Sunday, February 28, 2010

40 Bags Update: Bags 9-14

More bags! I'd like to think my house is breathing a sigh of relief as I'm getting rid of this stuff, but unfortunately I think it's just scratching the surface. Nevertheless, something is better than nothing!

Bags 9 and 10 - I put a bag of frames (there was actually a large collage-style frame and a big 10x13 frame that went, too!) and a bag of candles on Freecycle. (Click that link to see if there is one near you. I kind of tag along with the one for the nearby "city" and have had pretty good luck with it.) Some of the candles were already burned, even mostly burned. Freecycle is set up that the giver posts the item(s) they have to give away, and the person taking them is supposed to pick them up. Since I don't actually live in the town where the group is set up, I try to be flexible. I will drop things off when I am in the big town shopping, or make arrangements to drop things off in the town where I work, things like that.

Bags 11 and 12 - Getting rid of these bags was super easy. What's in them? Plastic to be recycled. Simple as that. I was saving stuff for an invention kit for Goose, but we weren't using that stuff very quickly. I read in one of the Tightwad Gazette books that you should only save as much of that sort of thing as you think you might use. After all, I've only pulled one Parmesan cheese shaker out that I use to store baking soda for cleaning, so why did I have 20 more shakers?!? And, since Goose and I both love cheese on our popcorn and spaghetti (and many other things) there will be many more shakers. No worries.

Bags 13 & 14 - While recycling the plastic was easy, these two bags hurt to post. I cleaned out my pantry and this is the amount of food that has been in there for far too long. I am great at fooling myself into thinking we don't waste that much food. But when I combine the amount of leftovers that don't get eaten, unrecognizable stuff in the freezer that gets chucked, and stuff like this that gets lost in the pantry, I realize I don't do a very good job at all. Meal planning would help, I think, as would just being aware of what's in there and making an attempt to use the stuff I have.

I posted a number of things as a note on Facebook and was able to distribute several to friends and family. I'm excited to be giving cushion to my cousin, who I plan to see this weekend at the baby shower for another cousin. (I'm still tickled at how the gift turned out - and even more tickled that I have a large bag of "stuff" to give after shopping in Goose's closet! - see link to the closet shopping at the baby shower post).

Have you been decluttering? Leave a comment and let me know how you're doing! Even ONE bag is progress!! You can also see how others are doing over at Finer Things.

Daybook for Feb 28, 2010

I've been admiring other bloggers' Daybook posts, and have wanted to write my own for a while. I think there's no time like the present! So, without further ado...

Outside my window... The sun is shining. MELT, MELT, MELT! We don't have as much snow as our neighbors up north, but there's still plenty around. And this is the first year that the reality of MUD season on the farm is starting to sink in. Yikes. [edit: by the time I finished this post, the sun was gone. Sigh.]

I am thinking... That I really need to step up my housekeeping, and I'm struggling to find a balance between finding a routine and being flexible enough to do the things I need to do.

I am thankful for... A little one that loves going to church. She could make Sunday mornings pretty miserable, but as it is, they are a joy. I owe a lot of it to "church shoes" (not to mention God's grace) and that's a post I'd like to get written one of these days.

From the learning rooms... More thinking, not enough doing. I need to start pulling together the things I want to do and DO THEM (referencing my resolutions to DO IT, though I think it may interfere with my resolution to go to bed on time. Must! plan! time! better!)

From the kitchen... We had eggs for brunch today, I need to introduce you to our chickens sometime! Perhaps once the snow melts and the mud dries up. I have fallen out of the habit of at least planning a handful of upcoming meals, and it's starting to pinch me! Regular meal planning hasn't worked very smoothly for me, because I never know just how long the leftovers will last, and I usually estimate on the side of having too much food. Which leads to waste, which frustrates me, and then I respond by not planning meals for a while. Vicious cycle. I have at least been meaning to soak beans and make a big batch in the crockpot - I use the method from A Year of Slow Cooking.

I am wearing... Stretchy pants, unfortunately. I need to do a lot of work in this area. I'm also sporting the shortest haircut I've had in 20 years! My mom cuts my hair, and last weekend, she lopped off enough that it's just below shoulder length right now. I like it pretty well, most of the time. I haven't tried to put it in a bun yet, but I haven't really needed to since a pony tail keeps it pretty well out of the way.

I am creating... Baby gifts for a cousin's shower next weekend. I'll try to put together a post of them later - I am so pleased with how the crinkly taggie toy turned out. I also made a little something for our nephew's upcoming first birthday and need to get it in the mail since it has a long journey. I may need to wait to post a pic because his mama reads this, and I want her to be surprised... enough that I didn't even request measurements, so I hope it fits!

I am pondering... The St. Ephrem prayer Elizabeth Foss posted on her daybook. This is one to tape to the mirror...
O Lord and Master of my life! Take from me the spirit of sloth, faint-heartedness, lust of power, and idle talk. But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love to Thy servant. Yea, O Lord and King! Grant me to see my own errors and not to judge my brother; For Thou art blessed unto ages of ages. Amen.

I am reading... Too many things to pay enough attention to any one of them. The pile includes Guiding Your Catholic Preschooler by Kathy Pierce and Rediscovering Catholicism: Journeying Toward Our Spiritual North Star by Matthew Kelly. Waiting in the wings are Bless Me, Father, For I Have Kids and Please Don't Drink the Holy Water!, both by Susie Lloyd. (Why yes, I did get a pile of books off eBay just for Lent!) (And those are affiliate links, but I don't really expect anybody to buy them. I keep a wish list on Amazon mostly to remind me of what I want to read someday.)

I am hoping... To see more glimpses of spring soon. We had a very foggy winter which folklore says is a predecessor to a wet spring. I just need some sunshine!

I am thankful for... A surprise of two small books for Goose in the books I got off eBay. They didn't cost the sender much *at all* (they're only 15 cents or so each) but they meant a LOT to us.

I am hearing... Hubs watching a movie, Goose chattering instead of taking a nap.

Around the house... Decluttering! I have plenty more to clean out, though.

One of my favorite things... Goose and her papa. Hubs has been working long days building an airplane at a shop that is over an hour from here, and he even stayed overnight for a few days' stretch. Even when he comes home at night, Goose still wants to "go see-see him" - she's daddy's girl for sure.

A few plans for the rest of the week... proofreading tomorrow at the newspaper, Bible study tomorrow night, and whether or not I go to our Village board meeting is directly related to whether or not Goose takes a nap tomorrow. Stations of the Cross on Thursday.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing... It's stuff like this that gets me through the day. It's a stuffed grey kitty, that herself is stuffed on the back of Goose's bike. Also along for the ride is a small crucifix we got as a freebie in the mail, and a keychain of Snoopy flying a plane. (Just like Papa, according to Goose.) You can't see in the pic, but there are more things stuffed into the basket on her handlebars. She was busy!

You can read LOTS more Daybook posts here.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Link Roundup - No Nap XIX Edition

Yet another day, yet another missed nap. Yet another super early bedtime. She'll be three soon. Going on sixteen, I think.

So, I'll go to my happy place, where there are pretty things to make, yummy things to eat, and fun things to do.

Along the lines of the ABC Book I made for Goose, here's a soft baby book as part of Celebrating the BOY, at Thimbly Things.

I need to make one of these quick kids art smocks for Goose ... so I can get over being freaked out by messy toddler craft projects. (@ forty-two roads)

So THIS is what I can do with these scraps - sweetheart pin cushions from Happy Together. (Plus I could use a cute pincushion!)

Dana at MADE shows us how to make a boy's sweater vest from a man's sweater. How cute is that?!?

On my "someday" list is a portable DVD player for long car trips, and if we get one, I'll be all over this portable DVD player tote at Make It And Love It. Good stuff!

How fun are these sweater mittens at Five Green Acres?!?

Really adorable!! I love this rose petal tutu from Candace Creations. I love knock off stuff like this!

At Tipnut this week - fruit dip recipes, cooking with apples, how to melt chocolate, tender ways with less-tender cuts of meat, and 50 household uses for baking soda (OK, so that falls under "DO" but I guess it is my roundup.)

There are at least a few taffy recipes in my enormous pile, and it's post like this homemade taffy at Skip To My Lou that makes me think I could do it!

Katie at Kitchen Stewardship has a great how to soak flour in whole grain recipes article at Way to go, Katie!

Just in time for St. Patrick's Day, Kells Guinness Meatballs, at Michelle's Junk Drawer.

Mmm! Thick, chewy granola bars at Smitten Kitchen.

This must mean that spring isn't too far away - tips on starting seeds at Fine Gardening.

Since I'm still suffering from insomnia, I was very interested to read these Health Sleep Habit Tips, a guest post by Catherine at Shoe Box Daily, over at Amy's Finer Things.

This DIY geoboard at Feels Like Home is awesome!

No Time for Flashcards put together a great supply list for crafting with little people.

Looking at my 2010 Mid-Year Resolutions, I need to pay close attention to these Seven Habits of Highly Successful Homemakers at I'm an Organizing Junkie, a guest post by Cheryl at Moms in Need of Mercy.

Bethany at The Apple Cider Mill wrote a great post on Going It Alone, a post for wives considering the Catholic faith when their husband is not Catholic.

Stacey has a thought-provoking post on When We Die at Almost There.

A testimony to large families! God Said Multiply, and Did She Ever at the New York Times, about Yitta Schwartz, who died with possibly 2,000 descendants. Wow!

I know it's not at all the right time of year, but I found some cute Christmas stuff! And actually, these super cute pea pod ornaments at Betz White would be fun anytime of the year.

These guys know their stuff - building a gingerbread house by King Arthur Flour.

I'm trying to figure out a Nativity based Advent calendar for Goose for next Christmas since she loves baby Jesus so much, but this Christmas tree Advent calendar is amazing. (@ Inchmark)

These yarn Christmas trees are SO CUTE and, according to the post at Pretty Ditty, fast to make. (One of my favorite things in a craft. :>))

Happy clicking!

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Way of the Cross

One of the things I love about Lent is attending Stations of the Cross. Don't get me wrong - walking the path toward Jesus' death with Him is excruciating. And yet I look forward to it every week. I usually cry, and I've finally gotten to the point where I don't get too embarassed about it. I'm blessed that Goose LOVES anything to do with church and Jesus, though admittedly she wasn't quite sure what was going on at first since it's different from Mass. I'm also blessed that it is available just down the street from me - there were only six of us in attendance this week, but it was as powerful as if there had been a packed house.

If you'd like to learn more about Stations, here are a few links from Creighton University in Omaha. They explain why do the Stations, how to do the Stations, and provide online Stations that one can click through.

Stations of the Cross are an excellent way to help keep focus on Jesus as we prepare to celebrate His resurrection. Even if you are not Catholic, I highly encourage you to check them out, and join Him on his journey toward your salvation - and mine.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

40 Bags Update, Bags 2-8

Since I'm plenty ahead on my decluttering challenge, I've been kind of sitting on my laurels, and that just won't do! I need to find my groove again and get rid of some stuff... But in the meanwhile, let me tell you about some things that are either gone, or in the process of finding their way to a new home.

You may remember that bag #1 is some scraps left over from making baby leg warmers. I will be featuring a link in this week's roundup for a pin cushion that can be stuffed with many things including "t-shirt scraps" so I'm thinking I might save a few and try that - especially since I have needed a cute pincushion for a while. So maybe I won't toss them just yet.

Bag 2 - a paper grocery sack of movies and some DVDs. Most of these went via Freecycle. I created an account on Swap A DVD and listed some DVDs that I thought might be of interest to someone but I haven't gotten any requests for them. I'm thinking I'll pull them and perhaps list them on eBay, and if that doesn't work, they'll get Freecycled.

Hubs and I both went through our collection and I'd say we're getting rid of around half of what we had. The funny thing is, we did that so we could get rid of our old entertainment center (a "bag" coming up) and our old TV (another "bag" coming up), as we got a new TV handed down from my parents that is too big for much of anything except a table.

Bags 3 & 4 - The movies we opted to keep were moved to a dresser in the spare bedroom. From that dresser, I cleaned out two garbage sacks full of towels, bath sheets, hand towels, and wash cloths. (What's a bath sheet, you may ask? It's an enormous towel. I kept two, as I used them while I was pregnant and couldn't get a regular towel wrapped around my belly. Hope springs eternal that I'll need them again.)

I actually haven't gotten rid of these bags yet. The Altar Society at my parish is collecting towels and wash cloths for "hygiene kits" at our next meeting, so I'm thinking I'll give them away there, and any left overs will be donated elsewhere. I think I mentioned before that I'd like to give them to the local humane society in honor of my sweet calico, Camilla, who was adopted from the society in Colorado Springs.

"Bag" 5 - This is a small "bag" but it's meaningful! I took the Christmas cards we received a few years ago and cut out the pictures to make gift tags. I didn't do this with this year's cards, since I lost my Christmas card address list, I had to use last year's to recreate it. So, I'll hang onto this year's cards until next year and THEN I'll do the same thing.

I'm actually kind of hoping to reuse some of them (we give gifts to the same people pretty much every year) so I reinforced the holes with those stick-on . . . reinforcer thingies. (hey, it's getting late.) This was actually a pretty fun project.

Bag 6 - Hubs bought me a porch swing for my birthday a few years ago, which I LOVE. One of the many things I love about it is the way Hubs would take a tiny cranky, crying Goose out there and swing until they were both calm - and giggling. When we got it, I was convinced that I needed a cushion for it so I could spend a couple of lazy hours at a time out there, swinging and reading and relaxing.


That hasn't happened, and the short time we do spend out there doesn't require any padding. So, this is going to my sweet cousin.

Bags 7 & 8 - I love shoping our local semi-annual kids' consignment sale for Goose's clothes, but since just about everything MUST be on a hanger, I have ended up with lots of hangers. I'm not ready to sell anything back yet so I don't need them, but I sure am tired of storing them. So I e-mailed the lady that runs the sale and asked her if she knew of anyone in my area that needed hangers. Within 24 hours, I'd made arrangements for someone to pick them up. It helped her, it helped me - that's what I'm really trying to do here!

If you're decluttering for Lent, how's it going? You can see the rest of my Lenten resolutions here, and for more frugal ideas, visit Life as Mom.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Mid Year Resolutions, 2010

Resolve. What a word... Yeah, I guess I'm not one for jumping on trendy bandwagons and doing things like making resolutions at the end of the year to work on in the new year. Heck, I was too busy crafting up a storm for my Handmade Christmas. But I think as we move through Lent, it's a good time to look at getting into better habits for the sake of my family. I actually wrote this before Lent started, so it's about time I get moving on it...

I was really inspired by the three-branched approach to Lent of Fasting, Prayer, and Almsgiving. I've done a lot of fasting Lents, giving up chocolate, pop, even my beloved Parmesan cheese (I eat the heck out of it on popcorn.) This year, I wanted to incorporate a bit of all three. For the fasting part, I am giving up microwave popcorn. I'd all but quit eating it several months ago, then I got sucked back in. I am about to start research for a post on food additives, and heaven knows there's a lot of "stuff" added to microwave popcorn. Popcorn is actually a pretty healthy snack that I really love, and I need to learn how to enjoy it without all the junk again.

My method of almsgiving this year is the 40 Bags in 40 Days decluttering challenge. I've already Freecycled some stuff, and given a number of things away. Lots more to come!

The prayer part is a bit more sticky. My theory is that I need to do a LOT of work to overcome the sin of sloth and focus on caring for my home and family, which I am blessed to have as my primary job. I'd also like to tie in the way my own body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, and I need to care for it as such.

Last year, I got inspired, and wrote some Mid-Year Resolutions. They didn't work out so well, to be honest. To refresh my memory, they were:

1) Eat a good breakfast every day.
2) Cut down on eating between meals by eating *healthier* meals. Make healthier snacks when we need them.
3) Plan out a menu and shop for groceries less frequently.
4) Walk over to the farm (Goose in a borrowed jogging stroller thanks to Hubs's sweet cousin - our farm is about a mile from our house) to feed the kitties at least 4 times a week.
5) Go to bed earlier and get up earlier.
6) Lose about 25-30 pounds. I added this as an afterthought - I was hoping that if I was successful with the above, this would have fallen into place on its own.

I succeeded in the following:
1) Gave up cereal for breakfast and ate oatmeal most days.

Don't get too excited, it was instant. Ouch.

Hubs gave me a nice nudge toward healthier eating with a Christmas gift of a Nutrimill. I was pretty surprised (thank you, dear!) and was really expecting a dehydrator, so it was a double surprise. [Much thanks is due to Laura at Heavenly Homemakers for her posts on Should You Buy a Grain Mill? (and the money saving aspects of it) as well as part two, Which One Is Best and Where to Buy a Mill.]

The bummer thing is that I can't bring myself to pay money for wheat that is the same thing as what we have sitting in the bins, and we've not yet figured out a good way to clean it, so I haven't used it yet. That's OK. I've been busy working on my other Lenten resolution, a decluttering challenge to get rid of 40 Bags in 40 Days.

So while all the above resolutions still apply (except for walking to the farm, I'll be giving up custody of the jogging stroller to another of Hubs's cousins), here's what I've been thinking about lately.

1) Stop making excuses. When I read about someone who has a clean house, who works hard at exercising, who does better at making food from scratch, who does (insert X here) better than I do, I tend to think that their house is easier to keep than mine. That her back doesn't hurt like mine (or her neck doesn't crunch like mine). That she lives closer to better grocery stores. And the excuses go on and on. The truth is, we all have our crosses to bear, and mine is a lot lighter than that of many others.

2) Quit reading about "it" and do it! "It" is a lot of things. Improving my prayer life, improving my housekeeping schedule, exercise routines, organizing recipes. Along those lines, I'm due for another weeding out session in my Google Reader. I read a lot of blogs that I love, but I need to live my life, not yours! The way I add to my reader is by visiting a blog a few times (to the point that it's a bit familiar, I know I've been there before) and if I've really enjoyed the posts - or if I've linked to several of them in my Reading The Whole Internet posts - it goes in the reader.

But periodically, I try to evaluate the blogs I'm reading. I ask myself "does this bless me? How?" I'm thinking for Lent, I need to narrow down to the ones that truly, truly help me in these resolutions and not just provide enjoyment. (I'll admit, I'll keep a blog or two like Stuff On My Cat that don't take much time to read and REALLY make me happy. And they make Goose happy, too...)

3) Make better use of my Home Management Binder. About two years ago, I was inspired and worked up a very pretty and thorough HMB, using sources such as Bethany at Happy to Be Called Mommy (see her main binder post here, and you can pull more posts out here), Large Family Logistics (check out the sidebar - the blog has since moved here), and Home Ec 101. It has sat on my counter for two years, pretty much untouched. I have the tool, now I need to USE it! Since it's been sitting for so long, I'd like to tweak it and then post it here.

4) Get to bed on time. I tend to want a few hours to dink around after Goose goes to bed, and if it isn't until 8:30 (as it is when she takes a good nap), then that really pushes my bedtime back. I also find myself wandering kind of aimlessly around the interwebs at that hour, and I don't know that does anybody any good. I'm thinking I need a much more concerted effort to pick a time (say 10 o'clock) to start getting ready for bed, and then just wind down and go. to. bed. We'll see how that goes.

It seems like I had a few more ideas in mind, but I think they could be lumped under these broad strokes anyway. Hopefully I'll do better than I did last year! You can see a lot more Lenten resolutions over at Kitchen Stewardship.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Link Roundup - Poker Party Edition

This weekend was our now-annual poker party, this is the fourth year. My sweet hubs has won three of the years, which kinda helps with my grocery bill from providing the food! :>) This year I got to play and it was a lot of fun plus I did reasonably well. And learned more for next year! Thanks to my parents being here, both Hubs and I got to take a nice long nap this afternoon. Good times. :>)

Lots of good stuff this week -

Somehow this didn't get included last week, and they are SO CUTE! Make a garden on your wrist at Salty Pineapple - a sweet little fabric wrist corsage for little ones, but click through and see how she came up with her blog name. :>)

Also SO CUTE - Sock Owl at Whimsy Loft.

For Valentine's Day next year, I'm tucking away these heart suckers and heart candies from the Idea Room.

Someday I hope to end up with a bunch of my dad's old ties, so I'm collecting ideas like this tie headband from Craft Envy.

This is a fun idea - check out this tiny tights to knee socks tutorial at the appropriately named Ruffles and Stuff. :>)

I am utterly fascinated by this Hula Hoop Dome Tent at Obsessively Stitching. Did I mention it's made from bed sheets and cost less than $10?

Though I don't wear Goose much anymore, and she still fits in front anyway, I'm intrigued by these Baby Wearing Coat instructions at The Bavarian Connection. (Unfortunately I'm having trouble getting the other links to work. Weird.)

I *really* like this idea - how to dry mushrooms in the oven from the kitchn. Fresh mushrooms are expensive and kind of hard to come by out here in the middle of nowhere...

Still on the search for pizza recipes, here's a pan pizza recipe at Serious Eats.

These sound super yummy - peanut butter power bars at Salt and Chocolate.

So Ash Wednesday is a day of fasting for Catholics, right? My Lutheran sister-in-law sent me a link to Chubba Gurl and I made up my own emoticon (is that the right word?) for drool. But I prevailed! And am now digging around over there to add to my collection of eleventy thousand recipes...

Here's a recipe that we made already this morning - ours didn't turn out quite as pretty but they were still yummy! It's Christmas Eggs at Finding Joy in My Kitchen.

I still think of Sarah's mention of serving "carbs covered in sugar" for breakfast, but it doesn't stop me from wanting to try things like these traditional waffles with a little kick at Jolly Mom. (The kick is vanilla and cinnamon, by the way.)

Since Hubs has a much greater fascination with the Olympics than I do, I'm only now forming an appreciation for cute and fun stuff like these Olympic Gold Medal Cookies (with bonus torch tutorial!) at AlphaMom by Cindy at Skip to My Lou.

How fun is this??? Indoor Fun with Edible Paint at Living Locurto.

Not sure if anybody has noticed, but I don't include all that many pictures on my blog because I take lousy pictures, and I explain things to death anyway. But this may change things a bit - Wisdom of the Moon explains low light pictures with point and shoot. Let's just say at least I've finally figured out how to turn my flash off using the handy button on the back of the camera with the flash symbol. Who knew?

Excellent posts on celebrating Lent: Karen Edmisten's Meaningful Lent: Monstrously Long Post, Kimberlee at Pondered in My Heart's A Little Late for Lent, Jessica at Shower of Roses' A Few of Our Lenten Activities, Kate Wicker at Momopoly's Lent for Little Ones, and Michelle at Rosetta Stone's Stations of the Cross for Children.

After the big pile of links the last couple of weeks, this week seems short. (You're all thinking "whew!" :>) Happy clicking!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

40 Bags - Bag #1

I'm putting this one up first because I'm hoping one of you guys can tell me what to do with it. "It" is a bag of scraps left over from making baby leg warmers (see the sidebar for my Etsy shop :>)).

So basically, it's toes and heels and slivers trimmed off, and I'm not sure why some of the toes are split like the ones right on top, but I'm hoping there was some reason I trimmed them like that. (I'm thinking so the sock would lay flatter when I was attempting to cut the toe part off...)

It's been in a closet for about two years now, and I've not once thought "oh, THAT'S what I could use these for!" - so I'm thinking it's time they go.

As an overall update, I'm up to over 30 bags already. (Yes, it helped very much that Goose spent a couple of days with my mom and I got super motivated.) I'm thinking I need to shoot for more than 40, because I have scarcely felt a pinch so far. There have been a few things that I've wavered about whether or not to get rid of them, but I'm trying to be a great deal more objective and err on the side of getting rid of it, especially if I can easily get another one if I do end up needing it later. I need to remember that I don't need STUFF, I need Jesus.

[Speaking of remembering, keep in mind that you can adjust this to fit your family and your individual circumstances. One friend is going to hold a garage sale with her clutter and use the proceeds to pay down debt, which I think is a prudent thing to do. My sweet cousin has decided that for her house, one "bag" will be the equivalent of what would sell for $25 at a thrift store. Personally, I'm using all sizes of bags and all methods of disposal - I am in the process of Freecycling a huge pile right now!]

Some things I've been thinking of as I'm organizing and decluttering - this post from a Slob Comes Clean asks two questions: "Where would I go if I was looking for this item?" (take it there) and "If I needed this item, would it ever occur to me that I already have one?" (If no, put it in the garage sale for Nony, GET RID OF IT for me). It seems so simple, but it has been very helpful.

The other thing I've been keeping in mind is something I read in the Tightwad Gazette (I think). Which, probably not coincidentally, I thought I had lost but FOUND in a pile of CLUTTER. Heh. I would love to give you the exact quote, but that would require sitting down and re-reading the books (I have the first and second one, not the third, it's at our lovely local library!) and I really should get upstairs and get to work on the housekeeping portion of my Lenten resolutions - post is coming on that, too.

Anyway, I remember Amy telling us that even if an item was given to you by someone that you love, it doesn't mean that you don't love them if you don't keep that item. To wit, even though you love Great Auntie Gert, it's OK for you to give away the widgit-maker she gave you for your wedding that you've not used since. In fact, when I reflect on what I have learned about detachment and wrote about in my initial 40 bags post, I think it's a bit selfish of me to hang onto something that I have no foreseeable intentions of using, because someone else could be using it instead. (The things of this earth will rust and be eaten by moths, it is the treasures in heaven that are most important!)

If anybody would like to provide an update in the comments or link to a post, I'd love to hear how you're doing!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Link Roundup - MELTING Edition

Holy cow, it's finally warm enough that there's some melting going on out there. I can't tell you how happy I am to see that, except for the whole slush/mud thing. As I came back from feeding my barn cats today, I told Hubs that's one thing I am completely not prepared to encounter when we live on the farm. I guess that's what MUDrooms are for...

But anyway, here are some links that will NOT leave muddy footprints on your freshly scrubbed floor -

Groundhog Day is long over and I'm still cracking up over this Felt Groundhog Finger Puppet at Skip to My Lou. We gotta do this next year!!!

These Fused Plastic Sandwich Wraps at Chica and Jo are awesome - the best part is the little messages that are fused underneath the top layer.

These Fold Up Cuff Pants are too cute, and even though they're part of the BOY month, they're modeled by a girl so I know they'd be that adorable on Goose, too. (@ ikat bag)

And because I found myself clicking all over the place at ikat bag before I had hardly blinked, here are a few more super cute and fun projects: felt food (sort of): horse and unicorn food (love it!), foam dirt, and foam sofa which I have long loved from afar but never considered for Goose 'cause I'm also not impressed that they're always screaming with cartoon characters. [and SERIOUSLY if you can keep yourself from clicking the rest of the foam posts on the sidebar (look under the April posts) you're a much stronger person than I am!]

Just in time for Valentine's Day (well, just barely) - check out this crazy cute Tutu T-Shirt at Joy's Hope. WOW!

SO SWEET - Kissing Hand Necklaces at No Time For Flashcards.

Here is an amazing pattern and tutorial for a Pettiskirt (subtitled: or What I Did on My Summer Holidays! Hee.) at Made By Bronwyn. It's lovely! And as a detail nerd, I so appreciate the level of information provided.

For a few of you pregnant mama friends out there, Smockity Frocks shows how to Make Your Own Bella Band.

Ohh, these felt band-aids at Pink and Green Mama are so sweet! (and the felt TP for the stuffed frog who is also working on potty training just plain cracked me up!) And if you're looking for delicious, check out her post on Felt Cinnamon Rolls that are making me hungry. :>)

Another BOY post, I love these Tie Shirts at Saltwater Kids - so fun!

I'm still laughing over this Hairdo Hat for Baby at Sew Can Do. Tee hee - click through just for the pictures, if nothing else!

What a fun idea - Smashed Peas and Carrots took a long sleeved older girl's shirt, and turned it into a Short Sleeved Toddler Dress with matching Legwarmers. [note to self: check Target clearance section!]

I'm really digging this Valentine's Art Purse from Treasures for Tots - since moving into my enormous mom purse, I need something like this!

Tomatoes are one thing my garden seems to produce in abundance, and I am always trying to learn something new about cooking with them. This page at Tipnut had some new things for me! Also at Tipnut, a page on garlic - I know so many people that rave about cooking with fresh garlic and I gotta tell you, garlic scares me a little. But it is delicious, and super good for you, too.

Perhaps this fits better under Pray & Ponder, but I'll put it here anyway. :>) Catholic Cuisine recently linked back to a post from last year on Chicken Broth on Fridays: Yes or No? and I appreciated the insight. The follow up article is at EWTN: Why No Chicken on Days of Abstinence.

I love a good breakfast casserole, and I also love not having to get up at o'dark thirty to put it in the oven, as allowed by this Ultimate Breakfast Casserole at A Year of Slow Cooking. I tried doing this once and it got kind of rubbery (did I mention there were guests involved?) ... perhaps it's now time to give it another try.

Mmm, I might have to try these Pizza Bites from Annie's Eats for our upcoming poker party. (Hubs LOVES hosting it, and I get to cook for a bunch of people. It's mostly a win-win situation. :>))

Fancy Pants Prints has a cute printable for a Check Yes or No Valentine's Day Freebie. My favorite part - it asks for the candy back if the recipient checks no. :>)

We don't exactly have Craigslist in our area, but I really dig this concept: How to Enlist Gmail to Sell your Craigslist Items for You, at Mighty Bargain Hunter.

Goose doesn't really know much about pretty, sparkly glitter just yet but I've been amused reading how it's the bane of so many crafty parents. Learning Vicariously has a neat method for Easy Cleanup Sparkles that is a great idea!

Another Homemade Playdough Recipe from My Montessori Journey this time, and note the fun dough-of-the-month suggestions! Along those lines, check out Play Dough in the Tutor's Toolkit at Training Happy Hearts for the benefits to little ones playing with the squishy stuff.

If you're a fellow LOST geek, check out Rocks In My Dryer the day after an episode for some theory swapping. (Yup, I'm looking at you, Angela!)

I'm amazed at this Painted Brick Wall at The Little Green Bean - it's a regular wall painted to LOOK like brick. And it does!

I have mentioned before that I've been enjoying the blog A Slob Comes Clean, and it has really inspired me as I've been working on my 40 Bags in 40 Days decluttering challenge. Nony does it again with the post All Housekeeping Points Expire at Midnight - I really like both the original story on which it is based as well as the housekeeping twist she gave it.

Along those lines, this Cluttered Coffeetable post at Daily Dwelling spoke to me with this quote: "An organizing consultant recently spoke to our MOPS group and she defined clutter as unmade decisions." I have found that to be particularly true in my house - if I don't know what to do with it but I want to keep it, I'll just stick it somewhere for now. As if it'll grow legs and walk itself to a proper home by itself...

I loved this piece at Faith & Family Live called Sibling Revelry. And I honestly didn't catch the play on words until just now. Yup.

With a nod to my friend Jenn, I was really moved by a post at I Was A Foster kid called To Foster Parents: Top 10 Things to Make a Foster Child's First Day Easier. One of my regular rosary intentions is for kids who don't have a home or a "for real" family and I send a big hug to all the CASA volunteers and others who are working on behalf of these precious souls.

Never could I give up my grains entirely, but Katie at Kitchen Stewardship is giving us much food for thought regarding grains this month, including the Nutritional Value of Whole Grains.

I really appreciated Stacey's post on her RCIA Class on the Eucharist at Almost There.

At the National Catholic Register, you can read Why Big Families Might Be Easier.

Happy surfing! And, apologies that this is a bit longer than usual, but I'm finally caught up!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Make the 40 Bags Challenge Work for You

My Bible study group has decided to undertake the 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge to declutter for Lent. You can read the previous post I wrote about it here and see how the lesson for that week tied in perfectly, urging us to detach ourselves from material possessions and store up our treasures in heaven.

For me, I got a big nudge when Hubs noted we were growing out of our perfectly fine and large enough house. We live far better than most of the world, and the real rub was realizing that by my hanging onto these things that other people could be using, I am depriving them. (See my mittens comment in the above link. Though it only came out to be three extra pair of mittens...)

One thing upon which my entire study group agreed was that we each needed to make adjustments for our family. Those who worked full time should not come home and ignore their family for the sake of decluttering! We also wanted to avoid too much work on Sunday, which is supposed to be a day of rest but for many, is anything but that. We also agreed that any size "bag" would be deemed appropriate. Finally, we noted that it was up to each person as to what they did with their bags.

If people had the storage space, they could hang onto their items until the annual rummage sale fundraiser. I also sent out an e-mail with the hours our local Catholic Social Services thrift store is open, contact information regarding our local Freecycle and Sell-It-Here groups (we don't really have Craigslist around here), and I also included info for our local domestic violence shelter. Our tiny local thrift store accepts donations at all times, as we discussed at our meeting. I'm also trying to get creative, for example since my spotted kitty came from a Humane Society, I'm taking two bags of towels to the local one (and a bag of rugs if they want them).

Already, I have compiled more than 30 bags of stuff. Some are plastic shopping bag sized, some are paper grocery bag sized, some are garbage bag sized, and one will be even bigger when we get rid of our old entertainment center. I also need to admit that so far, I've barely felt pinched about the stuff I'm giving away. Some of it was given to us by people we love, and I am having to take a page from The Tightwad Gazette (I think?) and remind myself that because I'm giving away something that was given to me, it doesn't mean that I love the giver any less. More importantly, though, I know that I'm just getting rid of the "fluff" and once that is done, I need to challenge myself to really detach and get rid of things I truly don't need - and that other people can use.

I have also been mulling over something else I want to do for Lent, but I've not yet sat down and pulled it all together. I still haven't finished my New Year's Resolutions (there's a reason I have a category called Mid Year Resolutions instead...), and they mainly involve tightening up my household schedule and being much more proactive. I think my family deserves better along those lines than what I've been giving them. I've been thinking lately that if Jesus were a member of my household, what would I do differently? Because He is here...

To see what others are doing to draw closer to our Lord during Lent, visit Kitchen Stewardship's What Are You Doing For Lent? carnival.

Baby Gifts From Your Stash

One of my sweet cousins had a baby about 7 months after Goose was born, and between the financial pinch of me quitting work and the time pinch of the stores where she was registered being too far from Goose's crib where she required naps at frequent intervals, I had to come up with something . . . inventive, shall we say. Some of the things were pulled out of my own "supply" closet, while others were purchased, and my mom split the cost with me. I felt we were able to shower my dear cousin with items that I had found to be very helpful as I transitioned to being a new mom.

Baby Sling - one that I had been given that didn't work for us.

Ear Plugs - I bought a multi-pack when it became clear that the tiniest noise over the monitor would rouse me from sleep. (Yes, I needed a monitor. Our bedroom and the nursery are on different floors. We slept in the spare room for a while but had to keep the doors closed to keep the cats out.) So I put a pair in a small plastic bag and gave them to her that way.

Safety Pin - I attached it over my bar strap to indicate which side Goose was due to nurse on the next time. (note, 1. that typo is my way of not really typing the actual word for all the weirdos out there searching such things to find, and 2. I didn't actually stick it through the fabric, but I put the strap inside the pin. Otherwise the straps would have been shot in short order!)

Soothies - Goose had some trouble latching on, so these gel pads were, well, soothing. I see that Medela has a cheaper version though either way, I'd look for them locally to avoid shipping charges. I had a package left over.

Incontinence Pads - Though I did not need them for their intended purpose, I had some on hand to put underneath Goose and me when I nursed her in the side-lying position. (Scroll down to see links for nursing while laying down.) I hadn't thought about it at the time, but I have since bought at a consignment sale a washable, reusable pad for Goose's crib that would work well, and would pull double duty!

Heavy-Flow Maxi Pads - I had some left over that I passed along to her.

Mother's Milk Tea - a friend had given me a few boxes, so I passed one along.

Nursing Pads - though now I might be tempted to try to make some...

Safety Q Tips - for some reason, I seemed to have trouble finding these in stores. I don't think I was looking in the right places. :>)

Disposable Changing Pads - Especially at first, I hated the thought of laying my baby down on a nasty changing table in a public restroom. I bought a package of these pads, and I think I only actually threw one away, so they certainly last. (They are also good for diaper blowouts - which we thankfully didn't experience very often.) Since I had so many left over, I just gave her a loose one.

Things I bought:
Medela Micro-Steam Bags - We battled thrush forever, and I since my cousin intended to nurse and keep working, I knew she'd have to pump, and these are a quick and easy way to make sure things are sanitized.

Aquaphor - I didn't realize this had a "following" as a diaper rash treatment, but it sure worked for us. Don't bother with the more expensive baby version, I'm pretty sure it's the same thing.

Pacifiers - I don't remember the brand we used, but we got them at Target and they were very round, which seemed most like mama.

Links - we used these to attach everything to everything else.

Mesh Laundry Delicates Bags - I love these bags for washing socks! They're intended to keep your unmentionables safe in the wash, but they work wonders for keeping tiny socks from getting lost. I also found myself much less stressed when I went to fold, for some random reason. I buy them at the Dollar Store.

Milk Freezer Storage Bags - I wanted to support her decision to nurse as much as I could! She tried the ice cube-type trays for a while but found them more difficult to thaw when the baby needed milk at daycare, so she switched to the bags.

Cute Zipper Pull - for the diaper bag! I seemed to be all thumbs when it came time to try to unzip my diaper bag in a hurry, so I found a cute zipper pull to be very helpful.

Journal - I was able to find a few of these on sale. When Goose was tiny, I journaled everything - diapers, sleeping, nursing - to try and figure out why she cried so much. I also made a brief foray into elimination communication (also known as infant potty training) and wanted to track her diapers for that, as well. When she started on solid foods, I tracked them in the journal, as well as new teeth. I still make a brief entry for each day noting sleep (because we still struggle), and I also keep track of certain potty issues she may or may not have. And, of course, anything cute she happens to do or say. :>) You think you'll remember, but you never do.

Rum - it was a small bottle. Just in case.

The Happiest Baby on the Block DVD - I cannot say enough good things about this! You can read an article from Parenting magazine that gives a summary here. I think all new parents should see it!

Anybody have any other tried-and-true things that you might add to the list?

For more frugal ideas, visit Life as Mom.

Babies, Birth and Midwives

OK, so for this post I am completely stealing word-for-word what my dear friend Shaye wrote here on her blog, Miller Memories. She nails it.

PS - note the last 3+ minutes of the video are citing sources, so it's really closer to 5 minutes. And you can see a pic of me and Goose at 3:17, coincidentally her birth date. :>)
Nebraska Friends of Midwives is a consumer-based, grassroots group working to educate women in an attempt to better our prenatal care and birthing outcomes. We're currently lobbying for three proposed bills that would allow more options and greater safety measures in our state. Niecey of The Monkeys and Me created the following video for our group, leaving us breathless in her wake. As you'll see in the 8-minute video, there's an overwhelming amount of research and statistical data which show Nebraska to be in a serious crisis when it comes to safe, normal birth. So take just a few minutes to watch the video, contemplate our current statistics, and meet me on the other side to learn of ways you can help out this month!!

Today, February 11th, our group is hosting a luncheon at the capitol to meet with our legislators regarding LB 406, LB 457, and LB 481 (you may click on each one to go directly to the official bill in PDF format). These bills are only the first steps needed to help catch us up to most other states. Here's how YOU can help:

• Read and sign our brand new online petition HERE.
• Find your senator HERE and call to ask where they stand on "the midwife bills." Sometimes that's all it takes to pique their interest.
• Join the Nebraska Friends of Midwives e-list HERE or our discussion board HERE.
• If you feel inclined, we could sure use a few new members. It's only $10 for a year, but it increases our numbers and power exponentially. It doesn't matter your gender, age, experience, etc.

There are many more things I could tell you to do, but these really are the best beginning steps to begin getting involved in bettering our birth climate. Currently, Nebraska and Alabama are at the bottom of the barrel on these liberties. We'll soon see which state is the last to get this liberating legislation passed. We're so close, people.

If you live here, please lend a hand (or if you know someone who lives here, please send them a link to this post!). I'll beg if I have to.
Back to Lenetta: I was blown away by the statistical evidence that Nebraska - and the US as a whole! - is moving the wrong direction with regards to birth-related outcomes for mothers and babies. Things are getting WORSE for us!

I would also like to note that there are always going to be cases where mother and baby require the care of an obstetrician (I'm praying for one such friend right now!), and Cesarean sections have saved the lives of many who would not have otherwise survived. These cases should be exceptions, though, and it seems that more and more often they are becoming a very frightening norm.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Gratituesday - Our Corn Stove!

I've been meaning to wax poetic about something this winter . . . our corn stove! Even the Goose loves it, she wants it lit when it's not on so we can be "all warm and toasty!"

Right now, we're experiencing yet another cold snap, which isn't a big surprise since February is supposed to be cold and snowy this year. It's amazing how much peace I get from having this thing lit with a hopper full of corn, though.

Hubs bought it the first winter we were married. I was a bit skeptical, since I don't like to be too hot, and I also was a bit scared of running it. I didn't mess with it at all the first winter, but I have since learned how to run it and do everything except a few fixes that are beyond my grasp (something about a chain that falls off once in a while) and take out the ash - that pan is HEAVY and I let Hubs handle it. I actually thought about writing a post on how to light it, but I think that would be dull as dirt for most of you... During my recent cleaning and decluttering, I found the notes I made when learning to light the stove and had a chuckle at myself. I've come a long way!

With regards to being too hot, it certainly does get that way sometimes. We have figured out how to position a fan so that it moves heat into the other part of the house, though it does leave our basement QUITE chilly because no heat comes down there. But, since I now know how to shut it down AND start it back up once it does cool off, it's not so bad in the main part of our house. :>)

We're actually considering replacing our corn stove with one of the fancy new self-igniting ones. It has a thermostat, and will shut itself off and turn back on to keep the room at that temperature. How great is that??? And with trading in our old stove plus the biomass stove tax credit, I think we could get a heck of a deal.

You can see what others are thankful for over at Heavenly Homemakers.

PS - I'm also extremely thankful that a certain Goose is taking a nap today. She skipped naps the past two days and it's been a bit of a struggle for both of us.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Link Roundup - On the Road Edition

Thanks to the miracle that is everyday technology, I am currently typing this from my laptop using cell towers for an internet connection as we're zipping down I-80 on our way to pick up Goose. I've had a great couple of days of decluttering without her, but I'm anxious to have her back in our nest where she belongs.

I'm thinking I need to do another mid-week roundup 'cause I have lots of fun things to share, but you know what they say about the best laid plans... Let's see what's going on this week:

Don't let the tongue twister title scare you, and even if you already know how to make tutus, check out Angie's Twirly Tee Tutu Tute at Treasures for Tots. It's a brilliant way to handle tulle, which is rather difficult to cut.

I can't NOT post these, it seems - paper flowers at Tipnut. LOTS of paper flowers.

This nightstand into a play kitchen stove at Vintage Songbird is *amazing*!

Sooo sweet - Why I Love You Pillows at How Does She? - they're made out of dollar aisle dish towels, too!

I nodded along at the part about still searching for the "perfect" granola bar recipe, but being more like a cookie than a granola bar is not a bad thing in my book! Cooking During Stolen Moments has oatmeal butterscotch bars that sound yummy.

Oh, Amy, I don't see this ending well for my rear end . . . rice krispy roll at The Finer Things. MMMM.

While we're on the subject, these Rice Krispy Kisses at Roots and Wings are cute cute cute! My favorite part is the paper sticking out the top, just like the real thing. :>)

I can't say I'm surprised that this Cherry Cheese Bread is served in heaven - it sounds divine! (@ somewhat simple)

More yummy breakfast food - Fluffy Whole Grain Pancakes at the Apple Cider Mill. (Though I'll admit I will never look at pancakes again without hearing Sarah in my head, saying "nothing like starting the day with carbs covered in sugar!")

Along with the above FLOWERS, Tipnut also has a post on different types of FLOUR. (groan!)

Scroll down in this post of Saturday Snapshots at Here in the Bonny Glen to see photos turned into coloring pages, and check out the comments for tips on how to do it. Neat! There is also a follow-up post here.

These Simple Solutions to Everyday Issues at the Nester is great, but make sure you take time to scroll through the comments - lots of good stuff there!

I've not made time to call the number yet, but I took the slip of paper at the post office advertising jobs with the 2010 Census. You can read why Trent at the Simple Dollar thinks it's a great opportunity here.

Chris at Bread of Life has written an excellent post on Pope John Paul II and the Essence of Manliness. I have linked a number of times to Chris's wife, Stacey, who writes Almost There. They both are wonderful writers with an abundance of faith and I'm so glad they share it with us!

As Easter approaches, I need to make use of these 20 Tips for Making a Good Confession at "What Does the Prayer Really Say?" (also known as one of the longest blog names EV-AR...)

I already have another 20+ links waiting in the wings, so hopefully I'll get another roundup pulled together soon. In the meantime, happy surfing!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Today's Small Successes

It's Small Successes day over at Faith & Family Live - you can read other moms' successes here. My successes:

1) On Tuesday, Goose and I headed to my parents' house for a brief visit. I intended to stay a couple of days, and leave Goose there for a few more days. (At Grandma's, when Mama is gone, it's ALL CARE BEARS ALL THE TIME.) After hearing the weather report, I decided to cut my visit short and head back yesterday. It has snowed and slushed all day so far, so I think I made the right choice.
2) Since I am Goose-less, I have been working hard to get ahead on my 40 bags in 40 days challenge for Lent. I have worked so hard on our spare bedroom today that I haven't even bothered to eat lunch - and I am NOT a girl that misses many meals. :>)

3) I *finally* found a new purse! I have been looking since Goose potty-trained and I was able to give up the diaper bag. I needed something pretty big and I didn't want to spend much money.

The only thing it lacks is a shoulder strap, but I think I can take care of that myself - I bought some heavy duty needles and thread yesterday, and I'm already plotting in my head. Or maybe I'll leave it. I definitely like being able to pull the strap over my head and across my body when we get home and I have a bunch of stuff to carry in from the car.

(Though from the size of this baby, I can put half the stuff I need to carry in directly IN the purse...)

And a bonus #4 success . . . I didn't get out of bed until after 8:30 today. Hubs is gone, though his alarm went off at six AM, so it's not like I slept straight through the entire time, but it sure was nice nonetheless!

Anybody else having a successful day?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Link Roundup - Ow! Edition

I don't know what on earth is wrong with me, but I slipped on the stairs Saturday and fell down the last two, then twisted my ankle walking to church Sunday morning - thankfully I didn't fall, since I was carrying my Goose! Neither was a particularly bad injury, but my other parts sure are sore - i.e. the ones that my friendly neighborhood chiropractor puts back into place each month. The bad thing is that I just visited him last Tuesday, so it'll be a gamble to see if I make it four weeks to my next visit.

So let's do something that WON'T cause me injury - check out these links: (and by the way, this isn't even all of them... but I need to get this sucker posted already!)

I don't know that I have the patience to make one, and I certainly don't have the cash to buy one, but oh, look at these felt card table playhouses from Imaginative Play Toys on Etsy.

These Homemade Baby Toys at Chasing Cheerios are super cute and easy!

Check out this button snake at Counting Coconuts! Not only does the idea itself rock, but I am always looking for ideas for my nephew, since between Goose and my four nieces, all I know is girl stuff. [and speaking of such, Dana at made is teaming up to Celebrate the Boy with boy stuff all through February - I can't wait!]

You don't have to celebrate Kansas Day to enjoy these fabric sunflowers from Skip To My Lou.

File these under "so cute they make my ovaries hurt" - Soft Baby Shoe Tutorial from Family Centered.

In light of the little bowtie posted recently (and along the lines of celebrating the boy above!), I couldn't NOT post this child's tie at Keeping it Simple.

While it's a Valentine's tradition at Kojo Designs, these lovely bundles could be made any color and decorated for anything!

Since they showed up on So You Think You're Crafty, I've been eyeing these Rollie Pollies by Dana at Made. Though I'm a bit afraid I'd loose a Goose in there! :>)

This week's felt food: pancakes from Mia Moo Designs.

Here are grain free brownies at Naturally Knocked Up. Aaand now I'm hungry...

... And this isn't going to help. Homemade donuts? In 20 minutes or less? I am SO IN. (@ Cooking During Stolen Moments)

Katie at Kitchen Stewardship tells us How to Reverse Engineer a Recipe for Real Food Quality, which is extremely helpful as I'm on a quest to eat food that does not have unpronouncable ingredients. (Admittedly it's going to be a long journey for me...)

Tipnut has a Q&A on Olive Oil.

No Time For Flash Cards has a neat 5 Senses Touch Activity - everybody wins! :>)

This is a great way to support efforts in Haiti - Craft Hope over at Etsy. Crafters have donated goods and all proceeds are going Doctors Without Borders. Not to mention there is some very, very cute stuff over there!

These DIY thank yous would really help little ones along - and great practice, too! (@ Skip To My Lou)

See sweet baby Clara and get inspired at Frugal Family Fun Blog's rewind back to their indoor sandbox using oatmeal. A lot of oatmeal!

I'd call this borderline between "Make" and "Do" - not difficult, but time-consuming. Either way, I like this twine covered bottle with a twist at Fun To Craft.

My favorite line from this article on breastfeeding in Mongolia from Momzelle: "In Mongolia, breastmilk is not just for babies, it’s not only about nutrition, and it’s definitely not something you need to be discreet about. It’s the stuff Genghis Khan was made of."

I have really been enjoying reading A Slob Comes Clean, and it is helping to inspire me in my 40 Bags in Days Challenge. I've found myself asking the questions from this post over and over lately: Where would I go if I was looking for this item? (take it there) If I needed this item, would it ever occur to me that I already have one? (If no, put it in the garage sale). Very, very helpful!!!

And, Karen Edmisten blogs about decluttering and faith, a reminder that I really need right now. (Need to store up my treasures in heaven, not here!)

I learned a lot from this Faith & Family Live article Turning to Mary for Comfort. I've found myself doing just that a lot more lately.

Melissa Wiley has an interesting post (with a link to an article) In Praise of Keyboarding, how typing makes creative writing easier.