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

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Impressions On the Soul

I mentioned around Christmas that I would share my homemade gifts with you, and then completely forgot to! :) I started handstamping metal jewelry as a hobby and even started an Etsy store (which is still a mess since Christmas...I need to get it organized and filled with new inventory!).
This is a quote from The Hobbit and made for my sister Rachel.
398.2 is the dewy decimal code for fairy tales. This was made for my sister-in-law, Lydia, who is a librarian. 
This mother's necklace was made for my friend, Dee. Each penny has the name of a child and the year of the penny is the year they were born.
This leather bracelet cuff was my first attempt and is mine. It reminds me of The Beatles song, which was played on The Bee movie. Which Jacob and I watched over and over again at the hospital. It's near and dear to my heart. 

While my Etsy shop is still being organized I have been taking personalized orders as well. So shoot me a message through Etsy or e-mail me if interested.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Living Well Spending Less

"Ultimately, how we spend our money is a direct reflection of what is in our hearts." Thus begins the book Living Well Spending Less by Ruth Soukup.

As someone who went from a complete penny-pincher to a careless spendthrift, I nodded at that assessment. There is a hole in my heart after the loss of Jacob and there is now a hole crater in my budget. I got to the point that I didn't care. Money is just money, right?

This book brought me back from the brink of excess spending. There isn't anything new in the book. Everything within, from why we need to be good stewards of our money to how to save at the grocery store are all things I already knew. But reminders are a good thing and it pressed my old money ways a little stronger on my heart.

It's not just about money. It delves into how you spend your time, how much you value your friendships, how your goals can make or break you, how simplifying your home can simplify your life. How less really is more. More than a "how-to guide", this is Ruth's own story of her shopaholic tendencies and how she is breaking herself of her bad habits, and why. It brings a lot of religion into play, which may not encourage someone who is not a Christian, but the main principals of her story should help anyone who spends a little more than they like or someone who wishes they could save more than they have been.

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

Little Lace Box January Review

I've gone from subscribing to several subscription boxes to just two absolute favorites (yes, I even dropped PopSugar Must Have in exchange for Little Lace Box! and kept Ipsy as well).

Little Lace Box is a newer subscription and became wildly popular immediately. There is a wait list and boxes sell out quickly, so I'm glad I have a monthly subscription and don't have to worry about stalking their page when the boxes go on sale each month!You can join their wait list if you can't purchase a subscription now. It is $39.99 a month (same as PopSugar but so much more original and better!) but you can use code LLB10 for $10 off your first box of a monthly subscription.   

The theme for the January box is "The Dining Car" and was selected to commemorate the beginning of the fifth season of Downton Abbey. I was so excited about this month!
It arrived in a large brown box and everything was packaged well. Digging in was such fun.
I pulled out the regular red Little Lace Box and a tea pot!
*Siena Tea Collection - Tea for One ($29.99) This is such a lovely set, I can't wait to use it (it would make an excellent gift as well).
Unfortunately, the saucer in the bottom arrived broken. I'm not sure how, as the box was protected to the max. I contacted Little Lace Box and they responded immediately and will be sending a replacement. Excellent customer service.
*Royal Apothic Bubble Cream ($18.99) This is bath gel but lathers up so nicely. And the vintage packaging is amazing. Can you say pampering?!

*Beekman 1802 Authentic Hand-forged Britannia Fruit Spoon ($19.99) This was hand-forged by a master blacksmith with Britannia metal. This mold is an actual late 18th-century spoon mold that was found in the back of an abandoned shop on the grounds of the Beekman Mansion. 
While I didn't think I could get excited about a spoon the detail is just amazing. Imagine serving a bowl of fresh strawberries in the summer with this spoon! It will be something to pass down to the children as well. I actually love it!
*Lucy Bs Roll-on Perfume Oil ($16.99) This smells delicious and quite sophisticated! 

*Classic Edwardian Hair Jewelry Bobby Pin Set ($21) Who knew there was a Downton Abbey Collection?! Each silver fastner features white diamond Czech jewels that decorate Edwardian era filigree. It can't help but scream vintage!
*Capital Bee Raw Hand Cut Holly Honeycomb - Yum!!!

*How to Be a Lady ($16.99) Manners are timeless. I can't wait to dive into this book.

The information card alone is worth a read. I love the detailed descriptions of the box contents (on the other side). The sneak peek for the February Little Lace Box is "The Lovers, The Dreamers and Me". Based on the song by Paul Williams'. This will be a box for those of us who are still searching. And a box for those who've found it. It will include hidden gems for you AND your home!

I'm thinking this subscription box is the best of what I've ever received. I can't wait to see what the February box includes!

Disclaimer: Referral Links included in post. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

U.S. Cellular Helps to Stay on Track

This is the first new year that I've started with an iPhone 5s in my hand. While I don't think a smart phone is a fundamental element to happiness and success I do see benefits to having one, especially when setting goals and staying organized.

I may still use a paper planner but being able to pull out the phone at the grocery store to check a recipe for ingredients helps me meal plan. Showing the gas station clerk a text for savings at the gas pump helps my budget. The list could go on. Help while on the go isn't the only benefit to a smart phone.

What about an app that helps you lose weight or get in shape? Runtastic Six Pack can allow you to create plans from home that help you do just that.  Pair that with Up by Jawbone which is a fitness wristband that can track what you eat and the activity that you do throughout the day.

Need a best to-do list and task manager? Get the app any.do to help keep you organized. 

Saving money is usually a resolution for everyone in the new year. The app Check can help! The free app allows users to link bills, bank accounts and credit cards. The app will notify users  when a payment is coming up and even lets users set up automatic payments.

All this in the palm of your hand. No more searching through papers on your desk, forgetting to pay a bill, and so on.  Those looking for help sticking with some of the most common New Year’s resolutions can use U.S. Cellular’s 4G LTE network, with speeds of up to 10 times faster than 3G to download some of the most helpful apps onto their smartphones and tablets.

Disclaimer: This post sponsored by U.S. Cellular Blogger Brigade but all opinions are my own.   

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Brain Splat

*Last week we had such a nice little warm up (if 35 to 40 degrees can be considered warm, which in Iowa in January it can be!). We made the most of it and took daily walks and soaked in the sun. Maybe that can last us until Spring as winter has once again arrived, blanketing us in soft fluffy snow.
*I was amazed that Amy walked to and from downtown herself! She didn't seem to grow tired at all and loved the exercise. Bonus points for the deep sleep she had those nights! 

*In an unrelated note, I just had to buy this hat for Joe when he exclaimed, "I look like a butler!" That boy may have been watching too much Downton Abbey!
*Are there any other Downton Abbey fans here? What are you thinking so far of this season?

*I'm still keeping to my S.O.S challenge (Sick of Stuff). I donated a huge bag and giant box of items yesterday. I sent off a giant box to Swap, which I've had great success selling to (and buying from, oops!). I've taken some spring items into my aunt's consignment shop. I've sold some boutique clothing items on Facebook pages as well. I'd estimate that this month so far I have gotten rid of about 200 items, at least. Yay me! That's way more than the 5 items a day I've challenged myself to. So far so good! 

*I set my reading goal for Goodreads at 75 books for the year. How many books do you think you average a year? Excited to see if I reach my goal! I surpassed my goal last year of 50 books by more than double. So far, 22 days into the year, I am at 5 books. I love keeping track and having a "log" of all the books I read now.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Bonita Avenue

"Siem Sigerius is a beloved, brilliant professor of mathematics with a promising future in politics. His family—including a loving wife, two gorgeous, intelligent stepdaughters and a successful future son-in-law—and carefully appointed home in the bucolic countryside complete the portrait of a comfortable, morally upright household. But there are elements of Siem's past that threaten to upend the peace and stability that he has achieved, and when he stumbles upon a deception that’s painfully close to home, things begin to fall apart." Bonita Avenue by Peter Buwalda

It sounded like the perfect makings for a book. I doubt I can even say I "read" the book as I didn't even get 1/4 way in before quitting. Nothing in the book interested me. It was immediately confusing with the back and forth between present and past, person to person. I didn't know where I was or who I was with. 

The characters weren't likeable, interesting, or real. I didn't care about their story at all. I didn't want to read 500+ pages about them.

I wonder if the book lost something in the translation from Dutch to English because it seemed to lack any depth or interest.

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

January IPSY Bag

My January IPSY bag is here!The theme this month is "Fresh Start".
Each bag will contain 4-5 sample (sometime full size) items, based upon your beauty profile. So my bag contents wouldn't necessarily be your bag contents. My bag included: 
*Manna Sheer Glo Shimmer Lotion
*Pacifica Coconut Eye Shadow
*Nourish Renewing Eye Cream
*J.Cat Gel Eye Liner
*Real Techniques Fine Liner Brush 

The cute bag (blue on one side and white on the other with a cute orange zipper)...adorable! The Benefit Fake Up was a bonus item that I had traded 500 Ipsy points for.

I loved everything except the gel liner and liner brush as those are two things I don't use. I especially like the bag itself this month so that is a big bonus. 
Disclaimer: Referral links included in post.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

This Week

*We've been running lots of errands and getting caught up on a lot.

*Dentist appointments for Becca and Joe. No cavities!

*Warmer weather. Yay!

*A new fascination with handwriting. Within the past week he went from messy to near perfection! 

*Crockpot meals. Crockpot meals. Crockpot meals. So easy! Tonight it's:
Black Bean Taco Soup
1 lb lean ground beef (or ground turkey works too!)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 package mild taco seasoning mix
1 (16 oz) bag frozen corn
1 (16 oz) can black beans drained and rinsed (you could use kidney beans or pinto beans)
2 (14 oz) cans stewed tomatoes
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (4 oz) can diced green chilis
Throw in a crockpot and cook on low all day.

*Watching long forgotten home videos of my own childhood. I'll admit to bawling in the bathroom after seeing my Dad and Grandma on video. How I miss them. :(

*An hour of boy-free shopping this afternoon when Joe is at a playdate with his neighborhood friend.

*A husband who grabs a bottle of wine for his wife on his way home from work when he knows she is having a bad day. And tells her to take a glass of it with her into a hot bubble bath. A good book, a glass of wine, and a hot bubble bath = bliss.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


Nourished by Becky Johnson and Rachel Randolph is a book written by a mother/daughter team about "A search for health, happiness, and a full night's sleep." Sounds like a book that every mother can use!

I love and hated this book at the same time, which is a very rare occurrence for me. On one hand, the book is very well written but on the other hand I immediately bristled at several things the daughter, Rachel, writes about. 

For one, she has one small child. She laments quite often about how mothers have such limited "free time", yet her toddler goes to a mommy day out twice a week, for 5 hours at a time. That's 10 hours a week without a child. I know that doesn't sound like a lot to some but that is like....hmmm...10 hours more per week than I have childless! Maybe that's more my problem then hers but I can't imagine myself complaining at all about my free time if I had 10 hours child-free weekly! And to add insult to injury, when her toddler is at mommy day out she actually rents out a desk at an office space for her writing time. Why does this bother me? Because it speaks of money, something a lot of moms don't have the leisure of. I can't afford to pay for my child to be in a program for 10 hours a week, nor rent out desk space for my writing time (especially when my house would be empty if said children were elsewhere). We also can't afford to go away, alone, twice a year for a "marriage check-up weekend", much less find a willing person to watch three crazed children for 48 hours! That type of freedom started me off on the wrong foot, because aren't we talking about mothers who feel at the end of their rope already because of their lack of nourishment in life?

Then in the chapter of friendship Rachel is giving all types of tips on how to formulate friendships, yet she herself says she is bad at it and everything she mentions she has "written down on the calendar" or "planned for next week". Essentially, she hasn't tested and proven these theories, yet is writing them with an authoritative air.

I enjoyed the mother's (Becky's) writing more, as she has been in and through the trenches of raising four children. I just wish we would have heard more about how she did that. Did she put these principals into play during the child-rearing years or only now as a (mainly) empty nester? Because one or the other is a quite different story! 

Don't stone me yet though, as I may redeem myself in this review (and the book as well!). I did get a lot of helpful information from this book. Whether the authors themselves have perfected how to nourish yourself while raising a houseful of children or not, the wisdom inside does look good on paper and even sounds possible. As a matter of fact, this book motivated me to get up immediately and clean my refrigerator out, which is not a small task to get me to do. It put a fire beneath me to stop procrastinating on what needed to get done.

It gives helpful advice on home organization, cooking, time management, health, relationships, and even your spirit. All the while carving out just enough "sanity space" for nourishing yourself. That is a good thing!

In the end, I realize that this book can be for all stages of motherhood, as Becky as been through it and Rachel is in the beginning stages of it. I just wish it had been presented a bit differently to begin with.

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

Friday, January 9, 2015

A Thing of Beauty

"Former child star Fiona Hume deserted the movie biz a decade ago--right after she left rehab. She landed in Baltimore, bought a dilapidated old mansion downtown, and hatched dreams of restoring it into a masterpiece, complete with a studio for herself. She would disappear from public view and live an artist's life.

That was the plan.

Ten years later, Fiona's huge house is filled with junk purchased at thrift stores, haggled over at yard sales, or picked up from the side of the road." 

You knew I just had to pick this book up because of that description, didn't you?! Surprisingly, this book didn't turn out to be what I expected. It took me awhile to understand the book, and then at one point I really didn't like the story line because it wasn't what I expected, but the end redeemed it for me. 

Is it very believable? Not really, but it was a fun read. I'm happy that we were housebound due to the cold because I started and finished this book today. 

The beauty of the book is that it does make you stop and see things differently. See people differently. The three main characters are quite likeable and you feel a part of their world for the length of the book. A few dips in the storyline that I just never figured out (is Fiona really an escort?!) but I felt like the ending tied this little story up nicely. I look forward to picking up other books by Lisa Samson as I enjoy her writing style!  

Movie Time!

It's cold outside! What better way to get your mind off the weather than to head to the movies? Thanks to the U.S. Cellular Blogger Brigade you have the chance to win two tickets worth up to $10 each for any Fandango Movie Theater! Certificates will be e-mailed to you to be printed out and expire at the end of the month...so pick a good movie in January to watch! Enter below, winner will be chosen on Monday, January 12th.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Lazy Day

With windchills of 30 below zero today we will snuggle down inside and have a lazy day. School is already done for the morning so the rest of the day is free.

As I went to make lunch I realized it is way past time to go shopping. But I don't want to so we are snacking instead, which actually seems fitting for today. Boiled eggs with sea salt. Cups of tea (or milk for the littles). Ranch crackers (so yummy and easy! A stick of butter melted, a packet of ranch seasoning, and a bag of oyster crackers mixed together and baked at 325 degrees for about 10 minutes...stirring half way through). Brownies. 
I'll scrounge up some soup and biscuits for supper. Perfect for a cold day!

Notice the sweat pants in the photo above? It's also a pj day! No point in getting dressed when I can stay comfy cozy instead.

This is one of the benefits of being a stay at home homeschooling mama. Easy, lazy days like today. Though the kids may not agree, as it is actually a no school day for area schools due to the extreme cold. Homeschooling means you don't get a snow day! They will be happy in the summer when we get to break earlier than the rest of the kids though!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


A goal of mine in 2015 was to get back to regular blogging. I started a post and my computer ended up losing it half way through writing it. I intended to get back to it that evening but look here. It's the 6th of January and this is the first post of the year.


I think the issue is that bloggers tend to like to *show off* some of their life. The good days, the fun decorating, the yummy recipes, and so on. And as of late there just isn't much that you would want to see. My avoidance? Lack of enthusiasm? Lack of luster?

I'm not going to lie...this winter has been more tough than last winter without Jacob. The sparkle of life just isn't there right now for me. But you know what else? I know these peaks and valleys in the walk of grief are normal. So I'm hunkering down when I need to, ignoring the housework when I want to, taking things easier when I have to. 

We finally have had a week of real winter weather. I say finally because we had such a mild December (which was nice!) but it seems my soul was longing for the solitude of isolation once again. With piles of snow outside and arctic temperatures (windchill of possible 50 below zero tonight, anyone?) this week I've once again felt the peace of that white cocoon. I don't know what it is, but I think that when your world has stopped with that one person missing you like it when the world outside disappears a little. 

Back to my goal. I do hope to be more regular with my blogging, and not just with my reviews and such. I'm also getting a bit more organized. I sat down on New Year's Eve and got all my calendars out. Birthdays and appointments went into my wall calendars and those went up on the wall. 

I have my small planner to write my daily musings in. And this year I have a Day Planner (this lovely one that I received in a subscription box!) which is helping me get more done. It's quite helpful to sit down at the end of the day or the beginning of a new one and plan out what needs to get done and cross it off as it's done. A real sense of accomplishment!

I hope that you have a blessed New Year and that I see you back here often! :)  


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