pictures that tell a complete story

My latest collage pictures...
steps in making my angels. Including spraying them out on my balcony..

My friend Helen/me and her grandsons.
We take in alot of their baseball games. This pic was taken 3 years ago.

Hoping to go bald...

On Saturday night it was time for the boys haircuts. There hair had gotten longer than normal and it truly needed to be done. Aaron has never enjoyed haircuts partly because we also have him take a shower afterwards but at this haircut his comment was "I hope I go bald soon!". He was quite disappointed to find out that you usually have to be an adult (and that quite likely won't work for him either as it isn't in his genetics) or have chemo to go bald.

I just thought I should let any bald guys out there know that Aaron is quite jealous!

Thanksgiving 2008 Collage

I have 'unleashed a madman' within me...Oh no..as if I needed to learn something new to take up my time..help.

RoxioPhotoSuite5 has so many wonderful features and I happened upon 'add photos' feature.

My Family at Thanksgiving 2008.
Can hardly wait to work on my Christmas card email...

Fall decorating

I have been so in awe of how God has been so beautifully redecorating the outside lately! It has been very gorgeous around here (Now is a little past the peak however). It has made me want to do a little beautifying too so I thought I would share some of the ways we have been decorating lately.
Last Sunday the kids collected a bunch of gorgeous leaves. I pressed some so that they would look nice longer.
I looked around my house to see what fall things I had and I found some pretty ribbon in fall colors (most was from my grandma) as well as some silk flowers. I decided to add some ribbons and leaves to this wreath which hangs above my kitchen cabinets, I also stuck a red basket with some flowers in it up there.
For our table Megan and I made a fall basket of fruit and veggies and originally flowers. I had to do some revising as things got old but it is still there adding color to our table. I also pulled out a red place mat to go underneath and some fall colored ones which one I put on our phone stand and another under a lamp.
On our curtain valances I decided to pin (with a straight pin from the back) some of the beautiful leaves. I did this in both the dining and living room and it really brightens things up!
Here is a closeup of one of the leaves on the curtains.
I found this beautiful fall ribbon in my ribbon stash, I didn't really want to cut it so I decided to use all its length and tie a bow to my hanging plant.

In this corner I added a fall cloth place mat under the lamp and on it put a pumpkin (given to us by some friends), a few crab apples and leaves. I also tied burgundy and green ribbons to the candles on the wall. I also added a crab apple in front of each bow.

I also put another pumpkin in our entry way and then I headed out to the porch. I decided to put to use the scarecrow that I had made earlier this year for our fruit of the spirit (With a farming theme) classes at church this summer. I added some cornstalks and a pumpkin and I thought it had a nice harvest time look.

I had a lot of fun decorating. Doing something like that always makes me feel a little more excited about being a homemaker and having an inviting home. What have you done to make your house feel homey this season?