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

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Spark Joy

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook (links to both over there-------------------->) you have seen that after finishing up Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up I started on her second book Spark Joy. Her books can be summed up with her quote, “Discarding is not the point; what matters is keeping those things that bring you joy. If you discard everything until you have nothing left but an empty house, I don’t think you’ll be happy living there. Our goal in tidying should be to create a living environment filled with the things we love.”

The goal is to go through your whole house, in very specific steps (KonMari), and only keep the things that "spark joy" for you. Which essentially means that you will be discarding a lot, but only so your house can end up sparking joy for you.

Spark Joy shows what the first book spelled out, but in much more detail and with illustrations. So while the second book is not a must have if you have read the first it does go to the next step and helpful for those who are not quite clear what Kondo was explaining in words when pictures are more helpful.

The book itself is a bit humorous, though not intended to be that way. I laughed several times when Kondo explained how socks don't like to be balled up and prefer to rest. Or how we need to welcome our house each day when we arrive home. How about wishing each of our items goodbye as we throw them away. I have to remind myself that she is from a different culture which does things differently. Otherwise it just seemed way too "new age" for me.

Starting with clothes you go through each and every piece you own (she recommends you only doing your own items - and letting others do theirs). If you decide you love that piece and it sparks joy, keep it. If not, get rid of it. Once you decide what to keep you fold it up in a certain way which really does save a whole lot of space in your drawers and looks more organized as well.

Then you move on to books, misc., and lastly memorabilia and photos. 

It seriously works. After one week of off and on work my bedroom is finally finished! This was my view this afternoon as I took a 5 second break towards the end of the task:         
This is my shirt drawer:
And my pants drawer (I think I can purge a couple more pairs!):
My bedroom looks amazing! The closet is completely organized, my dresser drawers have been thinned out and make it easy for putting clothing away now. My tween even peeked into the drawers and said "this looks fun!" and went straight to her room and started weeding through her clothing. I got rid of almost 1/2 my wardrobe (and donated it to the clothes closet at the church) and realized that most of what I had did not spark joy and was rarely, if ever, worn. What a waste of money and space that was. I think this will help me in my future purchases as well, really asking myself if something "sparks joy".

Now it's time for me to weed through my books. This will be a hard challenge!

This book was given to me by Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Life of Fred

As a homeschooling mama I know that what works for one child may not work for another. But I've found a math curriculum that both kids have been thoroughly enjoying. 

Life of Fred books is a ten book series starting with Kindergarten and working up to fourth grade material. There are also other series that go up through the high school level. Instead of being a text book, this is a fun story about Fred, a 5 year old prodigy math genius. Throughout the hilarious stories, Fred encounters situations that require solving math problems. These stories are entertaining and so weird that the kids love listening to them! Even Becca will sit down for the younger books to listen to the stories. 

The books make learning fun. For example, in the first book, APPLES, which is geared towards Kindergarten, you will learn telling time, days of the week, colors of the rainbow, and more.

While I would not use these solely as a math curriculum (and I don't think they are intended as one) we do read a chapter a day after we finish our own math text books/work sheets. Each book lasts us about a month (usually about 18 chapters per book). At the end of each chapter are some questions that reiterate what was just read about.

I see that they now have Life of Fred readers that I think Joe would love. I may have to include those in my next order!  

I've found Educents to have the best price on these books. You can earn "Educent Bucks" for future purchases as well and if you sign up through this link you will get $10 off your first order of $25 or more (on anything on their site, not just these books)! 

Referral links included in post.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Homemade Bath Bombs

I love LUSH bath bombs. Unfortunately fortunately for my wallet the closest one is about 3 hours away. I have wanted to try my hand at making my own.

It was actually extremely easy. Mine don't look as pretty yet (I haven't used special molds, just the bottom of cupcake liners) but they sure smell and work fantastic. I told you I was having fun with my essential oils!

1 c. baking soda
1/2 c. citrus acid
2 T. epsom salts
1 t. water
3 T. coconut oil
several drops of essential oils of your choice 
 Food coloring or natural dye (optional)

Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl. Mix the wet in a separate bowl. Add wet to dry and incorporate. Mixture should feel like wet sand, if you need more moisture add a few more drops of water until it feels right. Pack down tightly into molds (I used muffin liners set in a muffin pan). Let sit overnight or for about 24 hours. Take out of molds and store somewhere dry (I store mine in a glass jar). Place on under running bath water and enjoy.

I used a relaxing blend of essential oils and the smell is divine. The possibilities are endless. I plan to mix and match with colors, scents, and even add dried flowers this summer. I was able to make 9 bath bombs for around $4, where the LUSH bombs are about $5 each. You can find the oil as well as the citrus acid on Amazon: 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Scent Booster

There is a reason that products such as laundry scent boosters exist. I admit that I love the scent of dryer sheets, Downy, and all those other yummy smelling products. When I get a strong whiff of fabric softener on someone's clothes I enjoy it just as much as an expensive perfume. I try not to use these types of products as I know that they are artificial scents and not healthy to be soaking our clothing in. 

In the summer it's easy enough for me to avoid these as the scent of fresh sunshine on my clothing from hanging it on the clothesline is the best smell ever. In the winter it's a little more difficult. Our laundry can smell a bit blah with no scent at all.

Which is why I am having so much fun with essential oils! Adding scent, which is natural, is a fun way to liven up the senses. I read about using this Insect Shield from Plant Therapy

as a scent booster in the laundry. While the ingredients in it are great for mixing up your own bug spray (which I plan to do this summer!) they are also similar to Young Living Oil Purification blend which is amazing for freshening up the air, carpets, clothing, etc. It smells like Nels Fatha soap to me. Adding just a couple drops to a washer load of clothing (along with your usual detergent) leaves everything with a delectable scent.  

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

My children are of the age that they see what they can get away with. They do something they want to do and then lie about it in order not to get in trouble. Typical child behavior. As their mom, I'm pretty good at telling when they lie and most of the time they are good about fessing up right then because they realize that it is the lie they will get in trouble for, not the act that prefaced the lie. God is much the same - He knows when we are lying. He will easily forgive us for doing a wrong act but if we are lying to ourselves or others about it THAT is what will get us into trouble.

I HATE LIES. Lies are of the devil. 
Kindness and honestly are the two most important qualities of any person, wouldn't you agree? I'm so thankful that my husband has those qualities and that my children are learning them. 

It's not your wealth, your power, or your beauty that is impressive. It is your character. You can't buy that. :)

Monday, February 15, 2016


I started and finished Wild by Cheryl Strayed over the weekend.
I am so torn on how to review this book. I was bawling through the first chapter, detailing the death of Strayed's mother. It takes some good writing to make me cry so I knew she had that down pat. The book itself kept my attention all weekend. I loved reading about the PCT and her journey; even if she was ill-prepared and quite stupid to tackle this endeavor with no hiking experience under her belt. Maybe that is WHY I like this book - getting lost in the wilderness in order to find yourself appeals to me greatly. As a matter of fact, after reading this book and others about hiking I truly have it on my bucket list to at least do a several day hike somewhere.

 On the other hand, Strayed is a very self-absorbed woman. She basically used her mother's passing as an excuse to sleep around and ruin her marriage (which was a perfectly love filled one if we are to believe her writing) and become a junkie. Only a junkie would write about heroin as though it was just a recreational drug that she could "stop whenever she wanted to". Taking opium in some guy's truck in a parking lot? Drinking mixed drinks with complete strangers? Sounds smart. While grief can do many things to you, I did not view Strayed in a good light at all throughout the book. She is so self-serving and makes herself seem like such a queen bee. Almost every single person she meets in the book either tells her how hot she is, how pretty she is, wants to sleep with her, wants to be her.

 So while I enjoyed the book, I do not like the author. I can't imagine why so many reviews call her an inspiration. Because despite her complete stupidity she is still alive?

It has sparked a wish list of longer hikes for my family to-do list for the summer. Because my husband is starting a new job next month (more about that later), he won't have any vacation days for quite awhile, so we will be planning day-cations for our vacation this year. Hiking will be involved in many of them! 

Friday, February 12, 2016

Essential Oils

Essential Oils have been the rage for several years now. While the "hippies" have been using them for decades, the rise in popularity really started when the multi-level marketing companies Young Living and doTerra oils were founded. All of a sudden my Facebook feed was filled with sales pitches and advertisements but guess what...those oils are expensive!! Multi-level marketing always is - because the company is selling the oils and paying the marketers as well.

You can get pure essential oils at a reasonable price. I googled and researched and finally settled upon Plant Therapy oils, which are high quality oils at a great price (this is not a paid endorsement for them!). 
I'm learning my way with oils and will share along the way with ways that I'm finding them useful. The oil I am most familiar with is Tea Tree oil. It's a great disinfectant so can be used in most household cleaners. It's also great for teenage skin or anyone who has troublesome blemishes. My new favorite recipe is Natural Toilet Bowl cleaner. 
All you need is:
1/2 c. baking soda
1/4 c. distilled white vinegar
10 drops of Tea Tree Oil

I pour the baking soda in the toilet bowl, add the drops of the oil, then pour the vinegar in. I shut the lid as it fizzes and cleans and about 10 minutes later go back to scrub and swish the bowl and flush. It leaves a sparkly bowl which is disinfected. 

If you have a lot of lime build up in your bowl you will need to deeply scrub the first time around, or even use a pumice stone. But after getting it sparkling the above recipe will take care of your toilet bowl if you use it on a weekly basis! 

Hope Unfolding

I get it, Momma. I totally get it. Every day you wake up and try your very best. You love, give, and pour out your life for the ones who call you Momma. But no matter how much you offer, there are still days you feel as though you come up short. You worry, Am I loving these babies enough? Is this ever going to get easier? Why does it seem like I am the only one who cannot balance it all?

 Sometimes, we just need hope (and maybe a long uninterrupted nap). We need someone to help tune our hearts to the voice of the Father and to remind us that He has not forgotten about us. Hope Unfolding by Becky Thompson

This book is a breath of fresh air when it comes to mothering books in the publishing world. Never once did I feel chastised or told how to parent. As a matter of fact, Thompson makes it clear, over and over again, that YOU are doing the best you can and that the best is always good enough. 

Thompson doesn't tell you how to change your life. Or let you know that if you do things her way it will be the right way. She meets you where you are and basically reiterates what you already know - being a momma is hard but leaning on God makes this whole parenting thing a bit more clear and so totally worth it. 

This book was like chatting with a friend over a cup of tea about marriage, motherhood, messes, and more. It left me feeling uplifted and with hope that this life is the one that was mapped out for me by God. 

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

Saturday, February 6, 2016

40 Days of Decrease

40 Days of Decrease by Alicia Britt Chole "invites readers to walk with Jesus through the holy decrease of less and loss that led Him cross-ward and beyond. Each day offers a meaningful consideration of Jesus’ journey through reading and reflection and then issues a challenging daily fast. Instead of social media, chocolate, and designer coffee, 40 Days of Decrease calls communities to a Lenten fasting of apathy, injustice, resentment, hypocrisy, and more for the love of God."

Like the advent season leading up to Christmas, Lent is the season leading up to Easter. A quick Google search explains that 
"Lent is a season of forty days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. Lent comes from the Anglo Saxon word lencten, which means "spring." The forty days represents the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of Satan and preparing to begin his ministry.
Lent is a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is a time of self-examination and reflection. In the early church, Lent was a time to prepare new converts for baptism. Today, Christians focus on their relationship with God, often choosing to give up something or to volunteer and give of themselves for others."

While we often sacrifice something we enjoy for those 40 days in solidarity with Jesus sacrifice for us (it's often sweets, caffeine, etc.) I love the idea that Chole brings to us in this book on giving up more - and focusing on different fasts each day. Topics such as regrets, sorrow, stinginess (for example, day 13 which deals with stinginess asks us to seek an opportunity to be irrationally lavish toward someone who cannot possibly return the favor). 

Each day "features a devotional based upon Jesus' life, guidance for reflection, suggested daily fasts, an inspiring quote for prayerful meditation, an optional and somewhat academic sidebar chronicling the historical development, practices, and images of Lent, and a suggested Scripture reading with journaling space."

While the season of Lent is often only celebrated by Catholics and Protestants, I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to take some special time each day starting on Ash Wednesday (this coming Wednesday!) until Easter to grow closer to God and learn to be more like Him as we decrease our wishes and lean upon His.

This book was given to me by BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016


Related Posts with Thumbnails