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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Cutting the Budget-2 Easy Ways

Proverbs 31:27~ She looketh well to the ways of her household.

Today I am sharing two super EASY ways to help slash your budget, B.O.W. girls. Many of you have talked about budget cutting and financial advice. Almost 3 years ago, we slid from a two income family to a one income family that homeschools. Even though you can find creative and inexpensive ways to homeschool, it still creates more meals, etc. having them at home, all the while still paying school taxes for your district. For a school system you do not use. I began to search for creative ways to "cut the budget" so to speak.

The Lord has been faithful, and provided for my lost income with a new opportunity for my husband. The catch? We had to travel to a new state and pretty much "fly by the seat of our pants." We usually only get 2 weeks notice if we are leaving, or staying. We have a 6 member household to pack up and that makes this mama melt down. We have already moved once while living in the new state, and had to pack up our home in the other state so that we could sell it. That makes 3 "move jobs" in about 2 1/2 years. Not fun.

The first placed I looked was around my own home. How can I cut down on the excess in my home? Groceries was out--I have growing kiddos and a hubby to feed and he didn't want the cut there. Besides, our grocery budget isn't that bad considering how many we feed. A Sam's Club membership also comes in handy, and occasional couponing. NO, I am NOT an extreme couponer, but don't feel bad if YOU are.

Super Easy Homemade Detangling Spray:

My girls are as different as you can imagine. The oldest has long, straight and mid thick hair. That gets tangled. A lot. The youngest has the cutest curls that almost spring. That gets tangeld. A lot. Tired of running out of detangling spray and paying the prices, not to mention some of the junk in them, I stumbled upon a way to make my own. On the cheap. 

Now I use Organix Coconut Oil conditioner (from Wal-Mart) or other all natural conditioner. I got mine on clearance! Sure, you pay a little more up front but the one bottle has lasted close to a year. Imagine how much you are saving. However, you can cut your budget further if you use another brand, many go for less than $1 a bottle.

I reused an old empty bottle from the last Detangling spray I bought, but you can just buy a simple $1 bottle from the store. Anything works.

  1. Fill the bottle with water
  2. Add about 1 to 1 & 1/2 tsp of conditioner. Experiment and find out how much you need for your bottle. Too much, and it will be greasy, which translates to greasy hair. Especially the Coconut Oil.
  3. Shake
  4. Spray
Really super easy, huh? You can use anything that you have on hand.

Super Easy Heavy Duty Laundry Detergent, gentle enough for babies & kids:

I remember well the days of using two separate laundry detergents. One for my babies/kids, and one for us. We have a lot of eczema/sensitive skin around here so I didn't want to use the harsh chemicals in regular detergent. Even though I used it on my own sensitive skin to cut down on laundry-go figure. I paid for it. Literally. That brand is expensive!

I stumbled upon some different homemade detergent recipes, but many were too complicated or were liquid. I wanted a powder, but sometimes powder is harsh. Then, I found one but put my own spin on it. If you are worried about super sensitive skin in babies, you can skip the Essential Oil step. Actually, you can skip that anyway if you really want to cut costs. I just love the smell, but even without it, this detergent still has a nice smell. 

My husband works in an automobile factory. He gets dirty...and sweaty. He may be crawling around/under/over and in cars on the assembly line, "playing in primer", building stuff, fixing stuff, or welding and his clothes are filthy. Recently, his boss has remarked several times that she needed to find out what it was I used to get his clothes so clean because he always leaves work filthy. So, here it is (you can double, triple, etc. to get however much you want):

  • 3 bars plain Ivory soap~ make sure it is the plain kind as pictured above, in the blue package.
  • 2 cups Borax
  • 2 cups Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda~not the laundry detergent.
  • 8-10 drops Lavender essential oil~ this is completely optional, but smells so good. If you use Young Living or some other more concentrated oil, you may need less. I purchase my oil at Kroger (in the organic section), GNC, Whole Foods, or a local organic/health store here close by.
  • Mixing bowl
  • Grater
  • Storage container~ the storage canister I have, came from Dollar Tree for $1.
  1.  Grate the Ivory Soap into the mixing bowl. You can use the large or small holes, it is up to you. I prefer the larger ones-saves tons of time and arm power!
  2. Pour the Borax and Arm & Hammer into the bowl.
  3. Mix it all together.
  4. Add the optional essential oil.
  5. Mix again.
  6. Pour into your storage container
Finally, when you are ready to use this, use 2 tablespoons per load. YES! You only need 2 tablespoons for an extra large load. For a small load, you can use 1 tablespoon if you would like, but I have used 2 and it turned out fine.

Share some of you budget cutting tips with us today. Have you ever made homemade cleaning/beauty products? Share those with us!

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Clay Fun and a Life Lesson

Today was supposed to be a really great day. I had supper cooking in the crockpot, and had some fun fellowship in our Built on Wisdom, affectionately called B.O.W., community. I had a lot of ideas running around in my head for some really fun ideas with the kiddos and for future blog posts. Then, LIFE happened...and so did learning...on my part as well.

You see, mamas, life is not Pinterest perfect. It is not always blog worthy. Mercy, sometimes it's not even Kodak worthy. But it's real....and it's beautiful....and it's hard. Oh, it's hard. As we begin to tackle the book Desperate by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson next month, you will see that. 

I have always loved Sarah Mae's writings, and for even longer, I have looked up to Sally Clarkson. Previewing this book selection, and beginning to read it, my heart was comforted as I realized that these two ladies are REAL. They share that realness in the book. Take heart mom, I'm going to tell you a little secret I am sure of. NO ONE finishes everything they "pin" on Pinterest! Everyone has "off" days, "weary" days, "REAL" days. Take comfort in knowing that.

Some favorite verses of mine in the weary seasons:

  •  Galatians 6:9~ And let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:24~ Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it. (this reminds me that when I had these babies, He called me to motherhood. He didn't leave me to do it on my own. He will help me, even in my weakness.)
  • 2 Corinthians 12:9~ And He said to me,"My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (right there says it. His strength is made perfect in MY weakness. He will help me.)
Now, for the clay fun and life happens moment. It is my sincere desire to remain real with you all. Both the ugly AND the pretty, and I trust that you will do the same.

Easy Homemade Salt Clay:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1/2-3/4 cup water (3/4 cup works better, add more if it doesn't knead easy)
  • Food coloring (optional-this just changes the color to whatever you want)
Mix together all of the salt, flour and oil in a bowl.

Add water and mix, begin to knead by hand, adding more water if the dough is too flaky and not easily molded.

Gradually put food color in and mix/knead as you go. Be careful with little hands! Food coloring stains. I got it good and mixed up before I had them knead it. Add more food coloring and splashes of water as needed. This takes quite a bit of food coloring. You can separate the batches if you want to make several colors. We just did a big blob of red this time. We took it out onto wax paper for easier kneading for little hands-the mixing bowl was deep.

Finally! The finished product, separated out for each girl. Kinda looks like hamburger!!

For more fun, roll the dough out and use cookie cutters to shape it. Then, bake in the oven at 350 for about 15 minutes, turning after 8 minutes, or until the dough is dark and tough. This idea came from the book, Creative Crafts for Clever Kids Exciting Projects from Everyday Stuff. This book is amazing! So many items that you already have ON HAND are used in many of these crafts.

Now for the REAL part. If I were to leave this blog as is, or post the idea to Pinterest, you would think, wow! That looks like so much fun and blah...blah...blah. Truth is? We did have a ball. My little girl even gave us a "lesson". As I was kneading the food coloring into the dough, we remarked how it looked like a "real" heart, not a "Valentine" heart. My 6 year old then piped up, "When you put the red food coloring on it, it looks like blood. Just like the blood Jesus shed." WOW.

Then, life sets in. We had to pick her oldest brother up from basketball camp in 30 minutes, so we set the clay aside in freezer bags to play with when we got home. While doing this, I hear my 4 year old hollering that she was locked in our bedroom. Apparently, the 6 year old thought it would be hilarious to lock the door, from the inside, and slam it before the 4 year old could get out.

Guess what? Yeah, the 4 year old couldn't figure out how to turn the lock from the inside. We talked her through it step by step. I finally called my 12 year old son to talk her through it through the door, (these two have an amazing bond), and while doing it, he was easing her fears. She was crying. I even tried to break down the door.......HA HA HA! Mom vs. Door and the door wins. THIS TIME.

My kids reminded me of how I had locked us out of the apartment a few weeks ago and tried to "pick" the lock with my debit card. Maybe it would work this time. Great debit card was locked in the room with the 4 year old. My 12 year old son remembered that B, my oldest son, had a gift card in his wallet. He got it out...we "picked" the lock, and my daughter was free! A little teary eyed, but free.

So, I fussed. I struggled to find the appropriate punishment. I grounded her from the iPad and the TV. It kept getting worse. As I would scold her, or "ground" her, she would smile as if it was no big deal. I became weary. Tired. the lines of the book Desperate...I began praying for God to teach me how to parent. How to discipline and how to reach my child. I know that He will. I also know that I am blessed beyond measure that these precious gifts call me "mama" and love them very much.

Have you ever had a Desperate moment? Have you reached out to the One who can help you be the mom that you want to be? Share with us.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

What's Cooking? B.O.W. club 6/25/13

Image courtesy of Photobucket

The hard question comes everyday, "Mom! What's for dinner?" We are all in a busy season of life around here so many of our meals are pretty 'quick' meals. I just dropped my oldest son off to volunteer at the church's basketball camp, and his brother will join him later in the week. So this week, it's all about simplicity. Here's what is cooking at our house today, and a 'guest post' by my son, who fixed a fantastic desert this week-perfect for summertime!

Chicken Italian with Angel Hair Pasta:

*Note: this recipe will feed my family of 6, including one dad and two growing teen boys, and yields leftovers. I use one of the large crockpots, if you have a smaller one, adjustments will need to be made and I will put those in parentheses

  1. 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cut into cubes for smaller crock, I place whole ones in the big pot frozen, after thawing a little overnight in the fridge)
  2. 3/4 of a 65 ounce bag of Normandy blend frozen veggies, or frozen veggies of choice (for a smaller crock, use a smaller bag and fill not quite to top)
  3. 3/4 of a bottle of Italian dressing (again, for a smaller crock, just cover the veggies and chicken)
  4. 1 box Angel Hair Pasta (I prefer to use Barilla Plus which is multigrain)
  • Place the chicken in the crock first. For the bigger pot, just lay all three breasts in. You can split them if you want but mine are usually partially frozen. After cooking awhile, I usually cut them up. For a smaller crock, cut your chicken in cubes and place it in.
  • Cover the chicken with the frozen veggies.
  • Cover the chicken and the veggies with the Italian dressing, soaking all of it as good as you can. For a large crock, this usually takes anywhere from 3/4 to 1 whole bottle, but you can cover to taste as well.
  • Cook on low all day. The smell is amazing! I usually start it around 9 a.m. and turn my crockpot on warm about 6-7 hours later. Toward the end, I cut or shred the chicken-it is very soft at this point-and mix everything up
  • When it is getting close to dinner time, boil the Angel Hair Pasta. I use a few drops of Olive Oil instead of butter to prevent stickiness. Olive oil has many health benefits! Drain pasta well.
  • To serve: place Angel Hair pasta on plate and put chicken/veggie mix from crock on top. I also like to spoon some of the 'juice' over the pasta as well.
SO EASY and SO good!! Now, L, my 12 year old son is going to tell you about the Lemonade Stand Pie he made from the cookbook, If I Gotta Cook Make It Quick! He was assisted in this recipe by his 4 and 6 year old sisters, so this is something you can get the whole family involved in!

Lemonade Stand Pie:

Hey, this is L, bringing deliciousness into your home! I'm going to tell you how to make this simple, delicious recipe in 5 easy steps. Here is the recipe for Lemonade Stand Pie:

6 ounces of lemonade (any kind)
2 cups of ice cream (vanilla)
8 ounces of whipped cream
1 8-inch graham cracker crust

1. Start by pouring the lemonade into an electric mixer (or you can hand mix it, whichever is easier for you). Mix on low speed for 30 seconds.

2. Slowly pour in the ice cream.  The mix will look a little weird, but it will get better, trust me. 

3. Slowly pour in the whipped cream.  The mix should start thickening.

4. Pour the mix into the graham cracker crust. You can make your own, or buy a crust from the store. We bought a crust from the store.

5. Freeze, then let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Enjoy! 

Now, get out there and enjoy this day with your kiddos, knowing supper AND desert can be taken care of very quickly!

Do you have any 'quick' go to recipes you could share with us? If so, please let us know in the comments below or on the Facebook page. Thank you!

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Monday, June 24, 2013

Our Story part 6

After the amazing night I witnessed with my son, I knew it was time to do something about it. Our friend, the Neurologist's nurse, was amazed as well. She knew that a new MRI needed to be performed-specifically the one that they were unable to get to better locate the "trouble area" and keep them from going in "blind" during surgery. She told me that the new MRI was scheduled for the next week and to bring him right away, very early that morning.

The rest of the weekend was pretty amazing. We didn't "see" any seizures out of him. This was the first time in over a month that my son had been free of these things. Could they have disappeared as quickly as they came? His right arm and hand gradually began gaining a little more strength. We were able to sleep a little better at night, although we still slept with "one eye open."

The next week rolled around. We got up bright and early-not so easy for a kiddo on a lot of meds or parents lacking sleep, not only due to the seizures, but because we had a 7 month old and 2 year old as well. We headed to a different MRI "suite" this time. Instead of in the Radiology Department, this one was completed in the outside truck. Because of the nature, and the tests required during it, it seemed like hours before he came out. To this day I am still amazed how many tests, especially MRI's, that this kid went through unsedated. That machine scares me to death!

We went home assured that we would be contacted with the results when they became available. In medical speak, that could be a day or it could be a week. Since his case was so complex, we were counting on the latter as a bare minimum.

During the wait time, he was still taking Physical and Occupational Therapy. He began to increase a little in strength. The Physical Therapist, a loving man I had the privilege to work with for several years, noticed a big difference in him. He came over and sat next to me and said, "Wow! What happened? That kid must have a GREAT Therapist!" He was grinning from ear to ear. I just asked him, "Have you ever heard of the power of prayer?"' I was amazed myself. I KNEW there was only one explanation, but I was truly in awe myself. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. All those tears wondering if he would ever talk normally again. If he would ever regain the strength in his right arm/hand again-he had let it lay limp for so long and many times we had to move it around for him as he lay in bed or sat at the computer.

Yet here he was, at Physical Therapy, using it. It wasn't "tied" to the machine anymore. Granted, it was still weak, but they didn't have to tie it to the machine to exercise it. He was playing the Wii to work on his balance. I couldn't believe it. Another co-worker and friend who was there with her husband at the time, was amazed at his progress as well. Her husband was too and even he was making a pretty fantastic recovery. I wanted to cry. Actually, I think I may have shed a tear or two.

Still waiting for the phone call, we began to live life as "normal" as we could, which was far more "normal" than it had been for some time. We were getting anxious for the test results to come back. Surgery was STILL scheduled and it was creeping up on us. A little over a week and a half away. I was adamant that he was not going into that surgery suite until we had some answers.

We headed to town for some things and were on the way home, driving on our curvy road. My cell phone rang. It was the Neurology office! We had been waiting for this call for some time. Figuring the call would take some time and my full attention, I pulled over to the side of the road and answered it......

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Online Mom Community Update

Built on Wisdom
(group name)

Proverbs 14:1~ The wise woman builds her home, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down. (NIV 84)

We had a really good response to the Online Community idea and I am so thankful for each of you that contacted me and shared your heart with me, whether it was months ago or recently, I listened to each one of those concerns. Over the last several months, it has laid heavy on my heart.

With our hectic schedules these days, it's hard to find Titus 2 mentors, let alone others who are in similar stages as us. Add to that those of us who homeschool, and well....our days are pretty full. It is my prayer that this time together will draw us closer to our Lord Jesus, and to one another, even though the miles separate us.

We mentioned a Book Club before. I still envision that but want to add a disclaimer: IT IS NOT REQUIRED. Yes, there will be a day when we "discuss" the current book selection, and occasionally other posts about it, but the "book" is only one part of it...and not the biggest part. Not everyone can afford books for all of the many studies they are doing, or even just the one, and I laid awake last night with that on my heart too. So, I took that to heart.

It looks like Desperate by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson, won out as the recommended book for our reading this time! There are 14 chapters in this book, as well as a Conclusion. We plan to read 1 Chapter a week, and discuss it. The awesome thing about this book, is that it has a website link, as well as a QR code for your smartphone, for a short video after each chapter. There are also neat applications in the back called "Your Turn" and "Something to Do." Most of these are fairly neutral so even if you are not reading the book with us, grab your Bible and join in! This book is the ULTIMATE book in creating community and searching for mentors. Sally mentored Sarah, and this is what the book was birthed from.

The main idea behind this community is SHARING. Easy recipes, tips, advice, and fun crafts to do with your kids will be shared-many of them based on training your children in the love and admonition of the Lord Jesus Christ in a fun way. We will also journey through parts of the Bible together with short reading assignments.Come, pick an activity and then ENJOY the weekend with your family! As I stated in this post, we want this to be a place for you to gather, but not stay all day or all week. We want you out there loving your kiddos. 

The Facebook page will be opening SOON! It's a private group for private discussion. Watch for a post in the coming days for more about the style and schedule.

The full schedule will begin on Friday, July 19th!!!!! That gives you plenty of time if you would like to purchase the OPTIONAL book to go along with the study.

Contact me here, or on my Facebook page for more info!!!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Online Fellowship for Moms Starting Up!

Have you ever prayed for a Titus 2 friend? One who would encourage you right where you are, in the day to day reality of motherhood? How about fellowship in a community of other moms living right where you are? Encouraging one another in this beautiful calling of motherhood, as well as in your marriage?

Something has laid heavy on my heart for a while, as I have prayed for years for like minded friends and Titus 2 mentors. Much of our interaction today is "virtual" as we raise babies, some homeschool, and others work from home. The days are long, and the nights seem short.

I would like to introduce you to just such a community starting up. Built on Wisdom, from Proverbs 14:1~ The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down. 

This community would bring together women from all walks of life. Spurring one another on in the admonition and love of the Lord Jesus Christ, their spouse, and their children.

How would this work? Well, a lot like a book club combined with fellowship. We will pick a book to read over a period of time-1 chapter a week as to not keep you too busy with community and neglect your household. A short weekly Bible reading would be included. For more sense of community, a Facebook page would be started. A day or two a week, we would discuss what we are reading, what we are learning, and any other concerns you may have. Many of these books are written by those I consider to fit the bill perfectly for Titus 2:4-5.

Many of us have a hard time finding time for interaction, or even those who are in the stage of life we are in. This would create a way to fellowship with women from all over, in every walk of life. To laugh together, to cry together, and to grow together. 

*UPDATE- one day a week, we will also include fun activities and recipes for you to do over the weekend with your kids! Many of these ideas will come from my own kids. From time to time, there will also be meal planning sheets/advice, planning, etc. I am also contacting "mentors" to guest post from time to time. Stay tuned!!

Not all book selections will always focus on homeschool, but occasionally we will see those that do. Feel free to skip the studies when we do those if they do not apply. None of these are affiliate links, please click the links to read more about each book. These are the ones up for consideration for the first study:
The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson

SO many choices.....and I have tons more, but that is for a later date. question to you is, are you interested in joining? Dates to be announced later after I see how many are interested. For the Facebook community, go 'like' my page and let me know there, that you would like to be placed in the group. We will have to become 'friends' on my personal FB page as well, more info on that later.

Share below if this is something you would interest you.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

My Reading List 2013-2014 and a Life Lesson...Simplify!

But regarding anything beyond this, dear friends, go easy. There's no end to the publishing of books, and constant study wears you out so you're no good for anything else. The last and final word is this: Fear God. Do what he tells you.
(Ecclesiastes 12: 12-13, The Message)

Books!! Oh how I love them! I have been in a fog the last couple of years and haven't been reading quite as much as I used to. I used to read them through in less than a week and read through the Gospels several times in a year. I lost that passion. 

As I was pondering on this, and reading another blogger's reading list, the verses above came to mind. I looked them up in several translations, and really identified with the Message version. Odd because I normally don't read that version even though I own several versions and several types of Bibles. 

When I look back over the last several years, I see so many books that I have read and MUCH studying that I have done, however, I have neglected nourishing my soul with my Bible, as well as just reading for pleasure. Not to learn something else. Not to fix yet another problem in my life. Just to READ. NONE of the time spent in my love obsession of Inductive Study was wasted, although sometimes I just need to read my Bible and listen for Him to speak to me instead of constant study mode. I even took a Seminary class last fall. In that class, I even wrote a 10 page paper analyzing the prayer of Jesus in John Chapter 17. Yeah, I am a study geek.

This year, actually most of the latter part of the Spring up until now, the word "Simplify" seems lodged spoken in my heart. After the hectic year we have's no wonder! It's time that I listen to that still small voice again and get quiet before Him. It's time to cuddle up with some good books and my Bible. 

My List for 2013-2014 (none of these are affiliate links, just linked for your viewing)

I just finished reading this book last week and was absolutely blown away! It will probably remain as my favorite all time book.

I have already read this book once, but guess what? I am now on my second go through. I am sure I will read it for the third time before the year is over. Yep--it's that good!

Yep, this book is by the same author as the previous book. This was the first one I read, and might I add, one of the homeschool books I would recommend to everyone-as well as Called Home, her other book. She has two amazing blogs, Simply Living for Him and Bible Based Homeschooling on a Budget. And......SQUEAL......I hear that her next book, based upon her year using the Bible as the main text for their school year, and the reason for her latter site, will be released SOON. I cannot wait. IT will also be on this list! Her blogs are SO encouraging and she is a sweet lady-I connected with her when Simply Homeschool came out and reviewed it on Amazon. Ah-maze-ing!!!

I LOVE Courtney's blog over at Women Living Well Ministries. I read it often. I have also done Online Bible Studies, and lead a small group, for Good Morning Girls. *Sigh*, this book is not available until October 1st, but I will be ordering it when it is!

After reading a biography on Gladys Alyward prior to Kisses From Katie, I became fascinated with true stories about Missionaries. Spreading the Gospel all over the world. I am blessed to not only attend a Mission minded church, but to have met two Missionary friends through Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible Studies with Melissa Taylor. I am humbled, honored, and amazed to hear about, and at times, (thank you YouTube), to be able to 'watch' their work. It is amazing, but such hard work. I do not have the 'romantic' view of missions...I have seen and heard how hard it really is and how amazing it is to see God provide for them.

This is our book for our Online Bible Study starting July 28th, at Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible Studies with Melissa Taylor. There is still time to sign up if you are interested!

This is the final study of this year at Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible Studies. I am super excited for this one. I missed it the first time around, and so glad that they decided to revisit this one!

This is not an exhaustive list, I am sure that I will be adding more to it as time goes on. This is only what I have came across so far. We plan to focus A LOT on Missionaries/Mission work this year in school, so I have a ton of items for that. That, however, is for another post. I am really on a biography, non-fiction kick lately so much of my selections will/do reflect that.

So, join me in this path to simplicity if you would like. Share what you are reading this year, or what you have read. Include the impact that the book had on you, if any.