*Thrifty Living * Homeschooling * Natural Living * Creating * Baking * Learning * Exploring * Subscription Boxes * Childhood Cancer* Death of a Child*

Friday, February 21, 2014

Notes from a Blue Bike

Notes from a Blue Bike by Tsh Oxenreider was one I wanted to read immediately upon hearing about it. I'm not a reader of her blog but the subtitle The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World drew me in.

I savored the first half of this book. I connected with her writing as well as the message. Slow down. Live the life you want to live. I doled out the book in portions, allowing myself to read one section a day. It was a treat to me.

I became disenchanted when I hit the "Work" section. Tsh and her husband are able to live off her blog income, therefore they both work from home and are allowed luxuries that the typical American working family is not. It actually became depressing reading that section as living life intentionally only seemed possible by living that type of life. Even when she acknowledged that not everyone was self-employed she only used atypical examples of other familiy situations. On page 88 she went so far as to write "Don't waste your years punching the time clocks"; if only it were that easy!

The education section bothered me as well. I'm not sure if I am just being extra judge-mental after the section on "Work", but I am prefacing this with the fact that I agree with Tsh in the fact that homeschooling doesn't work for every family, so I don't feel I am judging her for putting her children back into the school system.

I think that it's the fact that her words contradicted each other. For example, the reason that self-employment is so great for them is that it gives their family the sense to fly by the seat of their pants, be closer as a family, and do what is best for their family. Yet on page 112 she writes about how tiring it is to homeschool all day and then her and her husband have to work on the websites all evening (yet, if both she and her husband work from home why could they not stagger their work schedules?). She goes on to say, "I could stop blogging altogether, but one of us would have to find another job to put bread on the table, and we honestly loved our work." It makes it sound as though she is choosing work over family, which in the previous chapter of work she stated that self-employment meant you didn't have to do that.

Towards the end of the education section she writes, "One of my reasons for homeschooling was so I'd get to learn. But there's nothing that says my kids need to be homeschooled in order for their mom to learn new things." This section had so much about Tsh's writing, alone time, what she wants that it contradicts much of the book about what is good for the family.

I loved the beginning of the book; I'd recommend it for that aspect alone. It will be added to my bookshelf (and it's rare that I keep a book to read again!)  but I'll skip over the work and education sections when re-reading it next time.

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by BookLook in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Sweet Memories

I love candles, but the majority of mine are floral scent. When I heard that Bath & Body Works had a line called the "Sweet Shop" I had to try some out!
Two which sounded the best to me were Frosted Cupcake and Cinnamon Sugared Doughnut. 
When they arrived yesterday I opened up the Cinnamon Sugared Doughnut and was transported back in time. They say that smells trigger more memories than anything else and I think they are right.

Immediately I was back at the amusement park, AdventureLand, eating the cinnamon sugared doughnuts that you can watch being made, then buy in a small wax bag fresh from the oven. They are delicious. I remember eating them with my dad when we were little but most recently I remember eating them with Jacob when we went to AdventureLand the past few summers with his Dance Marathon group.

Closing my eyes and taking a big whiff of the candle had me standing in the sun, doling out the doughnuts to the three small sets of hands reaching for some. It took me to a place where Jacob was still with us, and if just for a moment, I was back there at AdventureLand eating donuts with him. It may sound silly, but it was a fleeting memory that was so real.

Of course, I went online to buy more of these sugar cinnamon donut candles and they are sold out. I'll check in our local store next time I'm around it but I will treasure the one candle I do have, which brings back a happy memory so strongly!
And quilts have always been another happy thing for me. I found this one at Goodwill yesterday. Joe immediately claimed it as his own (my kids also have a thing for blankets and quilts). I'm not sure if it is handmade or store bought (the stitches are a bit uneven so I'm thinking possibly handmade) but for $3.75 it doesn't matter - it's a beautiful quilt and makes us happy!

February Citrus Lane Box Review

Joe looks forward to his Citrus Lane box every single month. For days before it arrives he asks when it will come and watches out the window to see if the mailman is bringing his box up the walk.

This box is for a 5 year old boy. Boxes range from birth to age five and the age and gender dictate what will be inside. 
*Zoo storage Bin from Skip Hop ($15) We received an e-mail early this month with several animal options to chose from and Joe chose the owl (we are obsessed with owls in this house!). It is such a cute storage bin and will be put to good use.

*Tie-Up Shoe from Plan Toys ($8) Perfect for practicing how to tie shoes!

*Skip through the Seasons from Barefoot Books ($6.99)

*Green Apple Age Defy Hand Cream from Juice Beauty ($10) Have I mentioned before how much I love Juice Beauty products? This is going in my purse!
Citrus Lane recently raised their boxes to $29 a month but if you chose a longer subscription you can get it for as little as $19 a month. If you are a new subscriber, you can get 50% off your first box with this link. Cancel if you aren't happy with it. It would make a great gift for a little one in your life!

Disclaimer: Referral links included in this post.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

February IPSY Glam Bag Review

Was I the last person to get my Ipsy Glam bag this month?! It seems like I got the tracking link forever ago and everyone around me received theirs way before I did. But, it's here finally!

This month's theme is "The Look of Love". Each month there are around 15 variations of products and based on the survey you took when you signed up you will end up receiving 5 products best suited to you (some months they hit the mark, other months I wonder what they were thinking!).
*Pop Beauty in Peony Pink ($15)

*Tini Beauty Shadow Tint in Ambrosia ($18) I thought this was lip gloss at first, then once I realized it was eye shadow I thought I would hate it. I tried it today and actually love it! Easy to apply, looks great, and the color is perfect!

*City Color Be Matte Blush in Fresh Melon ($2.99)
*Zoya nail polish in Dot ($9). Such a pretty color for spring!

*IPKN New York BB Brightening & Wrinkle Care ($3?)

This wasn't my favorite bag ever but was totally worth the cost. IPSY is $10 a month. Each month you will receive a make-up bag and 5 full-size and trial size products. As you can see, the worth of products this month was close to $50! There is a wait list once you sign up but most people are being accepted within a month or two of signing up!

Disclaimer: Referral links included in post.

Monday, February 17, 2014


*"Maybe it will be Jacob who leads your family to Heaven; he will be praying for you all your days." a priest told me as I sat in his confessional as my son lay on the couch, dying.

'a little child will lead them' Isaiah 11:6

There is no doubt in my mind that I have become a better person since Jacob's death. I feel him around me. I've felt God's presence  more this year than I have my whole life. 

*"You will see things with new eyes, everything will be more beautiful." Our Hospice nurse said, who went through a similar experience years ago.

Life has become more beautiful, more precious. I see the good with new eyes, and the bad more clearly.

*"You'll find out who your friends are." I heard from so many people who had also gone through difficult trials in their life.

We felt so much love and support at Jacob's wake and funeral. My friendships deepened  as I was surrounded by support. One online friend drove 5 hours from Missouri and one flew in from New York to stand by us during Jacob's wake. God brings the right people into our lives just when we need them.

*"Children are a blessing from the Lord."

There is no doubt about this. Not only was Jacob one of the biggest blessings of our life, but Amy's arrival seemed to be timed just perfectly, to keep our arms full as one child departed. As my husband said "I gave Heaven one angel and Heaven gave me another." Our other three children have been blessings to us during this difficult time.

I was able to watch Jacob live his entire life. He did more in his eight years than many do in 80. I've had countless people tell me how much he has touched their lives, how he has changed them for the better.

Blessings still abound. 

The View

from my kitchen window.


All Things Hidden

I'm beginning to wonder if all Christian Romance books follow the same script when writing. In All Things Hidden by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse we find:

*Love at first sight. The girl always finds the guy's looks dashing and the man is always instantly attracted to the girl.

*Immediately the two people can't stop thinking about one another. Their thoughts are constantly on the other person. Lo and behold one thinks the other despises them and the other thinks the same thing.

*One has a "secret" that could end the whole relationship

*God and the Bible are thrown in there so willy-nilly that it doesn't flow at all. It seems almost as though someone said "stick God on page 53 and a Bible verse on page 81 and someone preaching on page 156" and that it was splattered on those pages. The preaching/Biblical aspect didn't flow together nicely at all.

I want a Christian romance book that is different. This one was so run of the mill that I had to put it down half way through. I hate to give it a bad review, especially considering how I'm not a fan on Christian romance to begin with, but I didn't find anything new or interesting with this book at all.

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by Bethany House Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

Berenstain Bears Keep the Faith

I didn't realize that Stan and Jan Berenstain's son, Mike Berenstain, continues to write The Berenstain Bear series. Nor did I realize that the Living Lights Berenstain Bear books have a Christian series.

We were excited to review Keep the Faith and immediately sat down to read it together.

The ages on the back are 4-8 years old but I think it goes it a little deep for such a young age. Joe, age 5, seemed confused with the idea of the possibility that God doesn't exist. It brought up a good discussion topic but he didn't quite "get" the point of the book.

However, Becca at age 10, said she really enjoyed the book and was able to discuss what we learned. 

I wouldn't call this a "feel good story for bedtime" because I think it will raise questions that the kids will want to discuss afterwards but I do think it's a book that children would enjoy reading and talking about with their parents. 
Disclaimer: This book was given to us by BookLook in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

My Project

I found this old ladder at a garage sale years ago, for just $1. I've tossed around several ideas of what to do with it and ended up using it as a trellis on the front porch last year for vines of morning glories to climb. Today I figured it was time to switch up the living room so put some of our quilts on display for now. Who knows what I'll use it for next - I'm thinking it may look cool painted and hung up sideways to be used as a shelf.

Saturday, February 15, 2014


My reading list this week:

*Humans of New York - this was a fun, quick coffee table book. I loved it and wish I could meet some of these people, their stories are so interesting! Even the kids loved looking through it. I've been a fan of their Facebook page for quite some time and knew I would love the book.

*Happier At Home - I'm just starting this and like it so far. Who doesn't want to be happier?

*All Things Hidden - On my list to review. Hoping it turns out to be good, but we all know how much I like Christian romance.

*I Like Giving - Another book on my to-review list. This one sounds awesome...showing us how blessed we are when we give to others. Looking forward to this one!

Friday, February 14, 2014

When Necessary...

In the past three years my relationship with God has grown by leaps and bounds.

Looking back at my early blog posts I realize that it was either my immaturity, or immature faith, but I was a self-righteous person. MY opinions were the right ones. No wonder the Christian faith often gets a bad rap. I cringe reading through some of my previous posts.

It's not that my opinions have changed that much, per se, but rather that I realize I don't need to preach my opinions to others. I am not to judge or dictate how others are to live. I heard a quote recently that went something like "If you met yourself, you probably wouldn't like the person." It gave me pause, but it is so true. I've known people before that I just couldn't get along with and the fact is that their bad traits were some of my bad traits and I didn't like them because of it.

I find now that the closer I am to God, the less I have to talk of Him. I hope that He shines from my actions and my life.  I hope that He uses me as His instrument to help, give hope to, encourage others. None of that involves preaching or judging.  
I'm not anywhere close to where I want to be yet, spiritually, but I'm learning and growing. And that's good enough for me. 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Claiming Mariah

I don't want to be unfair with this review as I'm not a big fan of Christian Romance to begin with, so let me preface this review with the fact that if you are a fan of Christian Romance you will enjoy Claiming Mariah by Pam Hillman.

It is what all traditional romance books are. Therein lies the problem. I keep hoping for a Christian Romance book to be different. But alas, you'll find:

*Love at first sight. Which means, once again, it's the outside that attracts and not what is within.

*A silly girl who misses all her chances to communicate. Which makes molehills into mountains.

*The good guys win and the bad guys lose in the end.

I keep hoping that Christian romance can change the stereotypes of romance. Make it more real life, less fantasy. More Christian.

If I was a romance book reader I would have been thrilled with this book, so take my review with a grain of salt. The story itself was interesting and I read this book within 24 hours of starting it so it is a quick and interesting read. Just not my cup of tea.

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by Tyndale Publishing in exchange for my honest review.


Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Sinners' Garden

After finishing The Sinners' Garden by William Sirls I decided to sleep on how I would review this book, as I couldn't decide if I liked it or not! I know, I know, usually by the end of the book you know whether it was a good one or not but I am quite conflicted on how I feel.

I almost put it down within the first few pages because I thought the writing style would annoy me. On page two alone he used the word 'little' three times to describe something. Thankfully, the writing style evolved from there. The storyline kept me interested but I feel there were several loose ends that were never tied up fully - a few things just never "clicked" together. Other plots seemed just thrown in there.

Regardless, the point of the book is a good one and I did want to finish the book quickly to see how it would end!

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by BookSneeze in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

This Week

*Joe has been having fun going to storytime at the library that my mom is now director at. It's something he now looks forward to each week.

*After I pick him up from storytime we go to the Goodwill near there. Today I found a large Yankee Candle jar of "Merry Christmas", which is one of my favorite scents. Priced at only $1 and nearly new...but the wick was no where to be found. I figured I may be able to rescue it, and thought $1 to try was worth it. After melting it in a bath of hot water I was able to locate the wick, place it again, and now have a nearly new candle for $1. No wonder I never could pay full price for something that I regularly find at garage sales for $2 and under.

*I found veggie/meat trays at Super Target, usually priced at $14.99 on mark-down to $3.75! I bought the last two...guess what we have been snacking on this week? :)

*I can't decide if I want to continue to grow out my hair or cut several inches off it. This is the longest it has been in years. Maybe I'll grow it long enough to donate it to Locks of Love. Has anyone done this? How do you go about donating it?

*I've been digging deep into drawers and closets in order to organize. I worked on the filing cabinet yesterday and can't believe all the useless forms and papers I've saved. Half of this was able to be shredded and thrown out! My filing cabinet was able to breathe a sigh of relief after that.

*I've sold a bunch of sets of Joe's clothing from last summer online last week. Facebook clothing groups are the new Ebay - and no fees to pay!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Praying for Your Husband from Head to Toe

Praying for Your Husband from Head to Toe by Sharon Jaynes turned out to be the type of book that I was hoping it would be. From her definition of helpmeet (not what most feminists rail against, but rather a "role of great honor; a portrait of great strength") to what praying for our husbands does ("not of getting our husbands to do what we want when we want it but rather to love him and pray for him. As we pray, God aligns our desires with His desires, our thinking with His thinking, and our heart with His heart").

Basically, this will change us to help us to learn to pray for our husband's best interests. This is a 30-day prayer guide, each day focuses on several aspects which he may encounter throughout his day.

I'll admit, the first few days I had a hard time working through the chapters. I didn't feel as though the prayers were fitting or corresponding to our life. I'm now about 1/4 through the prayer guide and finding myself dwelling on some of the prayers.

In a time when we are so busy raising children, running a household, and dealing with everyday issues I think it is important to take this time out each day to pray for our husbands, who have their own struggles each day. This would be an excellent book for any married woman!

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest opinion.


Related Posts with Thumbnails