Goodbye Clutter....

This past Friday and Saturday we had a garage sale at our house. I had debated on whether to have one or not this year because they seem to be a lot of work. I had quite a few things pile up however that I wanted to get rid of and it seemed like a garage sale might be the most effective way to do it.

The sale went very well. My parents and Keren brought some stuff over and my sister Keren also came to help on Friday. I did put a simple add in the newspaper and put out a few signs. To simplify things I only priced a few things and then had a sign that said that everything was 50 cents each or 3/$1. I had many people comment on my low prices but I know I like to get good deals when I go to a garage sale and to be honest I was wanting to get rid of things.

We put out some items for free like a broken down bike, a little fridge that didn't work (we told them that), a pretty worn out treadmill and a broken desk chair. We were so pleased that people were willing to haul them off! We were also able to sell our big and heavy upright piano (because Mom and Dad had a nicer, smaller one waiting for me to have space- it had been my Grandma's). We also sold for a good price a brand new WII that Ken had won. (We decided that wasn't something we really wanted or had time for.) Another great thing about the sale was getting to talk to some people about church and our current kid's program and found some definite interest. I was pretty excited about that.

The old piano, ready to head out. It was a little bittersweet as I have had and enjoyed playing it all my married life.

Since this weekend was very nice for getting rid of stuff I was really in the mood for organizing our whole house, rearranging and getting rid of even more stuff. I had on my list for today: Fold about 5 baskets of clothes, wash and hang out on the line all our dirty laundry, rearrange and clean the living room and the boys room, clean the kitchen, mop floors and on and on.... I am not sure why I get quite so carried away with my planning but it seems to be part of my nature. Oh well, I never feel bored!

The new piano, isn't it sweet?

Well I didn't quite get that list done but I (the kids too actually) jumped in and got a lot done. A couple of hours into it I was sneezing like crazy from the dust we had stirred up (I am pretty sensitive to that). By the time Ken got home I was pretty much feeling sick. I thought about never cleaning again- which the kids thought was a great idea but Ken didn't seem to think so much of the idea. To bad! :-)
This past year has really left me desiring simplicity. It has been so easy to accumulate a lot of stuff. I am seriously not much of a shopper but that doesn't seem to matter, we have lots of stuff anyway. The truth is we need some stuff, here in Northern, MN we can't go outside in the winter unless we are properly clothed in winter gear, in order to learn we need good books, in order to make good food for my family I need the right equipment but at the same time there is much stuff in my life that I don't need. All it does is get in my way, make keeping my house clean a chore and adds stress to my life. It is my goal to get all of that stuff out of my house and passed on to someone that it brings joy to.
This simplifying process is something I am still in the middle of working on but I thought I would share some of the ideas that have helped me to make a little progress:
  1. Only keep those things that I know to be useful or believe to be beautiful or brings me joy. Of course the thing is when you have a family (and for us that is 6 different people) it takes a bit of figuring to find out how everybody sees the stuff we have. But we are working on figuring that out.
  2. Think long and hard before bringing anything new into the house! I visit very few garage sales because of this goal. When you do go to garage sales DO NOT feel like you have to buy something just to be nice. It is okay to look and leave without getting anything.
  3. Think "how many can actually use of this item?" I know that I will sometimes collect things because we use them but then the collection can get a little out of hand. For instance clothes for my 3 year old. I was given a bunch (which was nice because we needed some) but when they wouldn't all fit in her dresser I needed to make some decisions. I did some counting and decided that she probably didn't need 20 some t-shirts and a dozen or so pairs of shorts (especially since we have very few days that even reach 80!).
  4. As a general rule don't be sentimental. Of course I am not this way on everything but I am beginning to realize that I don't need to keep every letter that I have received over the course of my life! (Am I sounding a bit like a pack rat to you?)
  5. Be realistic! What are you ACTUALLY using? I have had a tendency to think "I will use that someday" or "we might have a baby over someday that will love to play with that toy". This year at the garage sale we got rid of some toys that the kids wanted to get rid of but I almost held onto because we might have somebody over that has kids that might want to play with them. Then I realized, you know what?! If we have a baby over they would probably enjoy playing with my plastic containers and wooden spoons as much as any of those toys.
  6. Just because we love to read doesn't mean we need to keep every book (which is lots! ) that we ever collected. Some books outdate, some aren't the quality that I really want for my kids and some I would rather actually use the computer to gain that information than look it up in some old book. It is alright to be picky! I also got rid of some cookbooks because I realize that if I need some certain recipe I can always find a bunch online, I don't need a dozen different cookbooks.

What are you tips for getting rid of clutter? I would love to hear them!

Bole Chudiyan...The Bangles Speaks

Asalam Alaikum,

One thing that was really fun in Pakistan was shopping for Bangles. When we went to the market there were many shops for bangles. They were typically small shops, very long and narrow, with the entire wall behind the counter covered in racks and racks of colorful glass bangles. It looked a little like this-

Picture from here.

You can buy plains sets of bangles that are already packaged but for some suits you bring the Dupatta(scarf) of the suit you are buying the bangles for because the shopkeeper will ask if you need "matching". He will take your Dupatta and in about 5 minutes he will show you something that looks a bit like this-

Some sets are very fancy for important functions(Wedding/Receptions, Etc.) and are encrusted with rhinestones, beads and glitter. Some sets are plain for daily use.

Something fun to do if you ever visit Pakistan!

Here is the title reference. It is a song from on of my favorite Indian movies, "Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham" And This is the same song but with English subtitles.

First Day Of School

Today was Charlotte's first day of preschool for this year. She brought flowers from our garden to her teachers (just like my mom did for us each first day of school). She has grown so much this past year. She has come out of her shell and really blossomed. I'm so excited to see what this year holds for her. My big girl.

Pink Boxes!

I've always wanted to try this one. Rather simple and straight forward - boxes and boxes of pink; alternating between lighter and darker pinks.

Pink polka dot backing fabric and yet another lighter shade of pink.

Nice! Am happy with the results.

Measurement : 39" W x 54" L
Made up o 100% mix cotton
Price : RM100
Status : SOLD!


This morning at church we enjoyed hearing a visiting friend (Billy Wallace) speak. He spoke on Hope and telling those around us in the world about the hope they can have through Jesus Christ.

The message really touched me and so I want to share some of the verses he used with you.

"For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." Romans 15:4

The Bible is ours to read, not just as a list of things for us to follow but to give us hope. I certainly feel that in my own life but I think at times I have struggled with getting that message across to others. I know one young woman who wanted to leave her life of sin (which was all she had ever known) but found following Christ to be pretty hard. It will be different and there will be change but it is my goal that I can encourage her to see the hope that is given in the Bible that you cannot find anywhere else in this world.

After all, Jesus says:

"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My load is light." Matt. 11:28-30

Chest Freezer Inventory

We have a crazy amount of cooling appliances in our house. We have 2 full sized refrig/freezers and a chest freezer. You'd think it would be too many... but we use them all almost to capacity.

In our kitchen fridg/freezer I keep things we use every day. The freezer is used for veggies for dinners, popsicles, juice concentrates, and chicken broth.

We keep another fridge/freezer combo in the playroom. The fridge is used to store my bulk flour and baking needs as well as overflow from the kitchen fridge. It's nice to have the room to stock up when things are on sale. The freezer section is used for meat and the tomatoes from my garden for the time being.

Then we have our chest freezer. I love this freezer since it holds so much and keeps it so cold with minimal freezer burn. The downside is that it's hard to know what's in the bottom since it's covered with stuff.

Today I decided to do an inventory of what's in there and keep that list posted on the freezer so I can mark things off as I use them. I'm hoping this helps things to be used instead of being stored forever. I got it done in about 10 minutes and thanks to my wool mittens, my hands stayed warm.

Here's a pic of my full freezer:
Here's everything laid out on the floor ready for counting.

Inside I had: 5 loaves of store bought bread
3 half loaves of homemade bread
8 bags of garden green beans
1 gallon jug of water/ice (you never know when you'll need a ice block for a cooler.
2 containers of lentil soup
6 bags whole blueberries
7 bags whole strawberries
1 2 c. bag of cherry puree
1 1 c. bag of cherry puree
1 Lg. bag of peach slices
6 4 C. bags of peach puree
1 2 C. bag of peach puree
1 qt. container of butternut squash
6 1 C. bags of strawberry puree
5 2 C. bags of strawberry puree
***Why so much puree, you ask? I plan to make flavored applesauce this fall and whatever I don't use in applesauce, I'll use to make more jam**
I love these little baskets that fit at the top of the freezer.
In one basket I have all my jams:
Strawberry- 3 Lg, 2 Med.
Peach - 6 Lg, 3 med, 11 small
Blueberry/strawberry 2 med, 4 small
In the other I have my applesauces and fruit butters:
Applesauce: 6 Lg. 1 med.
Applebutter: 17 med.
Peachbutter: 3 med.
I'm so glad I did this today. I didn't even remember that I had peach butter. I'm going to use it to make my applebutter muffins. I can't wait to see how the flavor changes with peach vs. apple butter.

Neighborhood Party

I haven't done much blogging this week because it has been just a wee bit busy around here. On Sunday night we got home from our little weekend bike trip, On Monday evening Ken and I drove over to Park Rapids (about an hour away) to attend a Republican event. On Tuesday evening we had a neighborhood party at our house and then this weekend we had a Garage Sale.
I really wanted to have a neighborhood party this year but felt like I just didn't have the time to put a lot of effort into it so we just had a simple one. That didn't stop it from being fun however. In fact of the 3 we have held this has been my favorite one for actually getting in some good visiting, and feeling like I really got to know some of my neighbors better. Also the kids had a wonderful time playing together which was really neat.

We ended up having around 30 people here. It wasn't a real large turn-out (probably due in part that I only gave them about 1 1/2 week notice) but I think 10 out of around 25 households were represented to it wasn't bad.

The kids playing an impromptu game of baseball
Here is what we did for our simple party:
  • I bought pretty paper at Dollar Tree and designed invitations on the computer and printed them out. They stated when and where it would be and asked them to bring a side dish or dessert and to RSVP if they could. (a little over half did RSVP - the others didn't.)
  • We went around and hand delivered them at each house 1 1/2 weeks before. I think 2-3 weeks would probably work better.
  • The morning of the party I went shopping and bought Hamburger patties, hot dogs, buns, cheese, lemonade, marshmallows, paper plates and helium balloons.
  • We took tables (an extra dining table, a folding table, a card table and a little kids play table) and chairs (folding, dining and camping chairs) out to the yard and set them up with simple cloth tablecloths on top.
  • We tied balloons to the mailbox and around the eating area.
  • We picked some garden flowers and put them in pint canning jars for centerpieces.
  • I cut up tomatoes, onions and lettuce for the hamburgers and got out other condiments.
  • We started a fire in the fire pit so that kids could roast hot dogs and marshmallows if they wanted to to. Also fire are just fun to relax around.
  • Ken grilled hamburgers.
  • The kids gave tours of the tree fort (which is getting close to done but is still in progress).

Neighbors brought various salads, beans and lots of desserts (were are still eating the ones that got left!). There was plenty of food to eat. We ladies had a lot of fun getting to know each other just sitting around eating. The men decided to try a game of horseshoes along with the visiting. They had fun visiting too however. I really am glad we had it as I like being able to know my neighbors better! Some of the neighbors we have had a chance to get to know before but others are pretty new neighbors and it was the first time we ever met them. We have had a lot of new neighbors move in in the last year so it was very nice to be able to meet a few!

Some of the group even stayed until dark!

Our party was very simple (but effective), someday I think it might be fun to have one that is a little more involved. Here are some links that have additional ideas for neighborhood parties:

I would love to hear any ideas you might have or about neighborhood parties you have held or gone to!

Not finished

Its taking me a long time, but I WILL GET THERE. Saw this 'Heart Quilt' design and thought I'd try it ......

..... got carried away and did a few hearts, then a few more, and a few more. It's not yet finished and am excited to see how it will turn out ;-). Will post the end result soon I hope.

Hauck Apollo 4 All in One Travel Set

The Apollo 4 Stroller/Pushchair, from Hauck, has everything you need. The car seat fits easily onto the base allowing for minimum disruption for your sleeping baby.The stroller is lightweight and easily manoeuvrable with swivel lockable wheels. With the seat unit, carrycot, handy changing bag plus the Zero Plus Car seat for when you go out and about, the Hauck Apollo 4 All in One has everything you will ever need. Suitable from birth when used with the Zero Plus Car Seat, the Apollo 4 is a compact and manoeuvrable stroller with lockable front swivel wheels. The adjustable lie-flat backrest enables baby to be flat during those important first few months and the 5-point safety belt will keep baby safe. The detachable bumper bar makes access to baby easy, and the detachable hood is great for keeping baby comfortable. The large spacious shopping basket is great for those baby essentials or for those essential shopping trips!.
The Set includes Hauck Apollo 4 Stroller/Pushchair , Zero Plus Car Seat, Carrycot, Boot Cover, Changing Bag and Raincover.

Pushchair Features:
  • Suitable from birth when used with the Zero Plus Car Seat.
  • Lockable front swivel wheels.
  • Adjustable lie-flat backrest.
  • Five-point safety belt.
  • Detachable bumper bar.
  • Detachable hood.
  • Large shopping basket.
Pushchair Sizes:
  • Open: 96cm x 54cm x 111cm.
  • Folded: 87cm x 54cm x 41cm.
  • Seat Width: 31cm.
Weight: 11.5 kg

Zero Plus Car Seat Features:
  • Ergonomic-styled handlegrip with 1 hand adjustment
  • Includes seatbelt pad & headrest protector
  • Central belt adjustment Extra lightweight (under 3kgs)
  • Detachable, full-shell styropfoam-inlay
  • Extra light (less than 3 kg)
  • Removable, washable seat cover
  • Combines with Hauck Strollers/Pushchairs to become a Travel System
  • Group 0 +
  • ECE 44/04
Age suitability: Birth to 13 kg

To Frog or Not To Frog, That is the Question

Okay, I need some help here. I want some honest opinions.
I'm knitting a hat for a child and I thought by combining a pink wool with a pink/camo sock yarn, I'd get a nice cozy hat with some interesting colors. I'm not sure if I like the results. I don't want to knit further until I know if it's pretty or if I've been staring at it too long.

So, please tell me, should I frog this (meaning rip it out) or is it pretty). Please be honest! Remember some child, probably mine, will be walking around in public with this on her head.

The colors are pretty true to what they look like in person. The camo colors are a light to medium grey-olive green.

The Four Legged Family Members

In this corner, weighing in at 5 pounds, we have Oscar the Chihuahua. He is the sweetest Chihuahua I have ever met. He loves everyone! Even children. We adopted him when he was a young adult so we figure he is about 8-10 years old. His true love is Jon. Oscar follows Jon around when he's home and when Jon is working, Oscar sleeps. About 4:30 each day, the daycare kids leave and Oscar takes his place by the front door.... watching... waiting.. for Jon to come home. He'll stay there for hours sometime on the days when Jon works late.
Oscar also "sings" with you when you howl. I've never seen a chihuahua howl but he does.

Here's my sweet Gracie. Can you tell how annoyed she was with me for taking her pictures. She's the boss of the 4 legged creatures around here. I found her in a dumpster when she was 12 weeks old.... that was 10 years ago. I've never been one to love cats but I love my Gracie. She doesn't like to be picked up because it wasn't her idea. As soon as I lay on the couch though, she's laying on top of me waiting to be scratched. When I was pregnant, she would not leave my side.... she had to lay with me constantly. She's very tolerant of children. She'll let them read books on her head, poke at her eyes, rub her fur in the wrong direction... she doesn't care as long as she doesn't have to move from her comfy spot.
Oscar has been known to chase a kitty or two but when Gracie turns around and stands her ground, you have never seen a more terrified dog in your life!

And then there is Lucky. He looks pretty cute, doesn't he? Jon got him as a kitten the week after we started dating. That makes him almost 8 years old. Lucky is from another planet. We're convinced he hears voices. He follows Jon around (along with Oscar) everywhere.... even into the bathroom to wait by the shower door until he comes out. He eats his food, Gracie's food, and even the dog food. You can't appreciate how fat this cat is from his pictures. He's a good 14-16 pounds. He is NOT tolerant of children... or even adults sometimes and isn't afraid to bite. He licks nylon webbing, likes to jump up in doorways to try to scratch the door frame, and likes to smack sleeping animals. He's .... umm.... unique!

great swimmers

Giving her brother a 'wedgy'...

C&C spent Monday -Tuesday overnight with me. We had THREE swims in a short time frame...

Baby Trend High Chair

Baby Trend Nambia High Chair The Nambia High Chair comes fully assembled - simply open the frame and snap on the wheels! The chair features a 4 position

Baby Trend Regular Size Diaper Champ

Video review of the Baby Trend Regular Size Diaper Champ - clean, neat and a must-have!

Butternut Squash Soup

This is my favorite soup. It's simple, delicious, and good for you.

You'll need about 4 cups of butternut squash puree for this recipe. That is usually 1 really huge squash, 2 medium squash.... or 3 tiny baby squash grown from my garden plus 1 I got from the
farmers market. Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, lay them cut side down in a baking dish, cover them with foil. Bake at 375 for 30-45 minutes or until you can easily stick a fork all the way through the flesh.
(notice I tried to peel the one on the right.... gave up after only a second or two. It's much easier to bake it)
Let the squash cool and scoop out the flesh of the squash. Set it aside while you get the onions ready.

In a med-large pot, melt 1 Tbsp. butter and 1 Tbsp. oil (I used Olive). Then add 1-2 chopped onions (depending on how much you like onion) You want to sweat these... not brown!

You should hear them quietly sizzling but no loud frying sounds. These are going to take a while to get as soft as you need them to be. Remember... NO browning!

If you want a slightly sweeter soup, you can add a chopped apple to your soup. I used a pink lady apple but any will do. You want these really soft too so cook them along with the onion.

After the onions (and optional apple) are REALLY soft, put these in the food processor (with the pulp from the butternut squash. Add chicken broth if you need to in order to make a smooth puree.

Add the puree back to the pot (over med heat) and stir in chicken broth (reduced sodium or homemade... recipe next week). I think I used about 3 cups. Just keep adding chicken broth until it's the consistency you like. Taste for salt. If you used store bought chicken broth, you may not have to add any salt. My chicken broth didn't have any salt in it so I added about 2 tsp.

Bring your soup to a boil. HAVE THE POT LID NEARBY! When this comes to a boil, if it's as thick as mine, it will send hot soup flying from the pot! Keep the lid on while it simmers and take it off the heat long enough to stir it from time to time. Taste it for salt and then check to make sure you can't taste any bits of undercooked onion. If you can still taste/feel onion, cook it until you can't any longer. Then it's ready to serve!

I'm lucky that the rest of my family won't eat this... more for me!!

Best Baby Strollers

If you are looking for the best baby strollers, make sure you get a wide array of choices such as baby jogger stroller, double baby stroller, baby travel stroller


Asalam Alaikum,


Wow. Sorry but some ranting will follow. (not many pictures because for the more obvious reasons we didn't go out a whole lot) If you don't want to read the rant, then skip to the end where there are some positives.

Lets get the worst complaints out of the way first - Load Sharing. I hate Load Sharing. Load Sharing(if you are lucky) means that 2-3 time in a day your power will go out for about an hour. If you are not lucky, Load Sharing means that your power will come ON for 1 hour 2-3 times a day. This is a really annoying problem because it is HOT in Pakistan, load sharing means no fans, lights, tv, fridge, and you can just forget about AC, because even if you have power the voltage is probably not enough to run it.

Not having electricity causes a cascade of related problems, without power you can't run the pumps that fill the tank on your roof, so no showers, no water for cleaning/cooking/drinking. Also you can't buy too many perishable items because if you stock up and then the lights go out for almost all of a week then everything goes bad(this had a beneficial side effect- all food is pretty fresh as you have to go to the market just about everyday.) To look on the bright side of things, I guess it helps the environment that we don't use as much energy as we would if the power was on.

Hearing gunshots is a something that happens pretty often, we call it Firing. When ever anything happens you take your gun and go up to your roof and fire at least 4-5 shots straight up. This happens for engagements, weddings, birth of children, on National Day, and when Pakistan wins a really big Cricket match against Sri Lanka. You get so used to it that you don't even notice it very much.

I do understand why they feel like this, but something that made me a bit nervous was the posters telling Americans to get out of Pakistan, with pictures of an angry mob and a raised fist on it. This was another reason that The DH and I did not go out too much, even when I didn't speak I got a lot of rude stares, and when I did speak it was worse.

Enough complaining for now, there was some good things. Food, food in Pakistan can be really amazing(after your immune system adjusts). Most things are fresh(see above regarding electricity), cooked right in front of you. Bread cooked in a tandoor, Jalebiand Samosa with Raita freshly made at tea time, which the DH would sometimes bring. One fruit that I especially liked was the Falsa berries, they sort of look like blueberries but are a little sour and have a big seed inside. They usually sell them with a little packet of masala(mixed spices), and you just sprinkle it on and eat. One of the best things was when we went to the market we had Falooda, they have Falooda in Abu Dhabi but the one in Pakistan is better.

Inshallah I will have more to post soon, But I have to organize my thoughts a bit.

Fairy Bronte

Some Layouts to Share

Just a quick post of some layouts to share.