Friday, July 31, 2009

Link Roundup, MAMA MAMA MAMA Edition

Goose is such a great kid. But she's still two, and lately, once I get her put down for the night, I just want to collapse! She's been wanting to be held, but won't let me sit down to do it. This evening, she must have said MAMA a hundred times, just because. Lately she's been running off when it's time to do something like brush her teeth, and it's very important to me that she learn to obey - and at the first request. I feel that the first step in teaching her to obey God, who she can't see, is to obey us, who she can see.

Anyway. My garden is going great guns; I picked a dozen tomatoes and decent pile of green beans, and a cousin picked a bigger pile of beans today. (Note to self, check tomatoes tomorrow.) I think my onions are ready to come out - and I was remembering that in a Laura Ingalls Wilder book, they braided the tops. Wonder if that would work for me? I tried the pantyhose thing with a knot between each with some success, though I think my real problem is lack of a spot that is neither too warm nor too cool. Indian corn is looking good, potatoes are looking good, and gourds are taking over the block, still. Mercy!

Here are this week's finds:

Funny how I'm not yet a huge believer in themed-birthday parties with lots of kids, but I can't help collecting birthday party ideas. This time, it's a circus party at Let's Explore.

When Cook's Illustrated speaks, I listen. This time, it's freezing fruit.

Melissa at Chasing Cheerios couldn't get her wedding rings off her swollen-from-pregnancy hands, and finally went to the doctor who did a modified version of this trick with a piece of slick string. Suggested by Meredith at Like Merchant Ships, no less.

I've heard of removing kids to their room during a tantrum, but not putting a timer on it! I know Goose sometimes seems to get worked up just for the sake of getting worked up . . . (@ The Toby Show)

Hearing about the mess factor makes me a tiny bit skeptical, but the pull of make your own moon sand will likely overcome me eventually. (at Skip to my Lou)

This tutorial on make your own olive oil lamp at Down to Earth is interesting. I especially like how they float the oil on water so you don't need as much sitting out and getting rancid.

McCormick (the spice people) has a page where you can find the formula for different colors using food coloring. Of course, all that dye probably isn't the best thing for a person, but special times call for special measures.

File this under "can't believe I haven't linked to it before" - my friend Angela has a tutorial on making very cute hooded toddler bath towels. So cute and easy!

Thankfully Goose isn't in to makeup yet, but that day is coming! I LOVED this idea on using nail polish and old makeup containers to make pretend makeup at Parent Hacks.

I'm still not quite sure what exactly "oobleck" is, but it looks interesting. (Maybe it's related to the "gak" I have in my favorites somewhere?) Anyway, the mysteries of corn starch, water, and food coloring cannot be denied. (at Skip to My Lou)

Make alphabet block magnets at Plum Pudding. I might keep an eye out for garage sale blocks to do this!

We're not quite into "bling" yet, but this glittery gem dough at Frugal Family Fun Blog looks so funky!

If you're wondering whether God really listens, go read A Boy, A Duck, and a Prayer at Catholic Exchange, by Patti Armstrong. I was laughing and crying by the end.

Jen at Conversion Diary has a great post that sums up why I love the universality of the Catholic Church. A very well-traveled friend once told me that the rhythm of the Our Father is the same in nearly every language, too.

Also over at Conversion Diary, Jen posted on how choosing patience helped her to grow. Good stuff.

Happy surfing!

Bathtub Fingerpaint and Crayons - Frugal Flop

Always try it out before giving it as a gift. These words rang in my ears a few months ago. I intended to make bathtub finger paint and crayons for Goose for Easter this year. We ended up getting invited to a cousin's first birthday party around the same time, so I thought I'd just make extra of Goose's stuff and give it away.

To be honest, I now can't find the links to the recipes that I used. Probably just as well. As I remember, I grated a bunch of Ivory soap, and added hot water and food coloring and mixed. Even though I added WAY more food coloring than indicated (I used gel), the color didn't show up on the tub. We even tried it on paper, and it didn't show up there, either! But, look how prettily I packaged it for the birthday boy:I wrapped them in waxed paper and printed labels in different colors to stick down the ends. I then stacked three crayons and tied a ribbon around them. The card reads "One little candle on the cake, One first birthday wish to make!"

The finger paint was baby wash, cornstarch, and food coloring, as I recall. It didn't really work on the tub, though we've not yet tried it on paper. I used baby-food jars to store it and made labels for them, then wrapped them in a cleaned-out cereal bag.
So, it was a bummer that it didn't work out. But I learned a lesson about trying things out first! Thankfully Goose and the birthday boy are both too little to really notice or care. For some frugal ideas that actually work, visit Life As Mom.

And for those of you coming over from Frugal Fridays, please visit my post on keeping toddlers occupied in the car (from last week) and give any suggestions you might have! I've updated the list a bit, though I need to take a few pictures of the things I've finished since then.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Stacking Plastic Storage Containers (Tupperware, etc.)

My kitchen tip for today is how to stack plastic storage containers like Tupperware, Rubbermaid, etc. The natural tendency is to put the smaller containers in the bigger ones. But, if they are the same diameter (size across), they actually stack better if you put the taller containers inside the shorter ones!

I keep these in a drawer, and I can always tell when the toddler has rearranged them or someone else has put them away because the drawer won't close. With these containers, I can then put the stacked smaller ones inside the stacked larger ones, and my drawer will still close.

For more kitchen tips, visit Tammy's Recipes. And for those of you who came over from Tammy's, I'd love it if you'd visit my post on keeping toddlers occupied in the car and give me any ideas you have. I've compiled a lot, but it's going to be a looong trip. Thanks!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Link Roundup - Mosquitoes in the Tent Edition

Poor Goose. We went to a family get-together on Saturday (with swimming!) and then we camped that night. She didn't take a nap in the car on the way there like I hoped - I'd see an enormous yawn, and then a minute later I'd see her stuffed animals flying around. She did reasonably well, though there were a few minor meltdowns. I even gave her some Benadryl to help her sleep that night, but it didn't help much. She threw a significant fit for probably around half an hour before finally giving up the ghost - and I think her papa was asleep before she was, so there wasn't even any sitting around the campfire and hanging out for me!

I figured I'd just as well go to bed too, and that was when I found out we had mosquitoes. The bug repellent was in the car, and I was pretty sure if I went to get it, I'd wake Goose up. When she got up in the morning, she had somewhere around two dozen bites. I think they're bothering her pretty badly - she was up at 5:30 this morning but thankfully went back to sleep after a bit of Tylenol. My mom has used a very, very, very diluted bleach solution on my nieces, and I think I'm going to have to get the "recipe". It burns for a bit but gives them relief for quite a while. She even got bit through her PJs in several spots. Bummer.

No garden update yet, since I have no idea what's going on in my garden. I need to see if there are any tomatoes ready . . . and I need to keep a sharp eye on the green beans because I think once they start, I'll have to pick pretty much every day. (Or I should, anyway.) Let's get down to business, shall we?

The Idea Room has a recipe for making glow in the dark slime.

I really like the 3-D paint stamps over at Mel's Own Place. Easy & cheap - my favorite kind of craft!

Have to admit that I had to watch the video before I really got the concept, but Zakka Life has good, simple directions on how to make yo-yo balloons.

Craftzine has a neat car craft caddy, though it's mostly for knit/crochet. I can see this being easily customized, although I don't think I could narrow down my crafting to just one type. :>)

I'm trying not to make these rice crispie cookies from Amber's Delectable Delights. They look TOO GOOD. I also doubt I'd be able to wait for them too cool before eating as recommended for best flavor. Mmmm.

Another fake sushi recipe - peanut butter and fruit this time, at The Kitchn.

Amy at Finer Things has an interesting recipe for Summer Chili, though I have to admit I'd probably choose Fritos or tortilla chips over chow mein noodles.

Stephmodo has an interesting take on organizing the playroom. I like the concept a lot. We had a designated playroom when I was a kid that was pretty generally a mess, but it was contained. And it was a lot of fun!

All Hands on Deck points out that it's the 41st anniversary of Humanae Vitae (On Human Life), Pope Paul VI's encyclical that reaffirmed the Catholic Church's stance against contraception. (Read the full text of Humanae Vitae here.) It's heavy reading, but it so beautifully explains why God created us male and female. The All Hands on Deck post points out:
However, looking out at the cultural wreckage and family dysfunction of our society, Pope Paul has been proven right in the end. He predicted widespread use of artificial contraception would lead to:
1. "...Increased marital infidelity..."
2. "...General lowering of moral standards.."
3. "...a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and... reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires..."

Can anyone deny that all these predictions have come true? What have been the "fruits" of artificial contraception?

* Half of marriages end in divorce
* almost half of today's babies are born out of wedlock
* 50 million abortions have been procured in the US alone over the last 30 years
* The rampant spread of sexual disease is rampant
* "hooking up" and "friends with benefits" have replaced romance and courtship
* a popular culture rooted in the debasement, objectification, and sexual exploitation of women (have you looked at the magazines in the checkout line lately)?

This cultural wreckage is the real legacy of the widespread use of artificial

Yet, the proponents artificial birth control ridicule abstinence and argue that even more birth control is the solution to all these problems.
(HTML is giving me fits - I tried to use the quote feature on that.)
Yup, that's our society all right. I encourage you to go read the rest of the post here. (With thanks to The Narrow Gate for linking to it first.)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Keeping Toddlers Occupied in the Car

For those of you joining me from Frugal Fridays, we are planning to attend my cousin's wedding in three weeks. It's about a 9.5 hour drive straight through, one way. We have a two-year-old. Yikes.

After doing some searching and thinking, here is what I've come up with so far. I won't be doing everything on the list, and I'm sticking to things that I can put together for cheap and/or free.

Things to Make:
* Color and Shape Cloth Book - You can see all the images here. I made it in a similar fashion to Goose's ABC cloth book, though the pages are cut a bit smaller. To make the pattern for the shapes, I used Microsoft Word and then sized them about the same (I think no bigger than 4x4"). I printed them, cut them out, then used fabric scraps. Like last time, I used Wonder Under to fuse them to the page and sewed around them with a zig-zag stitch. Instead of using fabric for the words, this time I used a fabric pen borrowed from my mother-in-law. Much easier! :>)

* Lacing Cards - I cut some stiff cardboard into shapes and punched holes around the edges. I bought a thick pink shoelace for her to use. She preferred to just play with them - calling the yellow pony-tailed girl "Papa", the green bed "tractor" and the red house "barn". Who am I to correct her?

* Finger Puppets - Ended up not making any. I planned to use some felt and fabric scraps that I have on hand . . . maybe when she gets a bit older.

* Photo Magnets - I printed some photos of family and cats, and used a big pile of freebie refrigerator magnets that I've been collecting forever just in case I had a use for them. And now I do! I used plain old Tacky Glue, and the photos stuck pretty well. I brought a rimmed cookie sheet that I plan to bring for Goose to use as a lap board for this and a number of other activities.

* Magnetic Puzzles - I printed pictures on cardstock (did searches for "coloring pages" on the images I wanted - cow, chicken, cat, pig), colored them in with markers, cut them apart, and attached magnets on the back for use on the cookie sheet.

* Play-Dough - perhaps Cardamom's Pod's recipe - though I wouldn't hand it to Goose to play with in the car. This would have been more of an in-the-hotel sort of thing. Had I done it. :>) Instead, I brought one of Goose's favorite toys from home, her Little People Nativity Set. She LOVES playing with her "baby Jesus toys".

* Geometric Insert Puzzles - I traced 3x3" shapes onto foam sheets, using shapes in Microsoft Word for the patterns. To make it easier for little fingers to grasp, I stitched a bead above the magnet on each piece so Goose can grasp that to pull the piece out. Unfortunately, the adhesive on the magnets didn't stick as well to the foam as the magnent stuck to the cookie sheet, so I glued them on. While she isn't all that exact with colors OR shapes, Goose enjoyed saying "blue, yellow, green" and "circle, triangle, square" as I handed her pieces. And the beads really helped, I thought.

* Sound Bottles - this is a Montessori thing - you paint several bottles so you can't see what's inside, then fill them with things that makes noise, two for each thing (i.e. uncooked rice or beans, etc.). The little one has to match the sounds and pick which ones have the same thing. They can check their work by looking at the bottoms, where you paint colored circles. Then again, this might not be the best thing to do in the car. :>) (Based on two posts at Chasing Cheerios.) I didn't do this. :>)

* Mini Felt Boards - I made one with a number of squares in several different colors, and one that is basically a felt Mr. Potato Head. I did some searching online to get ideas of what to put on the spud, then free-handed eyes, noses, mouths, glasses, ears, and feet. I was going to do arms, but then they just seemed too small to bother. The shape matching idea came from the list of activity bags for preschoolers at The Sunny Patch. I actually ended up not giving her these as I forgot to bring magnets to help hold the heavy background felt to the cookie sheet. We'll play with them at home instead.

* Busy Board - I collected various "fasteners" - large button, buckle, belt, velcro, tie, clip, zipper, etc. I made a pillowcase of sorts for the cookie sheet we took, and she can practice doing and undoing the different things. Inside the zipper is a pocket that held a small cat and dog, which she really enjoyed. Idea is from Teaching Montessori in the Home: Pre-School Years. Actually, I ended up adjusting the "case" since I decided to bring a larger cookie sheet, so I just opened the seam and stitched in a couple extra pieces of fabric along the top . . . then I ended up bringing the small cookie sheet, too, because I wasn't sure if Goose would think the big sheet was too awkward. She was fine with both, of course.

* I-Spy Bottle or Bag (Here is the one mentioned in a recent link roundup, though I saw another post recently about using an empty water bottle.) (Didn't get to this.)

* Magnetic "Paper" Dolls - This is credited to my mother-in-law. She found some fabric with a paper doll print. We cut around the dolls, and fused them to card stock with a metal washer between the fabric and the paper. We then fused the clothes to cardstock and glued magnets on the back. (again, magnet is stronger than adhesive - so we needed glue.) They are VERY CUTE! Goose preferred a magnet on the doll, too, so she didn't have to worry about it sliding. My aunt actually talked some of the fabric off my MIL and made some for her granddaughter, my cousin's little girl. She really enjoyed them, too!

Things to Put Together:
* Sorting Colors and Shapes - inspired by Sarah's Musing's preschool inspiration post. (I guess it WAS inspiring!) Like Sarah, I bought some reusable ice cubes - I think there are four colors and two shapes. I thought we might work on sorting them by color and by shape, but Goose isn't into that yet. Kind of a shift on that idea, though, was a package of brightly colored pom poms in three sizes. Goose enjoyed saying the different colors and "big" or "tiny" as I passed them to her, and she sorted them into a small tackle box, courtesy of her grandpa.

* Stringing Empty Thread Spools - So I'm a big geek about saving random things that you never know you might need. Kind of like Valerie at Frugal Family Fun Blog's invention kit. Anyway, I thought these spools would be easy for Goose to string on a piece of yarn (or shoelace), especially if I added a pipe cleaner "needle" as shown here on Chasing Cheerios. I ended up doubling the shoelace over (with a spool tied in what was the middle that became the end as a stopper) and used scotch tape to tape one end of the shoelace just below the other end, to make the "needle" part a bit longer. Goose LOVED this, and loved wearing it, too! You can see her modeling it as she was talking to my mom while we were waiting for Old Faithful here.

* Sewing - Valerie at Frugal Family Fun Blog posted several months ago about beginning sewing. I have some plastic blunt embroidery needles that I picked up at the thrift store, some embroidery floss, some cross-stitch fabric (very open weave) and a Goose-sized embroidery hoop. However, when I test-drove it, I realized the needle was still too big for it to pass through easily. So, we'll give it a run when I can find a better fabric for it.

* Bubble Wrap & Tin Foil I didn't give Goose the tin foil, but she enjoyed the bubble wrap!

* Crayons & Paper - always a hit, though she tends to request *I* draw things for her (such as our cats, and Papa), so it's not exactly something she does herself. :>)

* Yarn on Sandpaper - idea is from the list of activity bags for preschoolers at The Sunny Patch. Goose liked it pretty much right away!

* Chalk & Black Paper - Not only did I finally find the chalk I knew I had stashed away, I found another box at Goodwill for 50 cents. I also found the black paper I'd bought for cheap at the thrift shop a while back! Goose liked scribbling with it, though one or two colors were messier than the others, so I just wiped her hands with a baby wipe when she was done.

* Pipe Cleaners - can't remember where I saw this, but they can just bend and dink around with them. I'm thinking I'll roll the edges down a bit so they aren't sharp. Didn't use them.

* Open & Close containers - pictured here at Chasing Cheerios. I found a daily pill box and washed it out, a few small plastic containers, and a small wooden container. I didn't give it to her in the car because I knew if she dropped any lids, she'd get mad. She has enjoyed it at home, though.

* Sort In Compartments - pictured here at Chasing Cheerios. (I asked my dad for an old small tackle box. :>)) We mostly did this with the pom poms, except without any method to the sorting. :>)

* Match Color Paint Strips - based on matching colors using clothes pins at Chasing Cheerios. I plan to get paint strips and just use the darkest color on each for now. Though I watched Goose operate a spring clothespin yesterday, she doesn't really have the colors down at all. Didn't do it, but will sometime.

* White board and markers - At the thrift store, I found a small white board that is in a zippered case, there is also a pocket for markers. Like the play-dough, this one will need to be closely supervised. I didn't end up finding markers that were a balance between easy to wash off and shows up on the board. But I'll keep looking.

Things to Buy
* Little Books - I have kept my eyes peeled at the thrift shop and picked up a handful of new-to-us board books, plus ones that I've put away for Goose since books are 1) to be read and 2) to be pulled off the shelves in their entirety. One thing I wish I did was read the new ones to her once or twice so she'd have been familiar with them. Though I know she'd have wanted to read them over and over and over anyway . . .

* Travel Games (though I really didn't find any really for toddlers)

* Small New Toys - don't think I'm going to bother since I have so many other things planned.

* I considered getting Goose a magnifying glass, but decided to wait a while. I can see her accidentally setting fire to something in the backseat . . . (update - found one at the thrift store, but not for the trip. She and Papa can look at bugs or something with it.)

And for when the going gets really rough, I planned to borrow my parents' small TV/VCR, and we could also play DVDs on the laptop. We ended up not taking the TV and never did play anything for her on the laptop. She did quite well with all the other stuff!

Anything to add? Any tips? To make things extra exciting, I was planning to potty training her, until the stomach bug hit. Now she isn't very interested, and we have about three weeks before the trip. It looks like we're going to wait.

And, my 100th post will be coming up in the next couple of weeks. I'm putting together a number of random items to give away and I'd love it if you'd come back and enter - the more, the merrier! It's like a phobia of having a party and no one coming . . . I would be so sad to have a give-away and no one enter it . . . :>)

For more frugal ideas, visit Life as Mom.

7 Quick Takes, Chicken Fried Steak Edition

I made Amy @ Finer Things's chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, and cream gravy for lunch today. I do not fry well, but I think Hubs appreciated the effort. Well, maybe not entirely. An hour and forty-five minutes to prepare, then a solid hour of clean-up. No wonder I don't do this every day, and God bless my grandmothers who did. I'm not gonna lie, there was ice cream involved in getting me through it.

Much of my time this week has been spent putting together activity bags and the like for Goose as we are looking at attending a cousin's wedding that is around 9.5 hours away - and that's just getting there straight through. Head over to my post on occupying toddlers in the car to see what I have planned, and let me know if you have any suggestions!

For anyone who prayed for my special intentions a while back, thank you! One of them came to pass - I went to confession this weekend. I had been trying for a while to get an appointment, but I kept running into brick walls. (Even after leaving my priest a message saying "I'd like an appointment for confession. I can meet you X, Y, and Z times. Please call me back and let me know which of these will work for you.") I am looking forward to going much more regularly now and seeing how God's graces through this sacrament will help me draw closer to Him. I still have a couple of intentions pending, so if you'd send up another quick prayer, I'd appreciate it.

Goose seems to be over her stomach bug and I have to admit, it wasn't nearly as bad as I feared it might be. Sure, I had to clean up plenty of accidents and do plenty of laundry, but once I let go of fear, turned everything over to God and asked for His grace, He gave it to me! Of course, it was up to me to *accept* that grace and *implement* it - and then *be thankful* for it. God is so good. Though now I seem to have a bit of the stomach bug myself, but it's not too bad.

Speaking of letting go of fear, Hubs wants to go camping this weekend. Goose has never been camping, and she's always been a pretty poor sleeper. (Sounds like a combo for some good times, eh?) We have made arrangements to borrow a 2-person tent, which will give us enough room for the pack-and-play and the air mattress. It's going to be interesting . . . and a lot of fun, I think. Once I let go of that fear.

I've been meaning to share this for a while - I get an e-mail each day with a bit of Scripture and a quote from a saint or other holy person. (you can subscribe here) Here is a bit of a paraphrase of what it was a few months ago:

Lead a life worthy of the vocation to which you have been called. (Eph 4:1)
Be humble, be simple, and bring joy to others. St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, 19th century

Pretty simple but strong words as I strive to be the kind of wife and mother that God wants me to be.

Potty training was completely put on hold for Goose's stomach bug. Now she doesn't want much to do with it. Do I push on, knowing we have a BIG car trip coming up in three weeks, or do I wait until we get home? And is there a good way of protecting a car seat cover that is safe?

And, my 100th post will be coming up in the next couple of weeks. I'm putting together a number of random items to give away and I'd love it if you'd come back and enter - the more, the merrier! It's like a phobia of having a party and no one coming . . . I would be so sad to have a give-away and no one enter it . . . :>)

For more quick takes, visit Jen at Conversion Diary.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Amy's Chocolate Pudding Zucchini Muffins

I've been eyeing the recipe Amy posted a while back for chocolate pudding zucchini muffins. As noted, I received a large zucchini this week, and turned it into muffins today.

A couple of quick question, which you veteran zucchini people are going to laugh at, but that's OK: 1) do you peel zucchini before shredding? 2) do you squeeze out the water after shredding? 3) if you use a food processor, what do you do about the end pieces that just won't go through? Today, I peeled, I squeezed, and I minced the leftovers as small as possible and threw them in.

After reading the rave reviews from Amy's house, I decided to do some tweaks from the get-go. I figure if I make them just a bit healthier to begin with, we won't know what we're missing. So here's my version of the recipe:

Lenetta's Tweaks of Amy's
Chocolate Pudding Zucchini Muffins

3 eggs, beaten
1/2 c. cooking oil
1/2 c. applesauce
1 c. sugar (I ran out of white so I used 1/3 c white and 2/3 c brown sugar)
1 package chocolate instant pudding (not sure what the different sizes are - mine was 4 servings)
2 c. grated zucchini
2 tsp. vanilla
3 c. whole wheat flour
1 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon

Beat eggs, oil, sugar, pudding mix, vanilla and zucchini together. Blend dry ingredients and add to zucchini mixture; mix well. Scoop into paper-lined muffin tins. Bake 17-20 minutes at 350°.

I only have two muffin tins so I made 2 dozen muffins. As I put them in the oven, I worried I was going to pull out a running-over-the-sides mess, but they came out fine. I've had one and it's pretty darn good! I'll see what Goose and Hubs say - they have the most say in what recipes get made again around here.

Sunday Garden Update, Week 12

I spent some time yesterday weeding and am feeling a little overwhelmed at the amount of produce that is about to start showing up! To refresh memory, here's what my garden looked like seven short weeks ago:

And here is what it looks like now:
Starting in the front of the picture, my volunteer sunflowers are still going strong - even the one that blew over during a storm. I'm sure glad that I didn't pull it out right away - it's been fun to watch.

The peas were a huge dud. I didn't even bother picking any. Bummer.

My carrots are doing pretty well. I pulled a few more today and put them in grilled potatoes though as I typed this, I remembered that I left them on the grill. For about two and a half hours. You see, Hubs isn't feeling well, but it didn't come on until after I had started cutting up potatoes (using my chop wizard) and thawing hamburger, so I went ahead and cooked it all up. But the potatoes weren't done by the time the hamburgers were done, so I left them out there. Let's just say they're plenty tender!

The tomatoes are frightening me a bit. My plants are ENORMOUS. And there are a whole lot of green tomatoes in there - so many that I'm afraid I'm going to have some rot because I'm not going to be able to *find* them all!

My onions are doing fine, although as I've mentioned before, I need to plant them deeper because they end up growing above ground. That can't be good.

I saw ONE lone green bell pepper, and no jalapenos. I have some blooms, though, so maybe they're just setting on crazy late? Not sure.

The potatoes appear to be doing quite well. As are the volunteer potatoes that are in with the corn. We should have LOTS of them - yum!

My green beans are starting to bend the fences because they're so thick! I really should have thinned them out . . . hindsight, I guess. The good news is we'll have plenty to share.

The Indian corn is looking good, too. I have a bit of volunteer in a few places, though it took a thumping in a recent windstorm. I love to use corn stalks to decorate my porch in the fall and will hopefully be able to use these this year. We didn't plant any Indian corn last year so I didn't get to decorate much. Hubs is a little busy that time of year. :>)

And last but not least at all, the gourds are taking over. It's going to be interesting - Hubs doesn't think I can get them all picked and we'll have tons of volunteer ones until the end of time. I see that as a challenge!

Hope your gardens are all doing well - what have you been eating out of them?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Addendum to Laundry Piles Link Roundup

It never fails - as soon as I get my link roundup done, Tipnut goes and posts their monthly neat-o projects to make. So.

Have to admit I just about died of cuteness over these cupcake purses at Paper and String. Even *I* can handle that zipper!

A nudge to keep practicing my knitting: little knit fish at Instructables.

If we didn't have my old play kitchen, I would be extra-loving this kitchen play mat, especially for the roll-up-and-get-out-of-the-way properties, at Balancing Everything. (There's also a link to a no-sew tablecloth version.)

Not sure why I'm such a sucker for outdoor lighting (since we don't spend a lot of time outdoors in the evening these days) but here is a lighted paper pendant garland at Once Wed.

Along those lines, outdoor flower fairy lights at Notebook: Magazine.

Here are some very cute repurposed tins for storage at Crafting a Green World. I dig the idea for craft bits storage, though I think I'd need more of a designated crafting space (or at least craft storage space!) first.

This doodle purse/satchel has a pocket for the paper as well - very important! (at MaKC Creations)

Link Roundup, Laundry Piles Version

I feel like all I've done for the past several days is change dirty diapers and run loads of laundry. I'm guessing that since I'm using so much ointment on Goose, it's rubbing off in her diaper and making it not absorbent. There have been a few times that I've laid a plastic bag on the changing table and laid a few layers of paper towels over it to catch any overflow. This morning, I was happy when I got up because Goose hadn't fussed during the night (she's gotten sick during the night three nights in a row), but once she did get up, I found out that she had gotten sick anyway and just didn't cry. Poor thing!

Lots o' links this weekend:

I got a huge kick out of this sorter for keeping track of many children's cups, posted by Danielle Bean at Faith and Family Live.

When a mom of many posts something homemade, I pay attention! Case in point, this homemade playdough recipe found at Cardamom.

I've never seen sun jars before but these are really interesting! (at Lifehacker via Tipnut)

Along those lines, here are some very cute hanging jar lanterns at P. Allen Smith.

LOOK HOW CUTE! Make a dress out of a onesie from these instructions at Made. There is a certain onesie from Old Navy that I've kicked myself for not getting - I will be keeping my eye on ebay for one now! (found via Lori at A Frugally Old Fashioned Homemaker.)

Maybe someday I'll have reason to make this patternless maternity skirt. (at Boulevard Designs, found via Michele at Frugal Granola - click through to see how she did it).

These Blueberry sweet rolls at Food Blogga look great!

Who doesn't like ice cream cakes, though funds and nutritional preferences tend to get in the way. Here's a delicious sounding knock-off ice cream cake at Lily of the Valley.

I wonder how these homemade crescent rolls would stand up to all my recipes that call for crescent roll dough? (at My Country Haven)

I have a zucchini in the fridge just waiting to be turned into these chocolate pudding zucchini muffins per Amy at Finer Things.

This apple cider syrup for waffles sounds pretty darned good. (at good Life {eats}) (As soon as I replace my waffle iron, that is.)

Here is a recipe for quinoa with beans and corn at Being Frugal is Fabulous. I really need to fix beans more . . . we all like them, and they're so healthy and cheap.

I'm not sure if it's a good thing or a bad thing that Goose still isn't feeling well, because I SO want to make this upscale mac & cheese with bacon topping RIGHT NOW. Pasta. Cheese. Bacon. Where can you go wrong, except nutritionally? :>)

Here are a couple of spray painting tips from Meredith at Like Merchant Ships.

Love this - scooper ball for those who haven't mastered a ball and glove yet. (at Scribbit)

Tipnut has a guide for freezing vegetables - which I've done a lot of while fearing canning.

More homemade cleaning recipes at Free Money Finance.

Along the lines of cleaning, I have a Swiffer that doesn't see a lot of action, but in my defense we have mostly carpet! Once I run out of solution, though, here are directions on how to refill my Swiffer solution, from Engineer a Debt Free Life.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Messing with Feed Burning

I'm going to be doing a bit of dinking around with my feed burning, so if you get this in your reader but then don't get anything for several days, you might need to re-subscribe in your reader of choice. Feel free to contact me if you have problems . . . I certainly don't want to make anything difficult for any readers! I hope to get set up so people can subscribe via e-mail as well if they would prefer. Thanks for understanding!

About Me

When I meet someone, whether online or in person, I often wonder what their story is. Here's mine. (I'd love to scan and insert a photo from this era but our scanner is broken. Bummer.)

I was born in south-central Nebraska, and my parents, older brother, and I lived on a farm just outside a small town until I was a year old. We then moved to a bigger small town of about 5,000 people in western Nebraska, where I graduated from high school. My parents still live in the same house where I grew up.

During high school, I loved being a big fish in a small pond! I was student manager for volleyball, boys basketball, and boys track, and I played softball. I sang in the choir, participated in drama, and qualified for state speech my senior year. I worked at the local putt-putt hut and baseball concession stands, waited tables, and learned the ins and outs of an office as an administrative assistant.

For college, I chose a small-ish liberal arts school that my brother also attended. It was a much bigger pond, although still pretty small compared to universities, and I struggled a bit. The summer after my junior year, I spent a month studying in Puebla, Mexico. Although my mother had to practically peel a crying me off at the airport (I was SO nervous!), I had a wonderful time, learned a ton, and met some delightful people.

I went on to graduate with a business administration major, a minor in Spanish, and emphasized in management and international business. Although I locked down a job early in my senior year as a manager-in-training for Sam's Club in Omaha, but I didn't really know what I wanted to do with my life.

After completing the three-month or so program, I was able to determine that I did not want to be a manager at a Sam's Club! The regional manager had indicated I would be sent to a location in Iowa that, in terms of sales, was the armpit of the region. It was farther away from my family than I wanted to be, and it just generally didn't feel right. I turned in my resignation.

My manager didn't seem particularly surprised, and he offered me a job as a check-out supervisor. I accepted it, and it actually turned out to be a very fun time! I was overqualified, but that made me really good at my job.

Overall, I learned things that you wouldn't imagine: the quickest way to write out a check as a customer; how lousy it is to have to put the store back together at the end of the day; how to push carts in from the lot (although I never learned how to use the rope and hook to steer them - and did I mention that it rained nearly every day that June?); how easy it is to provide friendly customer service; but how hard it is when customers take their frustrations out on you. During my management training, more than once I locked myself in the staff bathroom and cried until I couldn't catch my breath. Not my finest moments.

(Edit: Here's the fastest way to write a check. Start by filling in the store name (pay to the order of ---- line), date, memo line if you're into that sort of thing, and sign it - while you're waiting in line. You can also do it as the cashier is scanning your items, but it's not a bad thing to watch how the prices ring up. Then, once you have your total, write the numbers in the box as normal and on the line where you write the number out do it like this:
You need not put /100 on the cents, you need not write "dollars", you don't need any other information at all. The first time Hubs saw me write out a check, he said "will the bank cash it like that?" :>) Yes, they will.)

As the summer wore on, I found myself really homesick for anything familiar. I was staying with some wonderful friends of my parents and not only did my mom's friend treat me like her own daughter, she was also a valueable mentor as I jumped into the real world. At work, the personnel area where I spent a lot of time was next to the smoking break room (it was over ten years ago - people were still allowed to smoke back then). One of the custodians enjoyed smoking the same brand of pipe tobacco as my grandfather, and just one sniff as he puffed made me want to jump in the car and go home. It was an awkward, growing sort of time. You'd think I'd have done enough of that in my earlier teenage years, but apparently not enough.

By that fall, I had found another job. But that's another post for another time. :>)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Silhouette Pendants

If you are one of my sisters-in-law with an upcoming birthday, please stop reading now!

Here's what I put together for them! I had intended to make them out of Scrabble tiles as is all the rage these days, but I couldn't find a thrifted game and wasn't about to dig into ours. The idea for this project came from these posts at Chasing Cheerios.

At Hobby Lobby, I found these squares of wood - they are 1.25". I really looked hard for glass tiles but didn't find an affordable option, plus they'd have been smaller. I painted the wood squares black with regular acrylic paint, applying two coats with the appropriate dry time in between. (I also bought my bails at Hobby Lobby.)

To make the silhouette, I took several pictures of Goose from the side. I opened the best picture in Paint (a program that came with my computer) and drew a black line around Goose to outline her. I then went bit by teeny bit and erased everything inside the line plus everything within a box around her head. It was tedious at best! I colored the inside of her silhouette to black and did some touching up. For example, I decided to remove her pig-tail because it just didn't look right. I also smoothed out her hair.

Then I opened a document in Microsoft Word and inserted the picture, and resized it to the dimensions I needed. I copied and pasted so I had two copies, and printed them. It was a bit of a trick to trim them down as cutting straight is NOT my strongest suit but I got it eventually. You'll remember that at this point, the squares are painted black.

I coated the front of the pendant with Mod Podge and stuck the silhouettes on. I then put two more coats over the top of the picture, and let it dry. I put a few coats of spray acrylic sealant stuff on both sides (again mostly sticking to recommended dry times) and then this afternoon, I used super glue to attach the bails. I think technically they are backwards, that they should be attached to the front, but it didn't work that way with what I wanted to do.

Now all I have to do is put them in the mail! (Well, I'll wait for one birthday to get here, first.) I thought they turned out pretty well, and if nothing else, they can use them as a Christmas tree ornament.

For more frugal ideas, visit Life As Mom.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Unsettled Tummy

I'm a firm believer in "blogging without obligation" so I haven't really felt compelled to write anything this week but thought I'd at least mention that.

The upset tummy is Goose's - not mine. I had intended to start potty training Goose but she thwarted me by coming down with the stomach flu. So far it hasn't been terrible, but I've had to switch her to disposable diapers, do some extra laundry, and she's had a number of baths.

Hubs and I are making tentative plans to attend a cousin's wedding in Wyoming in a few weeks, and I am the sort to not do anything without researching and planning the heck out of it (though it all usually goes out the window at some point) so that is giving me something to look forward to. Though it reminds me that we didn't get the DVD player for the car a while back . . .

I'm working on a very cool (at least I think it is!) gift for my sister-in-law's birthday that was last weekend, so I'll be posting about that as soon as it's done and in the mail.

Remember how I mentioned a while back that I am participating in a Bible study? It's on the Holy Spirit - good stuff. This morning, another participant asked if we'd noticed any difference in our lives. I mentioned that lately, I've been feeling like things are going pretty well. I've not won the lottery or anything, but even the little bumps like cleaning the carpet after a sick toddler hasn't been too bad. And I've tried to remember to be thankful for that - God is good all the time! (edit: He's even good at 1 AM, after yet another change of sheets and two diapers and papa's sweatpants. But I might not quite feel the same when the sun comes up!)

Hope everyone else is having a good week!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Chicken Salad in Pita Pockets

Tonight's kitchen experiment was a bit unintended, though it came together well - albeit a bit late. For whatever reason, I decided to marinate and grill two packages of chicken this week, so I had a lot of cooked chicken. A friend of mine makes the most delicious chicken salad, and thinking about it gave me a hankering for it. I've also wanted to try my hand at making pita pockets - and the two certainly go well together! The recipe:

Maxine's Chicken Salad

6-8 cooked and cooled boneless skinless chicken breasts
3 green onions (white and green parts)
3 stalks celery (use the ends too)

In food processor, chop chicken, remove, and then chop onion & celery together. Add to the chicken. Add Miracle Whip until desired consistency. Add salt, pepper, cayenne pepper ( want just enough so that you get barely a taste after a bite of salad!) and basil to taste.

May add red grapes and/or chopped nuts if desired. Or, for a change, serve with chopped tomatoes & bacon on top.

Maxine notes that you really do want to chop the chicken and celery separately - or else you end up with green chicken! I don't keep Miracle Whip on hand, so I used mayo and added a bit of sugar and vinegar.

Unfortunately I didn't plan ahead well enough, and Hubs had to head out to mow hay before I finished the pita pockets. Too bad, because they're pretty good! I used a recipe from Tammy's Recipes. There is a whole wheat version as well, but I figured I'd better start easy. My biggest problems were that I can't roll out in a circle, and keeping Goose from doing too much damage as she was standing on the chair, "helping" me. If I'd have given it just a bit more thought, I could have used extra cooling racks to bake more than two at a time and spent just a bit less time in front of a very hot oven.

I think I'll make these again, though I'd double the recipe (now that I'm more or less comfortable with it) and put the extras in the freezer. To keep me humble, I tried giving Goose a bite and all she got was chicken salad, which she'd have spit out if she knew how. Must be a texture thing? Who knows.

We hit a used book sale this morning in one of the nearby "cities" (they're really just pretty big towns) and came out with a lot of books for just under $25. When I went to organize them, I was pleased to discover that I remembered correctly - I had volume one of a set of children's books and found volumes two through five. In fact, it made me wonder if I ought not try to talk Hubs into going back tomorrow to see if I can complete any of my other sets! Something tells me he won't go for it, and rightly so, I suppose . . .

Hope everyone is having a great weekend!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Weekly Link Roundup, Stuffed Head Version

It has now been eight days since I've nursed Goose. The engorgement hasn't been too bad (she was down to once a day) but I'll admit I'm not quite ready. A number of things indicate that it's time, though, so we're foraging ahead into this growing-up business. She hasn't really directly asked for milk, but she was somewhat upset that I moved the glider out of her room. We now snuggle in her reading nook to read books before nap and bedtime.

Of course, cutting out all those antibodies meant that she came home from my parents' with a bit of a cold. It doesn't seem to bother her too much, though I'd love to sit and cuddle and nurse when she gets cranky. She thoughtfully passed it along to me, and I feel awful! Here's hoping it passes quickly.

Fun things I found this week:

Deserving a catagory all its own, Chocolate on My Cranium has a fun post on making a summer activities calendar for boredom busting. There is also a tutorial for sewing the calendar and there are also instructions for making a similar paper calendar. If you need any ideas for activities, check out 50 summer crafts for kids at The Long Thread.

I love brownies and I don't love hot kitchens. These brownie waffles at Cook with Sara make me want to run out and replace my waffle iron RIGHT NOW. (There was an incident. No details are available.)

I am so very awkward with knitting needles that finger knitting might be just the thing for me. (Craftzine)

I'm sorry to admit that I'm one of those who never knows what to say when someone has experienced the loss of a family member, from miscarriage all the way through a loved one who lived a full life. Being far away geographically makes it worse. Extraordinary Moms Network outlines what to put in a comfort box that gives ideas for you to personalize it to the one in need.

I mention Chasing Cheerios a lot, and not too long ago, the author was giving serious thought to shutting it down. You can read about her pictures being posted on another website here, and she recently linked to this site that explains how to disable the right click feature to make it just a bit harder for your photos to be stolen.

Goose isn't quite there yet, but I love the look of these rag letters once she gets there. And that gives me time to get them made! (Happy Together)

This outdoor candle chandlier is lovely and looks reasonably easy, too. I'm filing this away for when Hubs builds me a gazebo (likely during our golden years :>)). (Sunset)

Craft Nectar came up with a word game for kindergartners with a pdf instruction file.

Happy surfing, everybody!

My Take on Ribbon Dancing

Inspired by Valerie at Frugal Family Fun Blog and her simple post on ribbon dancing, I remembered something similar from my childhood, likely happening during the Olympics. (Look! Here's a page from Wikipedia on rhythmic gymnastics with a ribbon!) What I remember is a black plastic stick with long, probably multicolored mylar ribbon attached somehow. We'd take them outside in the sun and dance around.

Wanting to create the same fun for my nieces on the cheap, here's what I did:
Purchased two wooden spoons at the thrift shop, ten cents each. I took sandpaper and sanded them to get off any cooked-in yuck, then had Hubs drill two holes in each one. I also sanded the edges of the holes to smooth them out.

I looked all over for mylar ribbon with no luck. The local party planning store had pink mylar sheets, though, so I cut one inch strips off of them and taped them together. Gauge the age and ability of the child to the length - I think younger ones would get frustrated if it was too long. I also bought some mylar curling-type ribbon that is gold on one side and silver on the other, and cut one piece to the same length as the taped-together ribbon.

I threaded the ribbons through the holes and centered them so there was about equal amounts on either side and tied a couple of knots to hold it.

I'm sorry I don't have any shots of me testing them out, or my nieces with them - but I assure you, they are fun!

For more frugal ideas, visit Life as Mom.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Using Freezer Paper

Previous posts have noted that I like to brown, divide, and freeze hamburger, make ahead casseroles, make and freeze sloppy joes, freeze chicken in marinade, freeze raw chicken breasts, and now I'll show you how I wrap big hunks of raw meat for longer-term storage.

Many frugal minds agree that you can help your grocery bill by watching for things your family enjoys (and you use a lot of) to go on sale, then stock up as space and usage allows. I like to use my crock pot, and I've discovered that Goose loves to eat shredded pork, which was on sale last week. I bought several packages, and also some freezer paper and tape.

To prepare the pork roasts, I cut off as much fat as I can without wasting too much meat. (It isn't exactly wasted at our house - it goes to the barn cats!) North Dakota State University has a link which shows how to wrap meat for freezing. (Doncha know there, eh? Angela and Annemarie are probably the only people that will get that . . . ) I prefer the butcher wrap, myself. I then labeled with the type of meat, date frozen, and weight, and put four of them in the freezer. The fifth one went in the crockpot for tomorrow's lunch.

The original recipe comes from A Year of Crockpotting. My tweaks are as follows:

Crockpot Pork Sandwiches

3-4 pound pork roast (bone-in is fine)
1 tablespoon garlic powder
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon sage
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 cup spicy brown mustard
3 tablespoons honey
1 cup beer

Place meat in crock, sprinkle spices and brown sugar over it. Add Worcestershire, mustard, and honey, pour in beer. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours (Steph did 12 hours overnight and it was a bit overdone but plenty edible). Serve over rice or pasta, or as we do, as sandwiches.

Since I'm cooking it overnight, I'll shred it in the morning, and refrigerate the drippings/juice so the fat can come to the top and harden, then I'll skim that off and return the meat to the juice.

For more kitchen tips, visit Tammy's Recipes.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Long Overdue Garden Update, Week 10, Humbled Version

Today I received an e-mail with the stats from my blog, something I get weekly. I am *thisclose* to 3,000 visits and have surpassed 5,000 page views. And that isn't counting at least a few of you who subscribe, and my mom who gets updates via e-mail. :>) I think this is post number 81, and while I only have eight or so in my drafts, I have probably at least a dozen for which I have taken pictures, I just need to write the post out. Thank you everyone for joining me on this crazy ride! Yes, I think I will need to have a giveaway soon. I've hesitated in doing another one because, along the lines of having a party and no one showing up, I'd hate to have a giveaway and have no one enter! But, looking at the numbers, that may not be a problem. For those of you more experienced in these matters, do you know of a place to publicize giveaways other than Money Saving Mom's weekly roundup and the once-in-a-while Bloggy giveaway that Laura @ Heavenly Homemakers took over a few months ago?

Anyway. This afternoon, I had the opportunity to finally use a gift card for a massage that I've had for nearly two years. I also got some tips to hopefully help me keep better physical balance (not *literal* balance, though) and perhaps help resolve my insomnia and some of the other issues I've had since Goose was born. I'm already plotting when I can see her again - I have one more gift card to use!

And now, the garden. It's doing quite well, my friends! I decided to do individual pictures, not that you can see much better in them, though you can click to enlarge.

Sunflowers. The one to the back of the picture (in the shade) got snapped in a thunderstorm at least three weeks ago. I thought it would just die but it is proving me wrong! Considering they're volunteer to begin with, perhaps they're extra hardy.

(There is no picture of the peas, because they're doing nothing. I can get them on sale for 88 cents a pound frozen, so it looks like that's what we'll do.)

Carrots. Except for the random completely bare spots in the rows, they're doing well. They probably should have been thinned, but I didn't have the heart to do it. (I know - they're vegetables, not kittens!) I pulled a few tiny ones and put them in some grilled potatoes the other day, just for fun.

Tomatoes. I haven't gotten in there (it's a jungle, as you can see!) but I did notice some green ones earlier this week. I'm hoping they won't be the proverbial "all hat and no cowboy", though - or all plant and no fruit! One of my sweet cousins picked a ripe tomato yesterday - lucky her!

Onions. I really need to plant these more deeply next year. I have followed the directions two years in a row, and half the onion ends up above the soil. I think, for that reason, they likely won't get terribly big.

Peppers - hot and sweet. Not doing great, but I still have hope.

Potatoes. They look good from up here! I've not counted to see how many of the ones I planted actually came up.

Indian corn. Taller than I am and starting to tassel! I'm thinking of trying to sell some on eBay this year, or some such thing. I have a lot from previous years, too. I love the stuff! Also pictured, volunteer potatoes. Lots of them!

Green beans. I told a cousin today to please come over and pick to her heart's content once they're ready! I should have thinned them, too . . . Last year, I vacuum-sealed and froze them. One of my favorite ways to prepare them is to heat them with a bit of water (microwave or stove) and add a packet of Italian dressing mix - just the seasoning. Though as I type this, I'm betting they would be good with a squirt of Italian dressing, too! (See Laura's recipe for a homemade dressing mix. I've had luck just throwing together seasonings that are listed in the ingredients - the stuff I recognize, that is - but don't have a specific recipe myself.)

Last but not least, my gourds. I had a fair number of blossoms, so I'm hopeful for them, too.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Link Roundup, Biting Flies Version

Today has been a pseudo-productive day . . . Mass this morning, bacon and eggs for brunch, squabble with Hubs, mowed the lawn, worked on draining and cleaning the wading pool, and tried to weed the garden but the flies drove me out. Ouch!

So I don't think I've been all that efficient without Goose here. For one, I miss her like crazy For two, my brain seems to have rewired and I'm not particularly capable of staying on a single task for too long. Poor attention span? I don't know. It hasn't been a complete waste of time, but I had hoped to do more.

Anyway, I know you're all anxious to see what I found this week, so here we go!

Very cute flower headbands at Homemade by Jill.

Remember the punched tin butterflies? I knew that method would transfer well - here are some cute garden lanterns from tin cans at Fine Gardening.

Martha Stewart has some adorable sewing kit jars that I see more as a bit decorative, i.e. my MIL's quilt shop.

I like the idea of this homemade I Spy bag at Peculiar Momma. I especially love the way you find random things around the house to use!

Lori at Frugally Old Fashioned Homemaker made liquid hand soap! I tend to just buy in bulk, but I like the idea a lot!

It wouldn't be a link roundup without highlighting Valerie at Frugal Family Fun Blog - this week, it's a waterproof homemade windsock. I'd be tempted to use a lighter to melt the cut edges of the plastic myself, but if it turned in, it might affect the asthetics (and it might cut the plastic more easily). If it does, though, it's not like you're out a whole lot - just make another one! :>)

Here's a tutorial on how to embroider chain stitch at Coats Crafts from across the pond, and I'm betting that some clicking around would yield more stitchery how-tos.

While I've hardly ever met a truly bad cookie, Baking 911 has some cookie troubleshooting tips if you want to make a good thing better.

For older kiddos, The Idea Room has this boredom buster jar with chores that need done as well as a few fun things thrown in for good measure.

Who wouldn't love to get this pouch full of candy in the mail?? Like usual, I'm thinking Neighbor Jane Payne's idea would translate well to other flat and reasonably durable applications.

I'm thinking older kids and thrifted tools, but this ice archeology at Scribbit looks like fun!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Organizing Ribbon Scraps

A while back, I came across a photo tour of a very lovely craft studio. Instead of getting the "I wants" and "gimmies" and getting envious of such a crafting room, I just tried to take away the pieces that I could use in my home. My favorite one is using clothespegs to organize ribbon scraps.

The full tutorial of the hows and whys are at the above link (and, if you can keep your envy in check, click on the first link above to the tour of her craft studio) but it's pretty basic to figure out.

I don't have so many ribbon scraps that I need big jars to store mine in, rather I use plastic zip top bags, including the small ones that I bought the ribbon scraps in from Wal-Mart or Hobby Lobby. The original poster notes that she can get about five yards of ribbon on a peg and in my experience that makes a pretty fat peg, but it will work. Just take care not to drop the pet as you're winding! (Don't ask how I know, just hang on tight. Especially if the cats are lurking nearby just waiting to get their paws on what you're doing.)

So far, I have found a bag of clothes pegs at a rummage sale, and another one at the little local thrift store. I also have been asking around for them, and I will be following up on one more lead today. Neither our dollar store or the local Wal-Marts that I've checked have them, but the point is that you never know where they'll turn up. Hope this helps someone else stay organized!

For more frugal ideas, visit Life As Mom.

7 Quick Takes, No Goose Version

I'm experiencing a different kind of freedom, and I'm not sure I like it. I'm all about "God Bless America" and very thankful for the blessings that come from living where we do. The freedom I'm talking about is not having a toddler around! Goose is visiting my parents while my brother's family is there, and I miss her so much already. As I was finishing up my grocery shopping yesterday, I kept feeling like I was missing something - it was not having a diaper bag slipping off my shoulder as I kept an eye on a darting two-year-old. I'm a bit worried that once I get her back, I'll do something like leave her in the car because I'll be out of practice! Good thing she's too vocal to let that happen.

Anybody notice I *really* forgot to do a garden update this week? (Eek, I've missed TWO weeks!) I thought about getting a pic on both Sunday and Monday, but didn't get it done while it was still light out, then I did a lot of running around to get Goose ready to go. I'm thinking for next week, I'll do more of a row-by-row update - some stuff is getting pretty tall!

We are hoping to catch a couple of baseball games this weekend, one minor league game and one . . . even more minor than that, but still professional ball. :>) Ever since my big brother took the field, I've loved the game. Hubs and I have joked that if we ever have a son, we'll nickname him "Javy" - which is short for Javier and sounds like a good baseball player's name (i.e. Javy Lopez who used to play for the Braves).

I have given up cold cereal for breakfast. Whoo! Now I just need to start planning so I can do better than just oatmeal every day. And I need to start getting up earlier to ride my bike before Goose gets up. We've been doing some walking over to the farm (per my mid-year resolutions but have found that the farm dog follows us home. I've been able to get her in the garage each time, but it is a hassle and if she gets over to the highway and gets hit, I'll feel terrible.

One of my cousins is getting married this summer, and we won't be able to attend her wedding shower. A while back, I read a post on Like Merchant Ships about mailing a prettily wrapped package. So, I wrapped the gift in white paper, tied on a wedding-y ribbon bow, and wrapped the whole thing in cellophane. I'd show you a pic but Blogger is *not cooperating*. I made sure to leave a spot not fully taped so she could get a finger in there to start unwrapping and I noted "OPEN HERE" with a sharpie. Hopefully she got a kick out of it!

For those of you still reading :>) could you please say a quick prayer for a few special intentions I have right now? One is something that I need to do - that I know God wants me to do - but the doors aren't readily opening for me to do it. I know that if I persevere, God's grace will be extremely abundant, but in my human-ness, it's so much easier to just sit back and wait.

I'm stuck on six things, so for my 7th, I'd love to share with you a few things I've blogged about this week. One is Prayerful Beads, where I purchased some beautiful rosaries for a very good price, another is how I successfully cooked a frozen casserole on the grill, and finally, how I organized my ribbon scraps for my little craft projects, especially taggie blankets and burp cloths.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary.