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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Homemade Christmas

This year we are decorating our house with handmade items and enjoying the holiday spirit with homemade memories. I've become extremely tired (okay, fed up) with the commercialization materialization of Christmas. It never used to be like this...we are going back to what Christmas used to be about - the birth of Jesus, our Savior, and a time for family.

This past weekend we went searching in my Grandma's (now my younger brother's) woods.

We found pine cones which we heated in a warm oven to open. Today we painted and put glitter on them to make ornaments for the tree.

We found small pine branches for an upcoming craft.

We found grapes vines which we made into a wreath which still needs decorating.

We found a perfect stick for an idea which has been swirling around in my mind for quite some time. You see, for years I've never had the perfect spot for hanging our stockings. No open staircase, no fireplace mantel. So I decided to improvise and create a place to hang stockings.

I found a stick with little knots and branches. I had Ben spray paint it a metallic silver color. I then took two pieces of ribbon and glued loops on both ends and added red buttons for looks. We then hung the ribbon from the ceiling and slipped the branch into the ribbon. The stockings fit nicely on the little branches, though I tied a couple onto the stick with metallic string so they wouldn't slip off. I then wound some garland around the stick. It's pretty much completed, though one stocking is missing as I can't find Ben's anywhere. I'm sure it will turn up sooner or later!

What have you been working on recently?

Monday, November 28, 2011


Last weekend breakfast was made by the kids.

Pumpkin spice muffins which are oh so easy and delicious to boot. Becca made these by using a boxed spice cake mix and adding in a can of pumpkin (we always add one egg as good measure since I can't remember if the inital recipe called for one or not!). They are that easy and everyone here loves them...a great way to get pumpkin into the diet.

Jacob placed all the muffin cups into the muffin pan.

Joe helped pour the milk.

What an easy and family filled breakfast it was!

Saturday, November 26, 2011


Today we scavenged through my brother's woods to find natural beauty for upcoming crafts.

Today we put both Christmas trees up.

Today we made popcorn and cranberry garlands for the small tree upstairs.

Today we drank hot cocoa and tea.

Today we spent time as a family and got into the holiday spirit.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Bookworm Deal

If your kids love to read as much as mine you may be interested in this great deal to stock your home library shelves. ShopTasteofHome is offering this 10 hardcover book bundle for $19.99 (down from $33.99!). Add code LST94 and you will also get a free Celebrations book, 30% off, and free shipping!
That means you will get it all for $13.99! Even better, go through your Shop at Home account to get 7% cash back. If you haven't signed up for Shop at Home yet, go through this link to sign up and get $5 for doing so, plus the 7% cash back on this deal. (Disclaimer, I also get $5 if you sign up with that link.)

I did order this bundle as $1.40 per book is a great deal! These would also make great donations for Toys for Tots, to your local Children's Hospital, or as gifts to any child in your life.

Thanks to Hip2Save.com where this deal was found.

Quick Frugal Tip

Plum District is offering a $50 gift certificate to Ecomom for only $25 (they sell all natural, organic, earth friendly products). Better yet, you can use coupon code enjoy10 to get another $10 off, making this certificate only $15! This is an excellent deal as I saw several things that I would never spend $50 on but would gladly spend $15 on. If you aren't already a member of Plum District, go through this link to get $5 in your account for signing up!
Limited quantity available. Free shipping on all orders over $50. Limit 1 voucher use per order. May not be combined with other offers. Please wait 48 hours to redeem your offer. May not be applied to taxes & shipping. Limit 1 per person and 1 as a gift. Food, diapers, diaper accessories & gift certificates cannot be redeemed with this voucher. Some products excluded. Expires 05/25/12.

Thanks to Hip2Save.com where this deal was seen.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

God's Blessings

There is so much to be thankful for this year.

I'm thankful that I have three healthy children. I'm thankful for the medical advances which helped my little boy be healthy again.

I'm thankful for my husband of 10 years who does things God's way, instead of the world's way.

I'm thankful for all the family, friends, and complete strangers who loved us and supported us through the most difficult time of our life. Your love and prayers held us up this past year and made us see the good in everyone.

I'm thankful that even in the darkest times God shines His light and proves that we are never alone.

I'm thankful to have a roof over our heads, enough food to eat, and everything that we could ever possibly need.

I'm thankful to realize early in life that love is what makes a family rich.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Smells of the Holidays

It's starting to smell like the holidays here at our house.
(A coupon fairy left a $1 off coupon on the shelf near this. What a refreshing tea!)

(A 50 cent garage sale find. Love the spicy scent!)

(15 cent to $2 garage sale finds. Our whole house smells yummy with these!)

What holiday scents have you been enjoying?

Not Me! Monday: A Dark Colorful Surprise

I did not recently hear about a fun activity to do for the kids.

I did not fill the bath tub with bubbles and throw a few glow sticks in ( you can get a package of 15 glow sticks for $1 at Michael's).

I did not usher them into the bathroom and tell them to close their eyes while I shut off the lights. They did not open their eyes to have this site before them:

They did not shout with glee and race to see who could get in first.

I did not figure that it was $1 well spent. Nope, not me!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Special Delivery

A few weeks ago I ran across an excellent deal on Lands' End Canvas Jeans. I think after discounts and free shipping it was $12.50 for a $49 pair of jeans. Anyway, I was in desperate need of jeans so snatched up a pair. Yesterday I wore them for the first time and love the fit!

Imagine my surprise when I received an envelope in the mail yesterday in which the address was hand addressed. The return address was Land's End Canvas. I opened it up to find a Thank You card.

A hand written thank you note, to be exact. To thank me for my purchase.
This is amazing customer service. In a day in age where corporations are so big and busy, it is beyond astonishing when you get such great customer care. I can only count on one hand the companies which have treated me as a person and not just a customer. Lands' End Canvas now is added to that list.

Friday, November 18, 2011

When Crayons on the Wall are Okay

I've been searching for pictures or artwork to hang in the kid's bedroom but it's been an impossible search since there are both boys and a girl in the room. Everything is either too girly or too macho. I then remembered a craft that I had seen months ago on Facebook and decided to try it out.

Just pick up a canvas and glue crayons to the top. You can group them together in color families but I liked the random look.

Lean it up on something (I used the inside of the oven door) and cover the floor with newspaper. Run a heat gun (I've heard a blow dryer on high works well too) back and forth letting the crayons melt and drip.
You can let them drip just slightly or let them run down the canvas. I decided to let the sides drip more than the middle.

Hang it up and you now have a work of art!

The kids love it and it fits nicely in their room. I plan to add more artwork to the same wall until it looks like an art gallery wall. :)

Box of Fun

I don't know if you are tired of all the deals I've been posting (please tell me if you are!) but I figure that since we are getting closer to gift giving I would post some good deals when I ran across them.

Plum District is offering up a three month subscription to Kiwi Crate for $30. You can also use code fabulous or pdx10 to get 10% off.

I have no experience with these Kiwi Boxes but they look great for a homeschooling family. Each crate includes 2-3 projects ranging from art, science, crafts, and more. Each month the projects relate to a different theme. If you don't already have a Plum District account, go through this link to get $5 when you sign up (disclaimer: I also receive $5 with your sign up).

It says for ages 3-6 so I'm thinking this will be a fun surprise in the mail each month for the kids during the long winter days ahead.

Thanks to Hip2Save.com where this deal was seen first

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Quick Thrifty Tip

I've mentioned my love of steel cut oatmeal before and just have to share a good deal I found on it.

Vitacost.com is offering $10 off an order if you go through my referral link. After clicking through my link create your account. You should then receive a message saying "Thank you for creating your account. Your $10 will be e-mailed to you shortly. Click here to begin shopping." Click there and begin your shopping (be sure to check your e-mail before buying in order to get your $10 code). It seems flat shipping is $4.99. I bought 4 packages of Bob's Red Mill Steel Cut Oats. This same bag sells for about $3.25 at our grocery store. For 4 bags, plus shipping, I paid just $5.51 after the $10 code.

There are several other Bob's Red Mill items for even cheaper...you could get wheat bran, flax seed cereal, whole wheat flour, or much more! Or search the site for whatever you may need...this is a free $10 to spend!
(Disclaimer, going through this link will also net me $10 to use on their site. You can also sign up for a referral link and let all your friends know about this offer! First seen on Hip2Save.com)

Swimmingly Good

For years I've been wanting to cut down our red meat consumption. Personally, I'm not a fan of the conditions in which our meat is raised and the antibiotics and hormones which are used. Since I can't afford organic grassfed beef at this time I usually halve the beef I use in most recipes and make many meatless meals.

Chicken is an old standby (I know...I also have issues with how chicken is raised but one thing at a time!) but I've been wanting to consume more fish for the longest time. The problem? Besides fish sticks, tuna, and salmon patties I had no idea how to make and prepare fish. That was making me steer clear of the fillets in the store.

I recently became brave and tried a few recipes - and we like them! A favorite we found is the Blackened Fish from the book Miserly Meals by Jonni McCoy. It's an easy and quick recipe - I always have those spices in the cupboard and can keep a bag of fillets in the freezer so I can throw together this meal quickly.

Blackened Fish

1 T. paprika

1 tsp. onion powder

3/4 tsp. cayenne powder

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. ground thyme

1/2 tsp. ground oregano

1/4 tsp. cumin

water or milk

3 T. butter

2 lbs. fish fillets

Combine all of the spices onto a plate or pie pan. In another pie pan or shallow dish pour some water or milk for dipping the fish.

Melt the butter over high heat in a heavy metal or cast-iron skillet. Dip the fish into the milk or water, then dip it on both sides in the spices. Cook the fillets for 2-3 minutes on each side. They will look burnt, but they'll taste great. The high heat is turning the spices into a crust and sealing the moisture in the fish.

Be sure to open the windows or turn on the vent...this makes a lot of smoke!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

This Week

This week we are learning about reptiles for Science and making turtles and lizards out of modeling clay.

This week we are on day 3 of potty training for Joe (he's started before but this is it!) and we've had two accident free days! Yay! For the past 8 years I've had at least one child in diapers so I can't wait to be a diaper free family!

This week we have been drinking lots of tea.

Hot Apple Cider and Spring Cherry from Republic of Tea are the favorites but we've also been enjoying chai and peppermint. Sleepytime tea is another good one! :)

This week we are continuing our decluttering and we managed to fill a box full of books from the bookshelves for donation. Books are the hardest things to part with and we managed to do a pretty good job. Now, if only we could get the kids to do the same with their stuffed animals!

This week I looked at the calendar and couldn't believe that it was the middle of November. It's crazy how time flies!

This week I hope you take some time to savor a few of the little things in life.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Hand Sewn Love

From the beginning of quilted blankets I think it's been impossible not to feel the love as you snuggle beneath one. Just knowing that someone painstakingly pieced together a blanket which now keeps you warm and cozy makes you feel warm and cozy on the inside as well as the out.

My Grandma was a wonderful quilter. Using pieces of fabric from her worn out blouses, old sheets, and other scraps she pieced together masterpieces. They were extra special because they were pieces from throughout her life. I don't have a quilt that she made but each of my own children have a baby blanket that she made for them and I hope they stay treasured pieces as they get passed down in the family someday.

During Jacob's illness he received several blankets and quilts and he (and we) treasure them all. They kept him warm when the treatments made him skinny and cold, they kept him comforted when he lugged them to the hospital for a stay, they now keep him reminded of all the love and support he had. He has put his Toy Story comforter away and only uses the blankets and quilts that were given to him and made with love. He seems to always have one nearby...snuggling on the couch, having a picnic outside, building a tent over the furniture, or burrowing under one when going to bed. He feels the love in them and responds by loving those blankets and quilts.

I think we will all be able to stay warm this winter just with the warmth of love that made our handmade quilts so special!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Not Me! Monday

On Saturday it was not I who decided upon waking up that it was the day to rip out the office carpet. I did not move everything out of the office room before my husband awoke only to have him come downstairs and ask what was going on. I did not stifle a giggle and tell him I decided to move out...only to have him look at me and demand to know what was really going on. I would never do that to my husband. Not me!

We did not proceed to pull the carpet and pad out, rip the tack strips out, pull up nails and staples, and clean the floor only to then head out 45 minutes away to buy a rug for the middle of the room and trim. It was not an all day project and we did not finally finish at 10pm after everything was moved back into the room.

I am not loving the no carpeting downstairs now! :)

While at Target after Halloween I did not run across these...

I had not heard how good they were and did not decide that at 50% off I may as well throw a bag in my cart. Oh my goodness...I did not find a new love! Over the next few days I did not hide them from my children who also did not find them to be delicious. I am not one bit sad that I can not find them anywhere else. If you are a pumpkin pie lover...do not try these!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Quick Thrifty Tip

For those of you who need gifts for Christmas, you may want to click over to Bloomingdales and search for Melissa and Doug. They have several toys on sale right now and with code FANDF you get 20% off and FREESHIP11 will get you free shipping!

The food set pictured above is just $8.80 before discounts! There are several other sets that are even cheaper. I can attest to the quality of these wooden toys and think they would make fabulous gifts for any little boy or girl. My children have several Melissa and Doug toys which they love and play with all the time.

Plus, if you have a ShopAtHome account you can go through them to get an additional 6% back on your purchase! That makes for some amazingly cheap high quality toys! If you don't have a ShopAtHome account I highly recommend you sign up. It's free and easy to do so. Every time you shop online, check their site first to see if the store you are shopping at is offering any cash back rewards. Many stores offer 1% to 30% of your purchase if you go through ShopAtHome. When your account reaches $20 or more they send you a check! I recently signed up and through my regular purchases online, which I would have made anyway, I've earned almost $20 already! This could come in handy especially during the holiday season when many purchases are made online...you could get a nice size check in the mail! If you do not already have an account, by signing up through this link you will get $5 put in your account to begin with (disclaimer: I also earn $5 if you sign up through this link). I think it's a great thing for anyone who shops online as most stores I've bought from offer cash back through the site.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Goodness

I was getting ready to prepare a batch of peanut butter candy when I opened the peanut butter and saw that it was happy to be a part of this recipe. :)
Peanut Butter Candy is a favored treat in this house.

Peanut Butter Candy

1 1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup milk

Place in sauce pan and heat over medium high heat until it comes to a rolling boil. Boil for three minutes.

Add jar of marshmallow creme and 1 cup peanut butter. Stir well and pour into 8x8" greased dish (my small dish was already in use so I used a pie pan, which worked perfectly fine but if you are making this for something special you'll want to use a square dish for even pieces). Cool until firm and cut into squares. I often put mine in the fridge or even freezer to speed up the cooling process.

It has the consistency of soft fudge and would be good for those holiday goodie trays!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Warm Fuzzies

It feels like winter outside...
may as well continue the trend indoors.

Pumpkin pie candle lit...

chili in the crockpot...

hot cocoa for the kids and hot apple cider tea for mama.

I really don't mind the first snowfall of the season.

Not at all.


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