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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Prepping? A Balanced Approach

     You can't go very far on Pinterest these days, or around the web for that matter without seeing loads on "prepping". It seems people "prep" for different reasons, from fearing a polar shift, or expecting some sort of appocolypse, down to a big snow storm or hurricane. Prepping is all about being prepared from some sort of disaster. And I'm finding that its as personal as your tastes in food are. My plan may not be the "recommended" one but it is a plan that we feel is wise and balanced.

As a girl who always likes to be prepared for anything it is easy to get sucked into  the fear of others and concern for my family and want to pack out the basement with all sorts of food and supplies. Also as a believer in Jesus Christ I never want my security to come from my stock pile. My security should be in Him. So how does one balance this? I take great encouragement from the Proverbs 31 woman who "provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls" and "when it snows she has not fear for her household for all of them are clothed in scarlet". The passage further talks about all the work she does for her family to prepare for their needs. To this planner girl this is gold!

So what does "prepping" look like at our house?

Well, my goal is to have 3-6 months of food stocked up. I do this, sticking within my weekly budget, by buying extras of whatever is on sale and that I have coupons for. This is easier said than done but is made a lot more achievable by following a local deal site. I use Stocking this much food helps to prepare for any food shortages, price increases or disasters but also for more personal disasters like a job loss or major financial crisis. If a washer needs repair and we don't have the cash on hand, going without buying food for a week or two won't hurt and will meet our need. Another benefit to doing this is saving money! If you only buy what it on sale {and everything goes on sale at least once every 3-6 months} you are saving a great deal in the long run. Make sure to buy things you will actually use and rotate your supply so that you use things before they expire.

Stored in one location are all of our flashlights {including a wind up one}, radio, extra batteries, candles and plenty of matches. Because we have a well, in a power outage this wouldn't work, so we have dozens of gallons of water stashed. {These have to be refilled every 6-12 months unless a few drops of bleach are added}. This is easy to do if you haven't started this yet. Every time you use up a gallon of milk, wash the jug out well and fill with water. Be sure to write a date on the cap of when it was filled and update this when you refill them.

On top of these basic supplies we have a large first aid kit, duct tape {whose benefits are many in a crisis from making rope to creating splints for injuries and repairing a broken window or tent}, tarps, a large tent, and outdoor cooking capabilities. We have a small garden that has produced some veggies for us but is an area that we hope to grow in. {no pun intended! ;)}

These preparations are basic but are far more than most families. I know that I have been promised that, "my God shall supply all my needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus" Philippians 4:19, and this is where my true stock pile lies!

Please don't get so focused on stockpiling for your physical needs that you neglect the emotional and spiritual ones. Stockpiling for your spirit and emotions means cultivating your relationships, building your marriage, and growing your faith. Being prepared in these ways will  help to safeguard you from divorce, loneliness, worry, fear, and  will help to create strong bonds with family, friends & God. 

I hope you have been encouraged to be prepared in many ways, for whatever life throws at you!

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Summer Styling

It's been a while, I know. What that means is that you're in for it today!
Rather than do a lot of little posts I'm just going to jam pack this one. You'll get your money's worth today! ;)

What I love most about Summer {besides the kids playing outside} is that the pace slows down, I work one less day per week, the kids activities wane, the windows are open, the backyard fire pit gets a lot of action, and I have a little more time to do some fun projects!

First up is this ugly tray I found on clearance at Big Lots. Ugly because I'm not a coffee drinker and ugly because of the fakeness of the fake distressed look it was attempting. Of course an overhaul was in order.

I had been wanted a smaller tray for my small coffee table to contain the remotes and the size was perfect. I found these plastic place mats at Meijer and trimmed it down with scissors to fit the bottom, added some spray paint to the whole thing and it was done!

Here's another new addition. My "T". I found it on clearance at Hobby Lobby {always check their clearance isle!} This little guy helps to balance the wall out and adds a bit more of the galvanized steel look that I love.

Moving right along, I wanted to change up things in the kitchen. My bread box has been in this location for I am sure at least 10 years. The kitchen has changed around it, but it remains! 
When I saw this darling shelf that a coworkers husband makes I knew it was perfect for this spot!

{here's the sad bread box}

Now the new little shelf.

Isn't it cute?

That chalkboard was a little mirror that I sprayed with chalkboard paint, and searched for the design on the pinterest. The peonies came from my sweet neighbor.

Can you see the new home for the breadbox?

I love that little lettuce plate {a Goodwill find} and that driftwood piece is plentiful along Lake Michigan.

Its funny how making a small change can freshen up the whole room. Try it! You might not have a cute little shelf but change out one thing in your room; maybe a new throw pillow, painting a picture frame you already own in a bright color or just rearranging a room. Anything that helps you enjoy your space more is important. We all want a space that we look forward to coming home to and sometimes the little things can make the biggest difference!

My next little project is this cork board, another Goodwill find. I think its going to be navy blue and go in my son's room.

And last but not least is this little banner made from pages from an old Readers Digest Condensed Book.

Because its not a working fireplace I backed with with some chevron contact paper. 

Hopefully I will be popping in and out this summer! 

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Israel: Trip of a Lifetime

Last fall my husband was approached by someone asking if we would be interested in joining a group from a local christian high school traveling to Israel and, yes! I remember him calling me as I was leaving the kids dentist having yet another front tooth rebuilt after being broken off {3 times so far with 2 different kids!~apparently together my husband and I don't genetically make strong teeth!} He asked if I was sitting down. I was. But I recall thinking that I can't really handle more bad news. 
When he told me about this idea it didn't register, I was waiting for the punch line, the bad news. It never came! :)

What followed was several months of  planning, {we do have 4 kids we left behind}, packing, working out {its a hiking trip}, and getting a passport. I had never been outside of the USA before {unless you count Canada, but living in Michigan you are bound to go through Canada a few times in your life}. So this was the hugest deal ever!

We are so grateful for the chance to visit these countries! 
This trip was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity! As a believer in Jesus Christ, this trip added dimension to my faith which is a gift you can't put a price on!

We went with a group from a local Christian High School that also included a few others from around the U.S. that wanted to come. The trip was led by the Bible teacher from the high school and a Jordanian and Israeli guide. At each site we heard about the cultural and historical background by the guide then the Bible teacher talked about the Biblical significance.

I anticipated that this trip would have a big spiritual impact on me, and it did. What I didn't expect is where that impact would come from. I thought that the places that are of most biblical significance would have the most spiritual impact, but that wasn't the case. In fact the opposite was true. Let me explain this. At the sites where Christ was born and at the place of his death, homage has been paid to these sites in the building of large churches gilded in every way possible. The aura is far from the humble beginning and ending that Christ had.

I was struck anew by the life of the Israelites. Those poor souls! I totally get them now! After climbing my first mountain in the dessert and sucking the life out of my camelback, it hit me like a ton of bricks that I would have probably been the chief complainer on their exodus. God was so gracious to them {and me}! That region is so dry and rocky. You can't look up when you walk or you will fall. The ground is so uneven and full of rocks! After eating my same granola bars day after day for only 12 days I wondered what it would be like to eat Manna for years as the Israelites did. Yikes. Yep, chief complainer, right here!

{This is a view of the Red Sea, looking from Jordan across to Israel}

There is something so funny to me about a camel. I can't even explain it, but I totally got the giggles as we rode! Something about being on the other side of the world riding a lumpy camel just put me over the edge! :)
I suppose I should also admit that the other time I got the giggles was when crossing from Jordan into Israel. We were standing in line and one of the high school kids was getting the third degree about what he was writing in his journal {we think they thought he was casing out the joint!} Let me tell you that if you laugh, you may or may not get interrogated by 3 guards for a period of time. Just sayin!
{Let me interject that for a country hated by most of the world you have to take your security seriously. Its just that the edginess of the situation sometimes does me in! :) }

See, aren't they cute in a goofy sort of way?

I must admit that I was totally unprepared for the physical aspect of this trip. {If you are considering a trip of your own just know that there are plenty of total bus trips. This was not one of them!} We hiked 6 mountains, and I'm sure I discovered several more muscle groups I didn't know I had. Hiking really helps you to understand the land and the life in Bible times, as well as your threshold for perspiration! ;)

This is one of my favorite pictures. This is of Mt. Arbel where Christ spent time teaching his disciples. Its is along the shores of the Sea of Galilee.

What is so striking to me about the Sea of Galilee is that this is their only fresh water source besides the Jordan River. Water is scarce here! Living in Michigan I so take water for granted being surrounded by it, but in the middle east it is a precious resource. This is a great visual example of Jesus being the living water, and as Christians what we need to be to the world around us.
The Sea of Galilee is also known as the abyss. People in Biblical times were afraid to go out across the sea. In order to do their fishing they would stay close to shore as much as possible. 

One of the things I love about the Israeli people is their sense of community, then and now. In ancient times when you got married you built onto your parents house so that the communities were made up of these ever expanding homes and everyone lived and worked together. Now many people live in a Kubbutz. This is like a commune where they have their own farmland, animals, professional services and more to meet the needs of the people living there. All the money is pooled together and shared with those based on need. You can even apply to join a Kubbutz. You can live there free of charge  in exchange for working for a period of time to see if its where you want to live. I love that! This has challenged me to better understand the need for community and to make sure I'm doing my part in the communities I'm involved in {ie. neighborhood, church group, extended family, work, etc.}

We spent several days in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is an amazing, sad, but glorious example of the clash of religions, the depth of history {the U.S. feels so young to me now}, and the richness of a culture. It is the place that the three main world religions claim as one of their holy places. {Judaism, Islam & Christianity}. That fact alone is astounding to me!
It is also home to the most tense place in all of the world; the temple mount, where the Dome of the Rock sits. Beneath this mount is Mt. Moriah where Abraham was told to sacrifice Isaac. {Abraham is the father of Judaism, his son Ishmael the father of Islam, and forefather to Jesus Christ}. It is controlled by the Jews but the Islamic temple sits at the top, hence the tension.

This place is also a testament to the amount of power and influence of Herod {along with several other palaces. Seriously, how many palaces does one king need?} If you need more proof, here are a few of the places he built:

1. A multi-level palace on Masada
2. Ok, not a palace but cool anyways. These are the aquaducts just north of Cesarea
3. His port city of Cesarea {probably my favorite stop}
4. In Cesarea where the chariots would race
5. The Herodium. A whole mountain he built with a palace on top. {Don't ever tell a narcissist they can't do something, they will have to prove it!}
6. A fresh water pool he had that juts out into the salty Mediterranean Sea
7. The temple mount. He had this built on top of Mt. Moriah
8. The palace on top of the Herodium

There is so much more I could share, but I want to leave some things for you to see when you go yourself. 

If you decide you want to go to Israel here are a few tips:

  • Go with a tour group! Israel is a country with a lot of rules {what you can wear at each place for example} and it is so much easier to have someone do all the work of planning so you can just follow along and enjoy the sights. Plus there's a major advantage to having someone explain things as you go.
  • Know your itinerary, so that if and when you get detained at customs or border crossings you don't look like an idiot. {This may or may not be personal experience} Oh, you may want a plan for if you get the giggles in the wrong places, like a prepared sobering thought. 
  • Whether you are hiking or not, wear good shoes! The ground is really uneven every wear you go and having some hiking boots or sturdy shoes will save the day!
  • Bring snacks! Food is expensive there. To buy an ice cream bar or a coke at various places was between $3-$5.00, and you do a lot of walking! Granola bars, nuts and dried fruit are all good options.
  • Take notes along the way. I thought I would have time to really digest the information and we saw so much it just wasn't possible. Having notes really helps you to process at trip like this and remember even small details {like all the speed bumps in Jordan!}
  • Its hot. Wear breathable materials and bring layers. Its cool in the morning but gets hot as the day progresses.

Thanks for allowing this digression from my more regular type of posts! I hope you enjoyed the overview, and if you ever get such an offer to go, do it! Israel is a beautiful country, filled with beautiful people!

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Snail Shell Remodel

It feels like every time I post lately, I'm apologizing for how long its been since my last post! This time I have an even better excuse! We were in Israel and Jordan for 2 weeks. It was amazing, and life changing. I'm sure I will post about all that soon but today I have a fun little project.

When we were gone my kids stayed with my amazing parents! They deserve a medal! While they were there my youngest went to the lake with my dad and picked out these snail shells for me. Sorry buddy but they were pretty ugly! Because they were from him and he was so excited to give them to me I really wanted to find a way to keep them. So I decided on a little remodel!

Ahhhh! much better!

This was a fun and easy project and I will show you what I did, plus some ideas for showing these little beauty's off!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Laundry Time Saving Ideas

An Update:

Before I share with you an amazing way to cut laundry  time down to about an hour per week, I have to explain my recent absence. I had some major issues with my blog! For starters I had changed my email address quite a while ago and thought I had updated it in all the right places on blogger. Nope. My domain name ended up expiring without me being notified and you couldn't come here! I felt like my arm had been cut off! 
It took a week of emailing up the chain at Google to get the problem sorted out. I was so relieved but a week later when I was at my mom's house, my mom tried to pull up my blog to show my aunt something and got redirected. I thought that it must have been just on her computer but when I got home and tried to access my blog on my IPad, I too got redirected. I could have cried!
It has taken weeks of research and help from friends to rectify what appeared to be a blogjacking, but I'm so thankful to be back!

A Disclaimer:

 Despite the frustration it has also been a good time of reflection. I don't ever want my blog to be my identity. I also don't want it to be a way for me to show off my talents or anything I have. My goal is to share ideas for your home and your family that make things more organized, easier, and saves money. We all want a 'homey home' that reflects who we are and gives our family a place of safety and security. I hope you find ideas for that here! Thank you for following along, and sharing this journey with me!

What you really came for:

Of all of the home chore responsibilities, the one that by far takes the longest is laundry! It seriously takes me hours each week to wash, dry, fold and put away laundry for my family of 6. I spend time every day doing this! As much as I love my family, and feel its a God given privilege to serve them this way, I'm all for a short cut!
After a particularly frustrating weekend where I even stayed home from church to fold the 12 load mountain in my living room, I knew things had to change! I started doing research online and found some great ideas. I incorporated several of them to totally streamline the laundry process and literally cut HOURS out of my weekly laundry doing schedule! I feel like a new woman! 

Let me first say that this system is not perfect yet but it is loads better {no pun intended!} This may not be the system for you but hopefully it will give you ideas for how you can streamline your own laundry process. 

Before we get into the nuts and bolts you need to know that my kids are 5, 8, 9, & 11.
You also have to give up any idea of perfection. It took me a while, but I've finally arrived! And I try to buy mostly wash and wear clothing. We do iron on Sunday before church just what we are wearing for that day. {Oh, and my amazing hubby irons his own clothes each morning before work}.

Here's what we do:

Each kiddo has their own laundry basket and are responsible to bring their load down to the laundry room when its full, or when I ask.

I wash and dry their clothes.

As they come out of the dryer I take about 3 minutes per load to inside any out that need it and sort back into their baskets.

After 5-7 mixed loads their baskets are usually full {about once a week} and I have them take their own basket, "fold" it and put their clothes in their drawers. This is where I had to relax. I was finding that even after I had folded their clothing neatly it all became a jumbled mess after a day or two in their drawers. They know what item goes in what drawer and as long as they make it there I'm happy.

I fold and put away my husbands clothes, my own, and the towels and sheets.

This systems literally saves me hours each week! It also gives my kids ownership and teaches them responsibility. They even are beginning to give more thought about what gets thrown in the laundry because they know they will have to fold it and put it away again. 

If you need some more laundry time saving ideas try some of these:

  • Color code your kids towels. That way everyone knows whose towel is who's. You use a towel when you are clean so these only need washing 1-2 times per week. Give them each a hook in the bathroom or their bedroom to keep this towel off the floor and ready for its next use.
  • Even really young kids can learn to strip their own sheets off the bed, or pick up laundry off the floor. When my kids were able to walk we started showing them how to pick up, they thought it was great fun!
  • Unless you spill breakfast on them, jammies can be worn for several nights in a row before washing. Get your kids in the habit of putting them under the pillow when they take them off in the morning.
  • Help create laundry ownership by allowing your kids to decorate the outside of their laundry basket or put color coded ribbons on the handles.
  • Only sort what you have to. I basically do two types of loads. Darks, and lights. Dark towels, and shirts get washed with dark jeans. Light sheets get washed with socks, and gray T's. 

I would love to hear any other time saving ideas you have!

Thanks for stopping by! Its good to be back! :)

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Monday, February 17, 2014

Pinterest Recipe Hits and Misses

I love searching Pinterest for great recipes. Unfortunately you can't trust what the description says all the time; "The best brownies of all time", sadly is not always true. 

I have tried many different recipes and am always amazed and excited when I land on a true winner. A while ago I shared this post about some of my faves so far, but I included only the good ones. Today I thought I would also include what I didn't like, you know, sound the horn so to speak on ones you may want to avoid. 

This first one is so good that I can't believe I've lived without it!

Swig Sugar Cookies: Hit!

To start with, this one was my all time favorite! These cookies I am sure are solely responsible for the extra 5 pounds I'm currently sporting. They are so good! Mandi from Vintage Revivals shared them {she has a great blog, if you haven't visited, check it out!} The only thing that I discovered after making them a few times is that they don't call for any vanilla. They are super good without but I like to add it at least to the frosting. 

Glazed Donut Muffins: The Jury is still out

Next are these glazed donut muffins. My kids love donuts {in fact, if you ask 2 of them what their favorite food is they will say "donuts" without hesitation} so I thought they'd go wild about these. Being a muffin, they are certainly much denser than a donut. The glaze is good but it gets sticky after a while. So all in all, the taste was good but unfortunately this one won't make it into the recipe box. 

Chocolate chocolate white chocolate chip cookies: Hit

Now what can't the Pioneer Woman make? There are many things she makes that I love but this was a new discovery and it has made the recipe box! These Chocolate chocolate white chocolate chip cookies are yummy! {And if you think they might have chocolate in them, you're right!} ;)

Homemade Marinara Sauce: Hit

I wanted to make my own spaghetti sauce. I had some large canning jars that I knew would be perfect for the job. I did a lot of pinning and researching of those pins and came up with this super recipe. I doubled it and got four jars of sauce out of it. The sauce is so soooo good. The house smells amazing while you're making it. I added maybe a half a cup of red wine just to thin it a bit and it adds a lot of depth to the sauce. The great thing about this sauce is that you can freeze it.

Yummy Chicken: Hit {with variation}

I'm all about easy. At least when it comes to meals. So I was all over this chicken recipe.
The recipe calls for Mayo. Now if you know me at all you will know that I have a strong aversion to anything mayo, so instead I used sour cream. Everyone liked this dish. They didn't love it. But getting everyone to like something is still quite an accomplishment in this house and worthy of the recipe box! Another great thing about this recipe is that I almost always have these ingredients on hand. That makes this recipe a hit!

Homemade Taco Seasoning: Hit

This recipe came from a person on pinterest not a website, but it originally was from Rachel Ray, Im guessing from her magazine. This is definitely a hit. This is a super easy way to make your own taco seasoning. My only criticism is that my husband thinks its too garlicky. I love it! The great thing about it is you can customize it over time based on your family's tastes. I add 1T  per pound of hamburger and about 1/4 cup of water. 

            This is just full of flavor. Simply spices! 1 T chili powder, 1 T ground cumin, 1 T garlic powder, 1 T onion powder, 1/4–½ T crushed red pepper

Caramel Stuffed Pumpkin Cookies: Miss

These cookies looked amazing. So I made them with high expectations. I can't lie and say they weren't good, they were; but only when they first came out of the oven. As soon as they cooled the caramel became rock hard; as in break your teeth hard. I suppose you could heat them up again the microwave but I don't want to bother. If you are a coffee drinker they might be good dunked. 

Mmmmmm. All this food makes me want to cook! I hope you try of few of these. Let me know how they turn out for you!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Kitchen Remodel Stage 57

When you have a tight budget, costly renovations have to come in stages.

Three years ago we started our kitchen reno.
Today, we are one more step closer to being "done".

It may be a slight exaggeration to say that this is the 57th stage, but it feels a bit that way. In all reality here are the steps.

1) Redo flooring on the main level {this included the kitchen}
2) Add beadboard backsplash in kitchen and add shelving under counter.
3) New kitchen faucets
4) Begin upgrading kitchen appliances
5) Paint kitchen cabinets
6) Upgrade window hardware
7) Finish upgrading kitchen appliances

7.....57, it all feels the same! :)

So here we are at #7.

If you want to see the dramatic before, check out this post here.

This stage began with the malfunction of the dishwasher purchased during stage 4. Almost 3 years ago.
We bought a Fridgidaire. I bought it because it was pretty. Very lame! Its downfall began when my 4 year old fell and landed on the open door....a couple of times. The door then opened all the way to the floor and if you weren't careful with how you loaded it, it would leak. So when the error code came on and I called the company I knew this was the beginning of the end. {Despite the issues Fridgidaire has good customer service!} We were told it was either the vent unit or the electrical panel. When we called a repairman he said, "its almost never the electrical panel". In order to not be wasteful {and I have a really handy hubby} we decided to buy a new vent unit and with the help of Google, replace it ourselves. Ya, that didn't work. At this point we were out the price of the part. If we proceeded with this DW we would have to pay for a service call, diagnostic, parts and labor and that total could be at or near the cost of a new one. Because of the other issues we were having with the old one already we bit the bullet and bought a new one.

We had been waiting to purchase the new stove and above stove microwave. This was important because we have a small kitchen already and we need all the space we can get! We decided to get the rest of the appliances now because of the discount we could get.

We went with Samsung.

We purchased the Samsung refrigerator almost 3 years ago and if an appliance can change your life, this one has! If you have to buy in phases, start here. I am sure I still hear an angelic choir each time I open the doors!

The microwave we had before was in that corner where the mixer is now. Its funny how that small change led to the switching around of my cabinets. My baking items were to the left of the stove but the measuring cups and my mixer were to the right.

Now its feeling more functional and organized!


Now the big question you may be asking is, is it done? Well, I am very thankful for what I have and am happy with it for now, but the last phase of this project is the counter top. It is laminate and has been very durable but it is turning green in places where the sun has shone on it for the past 14 years. Who knows when that will happen. It certainly isn't high on the priority list.

Thanks for stopping by!

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