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Thursday, April 30, 2009

You Don’t Need All That! (Soapnut Giveaway)


So my Frugal Friday contributions have to do with cleaning supplies. Often we fall prey to the popular misconception that we need to have a cleaner for each task. While some cleaners do work best in performing a specific task, you do not really need as many cleaners as you may think!

  • E-cloths really do work!
  • Less is best! Find a multi-purpose cleaner you are happy with it and use it for multiple purposes!
  • An organized space = easy to find items (frugal with your time).
  • An organized space = easy to see what you have so you do not spend money on what you do not need! (How did I end up with 3 bottles of Windex and a refill jug of it?)

vinegar

Read more at Downsizing: What’s in Your Cupboard?, Cleaning Out Cleaning Supplies and my Earth Day post, More Green = More Green!


FrugalFriday

Downsizing: What’s in Your Cleaning Cupboard?

Clean Laundry Room 002

In Cleaning Out my Cleaning Supplies, I mentioned that I had downsized. Here is a breakdown!

This is what is currently in my laundry cupboard:

  • Spray n Wash Stick (diaper bag) and Spray (I have only had two things ruined by stains. Both times it was mustard...this takes everything else out!!)
  • Nature Clean box of liquid soap. I mentioned it in More Green = More Green. Love this stuff. Only 1 tbsp does the load. I have a tablespoon right on top!
  • I also have a container of Zero left over from when John was a newborn and allergic to everything. I'm saving it for any future babies that may come along!
  • Nature Clean All Natural Bleach (I do my diapers once a month+/-)
  • A bottle of fabric softener and a couple packages of sheet fabric softener. I rarely use it as I find that it is an unnecessary additive in most cases but there are a few things that I like that extra little scent in!
  • I have a box of oxy-clean powder as well that I am finishing up. I will not replenish this though as I find I don't really need/use it.
  • I also have used a couple of old baby wipes containers to store things. One has soapnuts in it and the other has my mesh laundry bags for washing delicates.
  • This is what will be in my cleaning cupboard within the next few weeks:

  • Nature Clean Toilet Bowl Cleaner
  • Vinegar (lots of uses for this!!!)
  • Multi Purpose Cleaner
  • Cleaning E-Cloth (just use water)
  • Glass E-Cloth (just use water)
  • Orange Oil (we have some nice wood pieces that need this!)
  • Soapnuts - check out my post here to explore their uses and for an opportunity to win. I haven't yet used them for anything other than laundry but I plan to as there are tons of cleaning uses for them!
  • What’s in your cupboards? Do you have favorite cleaning or laundry product? I’d love to hear about it

    Wednesday, April 29, 2009

    mmm…Handmade Corn Tortillas

    tortillaPhoto by hummingrow 

    There is something terribly appealing about making your own food; knowing exactly what you're eating! My husband jumped on this bandwagon first and I (a little unwillingly at times) joined him!

    Mexican is the theme for the week at URS and here is my contribution:

    Handmade Corn Tortillas

    • 2 Cups Masa Harina (more as needed)
    • 1/4tsp table salt
    • 1 1/4 Warm Water
    1. In a medium bowl, combine the masa harina and salt with the water.
    2. Mix and knead with your hands until the dough is smooth and homogenous. It should be soft, not sticky (think play doh!) If needed, add more water or masa harina to adjust to the right texture.
    3. Cover and set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes to 2 hours.
    4. Cut two squares of plastic to fit the plates of a tortilla press or you can roll out your own!
    5. Set a large flat griddle on the stove straddling two burners. Turn one burner on medium low and one on medium high (you can use two frying pans if you don't have a large griddle).
    6. Pinch off a golf ball sized piece of dough and use the press to or roll out to make the tortilla approx 1/16 inch thick. If dough breaks it is too dry and if it sticks it is too wet.
    7. Cook on the low side of the griddle for 15 to 20 seconds until the tortilla loosens from the griddle then flip it to the hot side for another 20 seconds to brown in spots.
    8. Immediately wrap in a clean, dry cloth and let rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.
    9. The scent alone will make your mouth water! Top with your favorite toppings :)

    Notes:

    • I must give credit where credit is due – I haven’t actually made these *gasp*. My husband has many times. I did eat them though so I think that entitles me to use the recipe. LOL! Scott blogs here.
    • We use a tortilla press but you can roll it out - it's just a little slower and less consistent.
    • They keep well in the freezer for a month+/-. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and reheat before using.
    • They do taste much different than your store bought flour tortillas!

    URS

    Tuesday, April 28, 2009

    Rainy Day “Treats” (ideas welcome!)

    costumes 011

    Several years ago in November, a local grocery store had costumes on for $2 and $3. Not just cheap costumes but good quality fabric costumes. I didn’t have children at the time but I did have nephews. I bought a whole bunch of costumes for them to play with.

    costumes 018

    The other day my sister came to visit and dropped them off as her little ones are no longer quite so little! I tucked them into the closet. Now, our weather has been crazy; we’ve had a lot of rain lately and have been stuck indoors. Chloe and Jaiden ask over and over to go outside! I pulled the costumes out of the closet and voila – a wonderful new game to play! They loved it. it is amazing how even at 2 they love to play dress up. We also have a few home-made costumes and they love those too!

    costumes 004

    So what works for me now: “Dress Up” as a special rainy day treat. I think that I need to make sure I have some other “treats” up my sleeve as well.

    Does anyone have any great ideas for some rainy day activities? What do you do with toddlers when it’s raining out?



    Now this post isn’t on Halloween. My family doesn’t participate in Halloween though I guess you could argue that in a round about way we are supporting it by purchasing markdowns (costumes/candy) afterwards but please do not turn the comment area into a debate about the issue.

    Baskin Robbins Deal!

    Head to your local Baskin Robbins for a Sweet Deal!
    April 29th from 5pm to 10pm
    Thanks mom for the heads up!
    (click on the image to go to their site!)

    5 Minutes for Mom Giveaways

    mother5minformom

    Amazing giveaways happening over at 5 Minutes for Mom. April 22 until May 9th there are exciting new prizes. On second thought, don’t go over and enter because that way I will have a better chance at winning the AMAZING prizes like an HP Mini 1000, a digital camera, digital frame, designer purses or gift cards!!


    Monday, April 27, 2009

    TT: Thinking the Best!

    A Google search of the word 'Tune-Up' revealed the following definition:
    An Adjustment for Better Functioning
    A search for the definition of 'Adjustment' revealed the following:
    A Small Change, A Minor Correction, A Modification
    More on Tune-Up Tuesday here.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Photo by AYUMI

    “Finally, brethren,..if there be any praise, think on these things.”

    In the beginning of your relationship, you probably accumulated quite a list of positive attributes about your spouse; all those things that you loved about them that made you want to marry them. If you were like me, you thought about those wonderful qualities often (maybe even with that sappy, dreamy look in your eyes LOL). Then, once you got married and began living together, suddenly a whole new list started. Maybe you didn’t mean for this list to start – I certainly didn’t. But out of hurt feelings, unmet expectations or just plain selfishness, this list was created: the weaknesses, irritating traits and failings of your spouse. It's not long, but it is there.

    When we dwell on the first list – the positive one; we are thankful for our spouse and our appreciation for him increases. When we begin to think about aspects of the second list, our hearts begin to devalue our spouse and it’s a slippery slope from there. It can drain our joy and the love right out of our marriage.

    Love isn’t oblivious to anything, it is well aware that the negative qualities exist but it chooses to be gracious not to focus on them. Whether or not they deserve it, Love chooses to see the best and pray about the rest! (that rhymes!)

    Challenge: This week, make a list of your spouses good attributes. Aim for 10! Next Tuesday, I’ll be posting mine and you are welcome to post yours as well and link up!

    Verses: Philippians 4:8, 1 Corinthians 13:7


    And litte PS. I am very much in love with the awesome man God has given me, but there are moments when I become ungrateful...those are the moments I want to work on...


    Tune Up Tuesday Logo

    You can follow along here however I really recommend picking up a copy of The Love Dare for yourself. It contains so much more than what I am sharing here. You can purchase one by clicking the appropriate button on my right sidebar to go to my A-Store.

    Related posts: Loving My God, Loving My Man, Love is Patient, Love is Kind & Not Selfish, Thoughtfulness, Irritating or Irritable?
    ==========================================================

    Do you have a tune-up you are working on this week? Are you joining me in the Love Dare? How are you doing? Leave a comment to let us know or add a direct link to your blog post below to encourage and inspire others. Don't underestimate the power of accountability - it's a great motivator!


    Sunday, April 26, 2009

    Cleaning Out the Cleaning Supplies

    BC Posts in the Making 019

    Do your cleaning supply cupboards look like mine? A disastrous mishmash of half used cleaning supplies for every imaginable occasion? I hope not. My cleaning supplies are all stuffed and unorganized into cupboards around the house - some under the kitchen sink, the bathrooms, the upstairs hall closet, the laundry room and a shelf in the garage. Well this month's roundup was an overhaul on a cupboard and I decided to tackle my laundry room cupboards. (Eek!) I wanted to share with you the how-to’s of my project.

    BC Posts in the Making 018

    1. My Plan: in this season of life with littles, I wanted as many of my cleaning supplies as possible all in the laundry room cupboards away from little hands and mouths. I also want as few products as possible while still having the ability to clean properly!
    2. So I gathered up all the cleaning supplies in the house and brought them to the laundry room. The exceptions: dish soap, dishwasher liquid and jet dry all remain under the sink in the kitchen. Method flushable wipes are kept in the bathroom for quick cleanups when necessary.
    3. I then began to purge my cleaning stash. I have accumulated a lot of products, not all of which are necessary. I don't think that a special cleaner for each individual task though my cupboards sure tell another story! I really do enjoy cleaning supplies - I know, sort of weird. I like to try new things and pretty smelling things etc. Anyway, my point? A multi-purpose cleaner is just fine in many cases. I am going to ensure that I indulge my love of cleaning supplies only with multi-purpose cleaners as I need them!
    4. I downsized to a fraction of what was in there! What's in my Cupboard? I still have a few cleaning supplies in there that will be used up in the next week or so and then I'll be all set!
    5. I used an old baby wipes container to house my Soapnuts - check out my post here to explore their uses and for an opportunity to win. I haven't yet used them for anything other than laundry but I plan to because you can use them in a variety of household cleaning!!
    6. Once I had sorted out what I no longer used, I boxed the rest up for family members to take what they would use and properly disposed of the rest.
    7. I have a plastic stackable bin with drawers beside my dryer. I am going to use these for something. I was given about 10 of these (Hurray!) for free. I was thinking about a nicely labeled drawer for Repairs – a place to keep items that need to go out to be fixed (zippers, hems etc.) and one of the bigger drawers for a Donate drawer and another drawer for Socks Missing Mates…you get the point :)
    8. I then gave the cupboards a wipe and put things back into them in an orderly fashion.
    • With the laundry side, I found that it is easiest (and most natural for me) to open the left door so I put the Nature Clean soap that I use most frequently over there.
    • In the cleaning side, I got a caddy for the supplies that I need to carrying with me to clean in the house. I'll simply pack my caddy and go work on the areas I need to and return the caddy to the cupboard when I am finished

    Clean Laundry Room 001 Clean Laundry Room 003

    Related Posts: Downsizing: What's in Your Cupboard? and Cleaning Supplies Frugal Friday Post - You Don't Need All That!

    roundup

    SOAP NUTS = NATURAL CLEANING (+ giveaway)

    soapnuts

    Soapnuts are an economical, environmentally friendly and effective replacement to your laundry soap! I mentioned them in More Green = More Green in honor of earth day!

    I had never heard of soapnuts until I saw an ad on kijiji for them. It was in the baby section and advertised that they were perfect for cleaning cloth diapers. Skeptical, I ordered one of their trial bags as I am interested in earth friendly products only IF they perform. I was amazed and how well they cleaned – even with cold water!. A few weeks later, I ordered a large package.

    “Soapnuts are the dried fruit from the Ritha (sapindus mukorossi) tree. There are other types of trees that produce a poorer grade of soapnuts. The ones that Superior Soap Nuts import contain very high amounts of saponin. Saponin is the substance which gives the soapnuts their cleaning power.

    Many of these trees were once logged for income. Happily, Superior Soap Nuts’ supplier, among others, is harvesting the soapnuts which is a renewable resource. This is creating a sustainable income for Nepalese people in local areas.”

    There are many uses for soap nuts to clean many aspects of your home in addition to laundry. I haven’t tried them yet but plan to shortly! If the results are equivalent to what I experience in the laundry room, I will be thrilled!

    sally_soapnut_3

    Superior Soap Nuts has kindly offered to sponsor a giveaway in participation with the Springtime Giveaway Carnival at Heavenly Homemakers. One lucky reader will receive one of their 500g packages!

    Just a thought: the name Superior Soapnuts could come from the fact that they are located in Upsala, ON which means they are fairly close to Lake Superior or it could be based on the fact that their soapnuts are a superior quality.

    How to Enter:

    Entry #1: Visit Superior Soap Nuts and take a look at the page on how to use them. Come back and leave a comment with which way you think you would use them. While you’re there…spend a little time reading about this interesting alternative to laundry soap! PLEASE REMEMBER, that I need a way of contacting you.

    Entry #2: Blog about this contest and leave a link to your post in the comments.

    Entry #3: Subscribe via a reader or email. Leave a comment letting me know you have.

    So go ahead and do one or all of the above to enter! And don’t forget about the Apron Giveaway here!

    Wondering what a Beautiful Calling is and who am I? Read here to find out a little more!



    Thursday, April 23, 2009

    The Overdue Apron Giveaway

    I love aprons. I think that they symbolize my Beautiful Calling quite nicely. They help me to be a better wife, mother and keeper of my home. Brianna did a post a little ways back and talked about the importance of dressing for success. For me, this includes an apron as well. It helps me to focus and reminds me to be productive. It also makes me feel energetic and domestic and, believe it or not, pretty!

    aprons 002

    I am blessed to have an assortment of aprons and all of them are beautiful in some way. Some are pink and girly, others are crazy, wild and fun, some are sweet, I even have a flirty, skirty one in lime green and pink that my girlfriend, Carm, gave me not too long ago.

    How is all of this frugal? Well two reasons. The first is that an apron, above all else, serves a practical purpose. It helps to keep you clean which means less laundry which in turn saves you on soap, water and energy! See More Green = More Green $$ for more ideas. And the second reason that this post is in the Frugal Friday category? If any of you read my Ultimate Blog Party Post, you will recall I mentioned an apron giveaway. Well, it was postponed since a blogging friend had one happening at her place, but here is your chance to enter!

    While Ann, of Ann’s Gifts and “Sew” Much More, doesn’t have her website up as of yet, she does have a retail location so for anyone who is local. Her Apron Emporium is located at 505 Queensway West in Simcoe, ON and you can reach her at 519-410-1742. You can choose an apron for yourself or she makes fabulous children’s aprons as well. Above is one of the great ones that Chloe owns. Double sided, one side has bight vivid farm print and the other a solid color with pockets made with the farm print fabric. Below is a picture of the most recent apron she gave me. I was overcome and the picture doesn’t do it justice! It has all sorts of ‘patchwork pockets’ with Proverbs 31:13 and sorts of neat things. It is double-sided and has my name, my husbands and children’s names and all sorts of other embroidery on it. It is the most special apron I own!

    aprons 001

    How can you win a fabulous apron? You have 4 chances to enter!

    Entry # 1: Leave a comment in this post with something interesting about yourself. Just short and sweet! If you are posting anonymously, please leave a way to contact you!

    Entry #2: Blog about the giveaway, come back and leave a comment with the link to your giveaway post.

    Entry #3: Leave a comment sharing the name of a meme and the website who hosts it. I’m relatively new to the blogger community and would love to learn about the different ones out there!

    Entry #4: Subscribe via a reader or email. Leave a comment letting me know you did.

    So go ahead and do one, or all of the above for a chance to win. A winner will be chosen at random on May 1, 2009 @ 8:52pm+/-!

    FrugalFriday

    And if you haven’t already, be sure to enter the Soapnut Giveaway!

    mmm...Easy Baked Pasta

    Well I am still in search of the perfect baked pasta...but this is my pretty-close recipe based on a scalloped potato recipe of all things!

    SAUCE:
    • 3 Tbsp Butter
    • 1 tsp Salt
    • Pepper
    • 2 Cups Scalded Milk
    BAKED PASTA
    1. Melt butter in saucepan and slowly blend in flour, sale and pepper. Gradually add hot milk and stir constantly until it thickens.
    2. Melt in grated cheese if desired.
    3. Boil pasta until just before done, take out and put in oval dish and mix in the sauce. Sprinkle with a little bit of breadcrumbs and some Parmesan cheese.
    4. Bake for about 30 minutes. If necessary, put under the broiler for the last minute to crisp up the top.
    BONUS RECIPE:

    SCALLOPED POTATOES
    1. Wash and Peel 6-7 medium potatoes. Slice thinly. Spread 1/3 of the potatoes in a buttered dish (we actually use several individual dishes). Sprinkle with 1/2 a chopped medium onion.
    2. Same as step one above for the sauce. Pour 1/3 of the sauce over the potatoes
    3. Cover another layer with potatoes and remaining onions and 1/2 the remaining sauce.
    4. Place remaining potatoes on top and cover with remaining sauce. Make sure all exposed potatoes have sauce spread on them.
    5. Bake uncovered at 375 deg for 1 hour or until done and lightly browned on top.

    TIME-SAVING TIP:

    Make extra sauce so that you have have the potatoes one night and the pasta the next!

    This scalloped potato recipe is compliments of my Aunty Pat. She impressed me with it last summer when we went to visit her and was kind enough to share it. The sauce is so basic, versatile and produce great results every time!


    I'd welcome any suggestions or new recipes for baked pasta! It is something we love and I have not yet found the perfect recipe.

    Wednesday, April 22, 2009

    John and Baby Wooo-Chisss




    This is John and his cousin Lucas. They are about 5 months apart. Chloe lovingly refers to him as "Baby Wooo-Chiss". Aren't they handsome little men in their little Easter outfits?

    More Green = More Green $$

    green Photo by Ben

    40 Ways to go Greener at Home by Simple Mom appeared in my blogger reading list earlier this week. Though I didn’t have time to read her post then, I began to think about what our family does. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that we do have a substantial list! Most of our earth friendly practices were born out of a need for frugality or for the benefit of our family but they’re green none the less!

    1. Cloth Diapers: We switched to BumGenius 3.0 cloth diapers (a one size, all in one read more here). A bit of an investment but better for baby, more economical and better for the earth! We also use cloth trainers for my toddler. I only have 8 BG diapers so I have to do a load of wash every night. I make the most of that load by adding any other whites or lights that we have in with the diapers. Helps me keep up a bit on laundry too :) Swim diapers are also a really cool alternative to disposable swimmers...they're cute too!

    2. Cloth Wipes: Recently I began using cloth wipes too. Since I am already using the diapers, why not use the wipes so then I can just put the wipes inside the soiled diaper and toss the whole think in the diaper pail rather than trying to figure out where to put the disposable wipes while I finish the job.

    3. Baby Food: While I still buy some baby food, I generally try to make my own. Less packaging! Less Cost! Better for Baby!

    4. Toys without Batteries: Too many toys these days require batteries and “entertain” the child. While some of these are fine, I believe that children should learn to entertain themselves and use their imaginations. Toys with batteries are also noisy and drive my dh crazy. Battery-eating toys are also not great for the environment either!

    5. HE Washer: We have a high efficiency front loading washer which uses less water and requires less soap.

    6. Cold Water: Unless I am washing some heavily soiled items (diaper etc.), I try to wash on cold. My clothes come out just fine!

    7. Soaps: We currently use Ecos, Nature Clean and soap nuts for washing our clothes. The soap nuts are compostable, and the nature clean comes in a box, lined with a bag and it has a little spout on the front. I only need 1 tablespoon of soap for a load (even heavily soiled diapers!). Recycle the box and spout and all you’re left with is the bag as garbage. It says it does 129 loads but I get more out of it that that.

    8. Less Laundry: Clothes worn once aren’t always dirty (by adults anyway). My husband and I shower everyday (I know, not environmentally friendly or frugal but we feel it is an essential) but we reuse our towels for the week before washing them. If you’ve done a good job in your shower then you should be clean!

    9. Clothesline: Coming soon. We live in a new subdivision that had a by-law against clotheslines (imagine that!!) Last year they lifted it so this summer I’ll have a clothes line. Hurray!

    10. Avoid Chemicals: Not good for you, your family or the earth. Avoid them when you can. We use e-cloths here and have been very happy with the results. Our lawn isn’t perfect and I pull weeds constantly (a lot of work) but I don’t have to worry about my little ones eating dirt & chemicals because our lawn is just dirt! (Fish Mama talked about Chemicals here and when it comes to spiders – I’m all for chemicals!!)

    11. Composting: We started last summer. Not hard but we don’t do it in the winter because I don’t want to shovel all the snow to get out to it.

    12. Recycle: Recycle what you can but keep in mind that recycling still uses energy etc. to do so it isn’t totally earth friendly. It’s best to try use products with as little packaging as possible, regardless of if it can be recycled.

    13. Packaging: Avoid individually packed items or convenience foods when you are able. We all take advantage of this convenience from time to time but try to avoid it on a regular basis. Thermos and Innate make some great stainless steel cups! Take them with you everywhere you go to avoid buying packaged drinks.


    14. Energy Efficient Light Bulbs: This is my husband’s domain but I know we have them.

    15. Turn your Heat Down a few degrees and your a/c up a few degrees. Doing it gradually will help you adjust and you’ll save lots too!

    16. Plan Your Outings so that you can get all your errands done in as few trips as possible.

    17. BYOB: Bring your own bags to the store when shopping. Most stores here sell them for $0.95 but dh saw them on for $0.37/each at Fortino’s.

    18. Buy Second Hand: When we first had Chloe, I would have balked at this because we had the money, why buy used? Well, it makes better use of your money, there is nothing wrong with most used things (I have huge issues about having to be able to wash/disinfect things) and it is better for the environment. After all, if everyone bought new and discarded it when finished, our landfills would be overflowing and we would be creating a lot of pollution with excessive production.

    19. Cloth Napkins: We switched a couple years ago. Ours aren’t actually napkins; they are small cotton dish towels in very cool bright colors. We got them on sale and love them!

    20. No Paper Towel: Because we use the e-cloth for windows and we use cloth napkins, I was thinking we should eliminate paper towel all together. At first my husband balked (after all where would he de-grease his bacon?!) We started using cotton flour sacks and though we still have some paper towel in our stock-pile, we haven’t used it and we don’t miss it!

    So it is only 20 things I came up with but these are what Works for Me. After reading the article by Simple Mom, I could add to the list, but I won’t. You’ll have to go HERE for more ideas! Isn't it amazing how going green can save you green $$?

    Happy Earth Day!

    Monday, April 20, 2009

    TUT: Are You Irritating or Irritable?

    A google search of the word 'Tune-Up' revealed the following definition:
    An Adjustment for Better Functioning
    A search for the definition of 'Adjustment' revealed the following:
    A Small Change, A Minor Correction, A Modification
    More on Tune-Up Tuesday here.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Flower HeartPhoto by ms formica dinette

    I don’t like to think of myself as being irritating, but I know that I am at times. Please don’t be offended, but I bet you can be too! We know what buttons to push and sometimes we choose to push them. Sometimes, whether it is out of ignorance or selfishness, we are rude. It can be in our speech, tone or actions that we act in a way that embarrasses our spouse, irritates him or both.

    Perhaps there are things about your spouse that you find irritating. I know do. Many times being irritable or snappy has nothing to do with the actual issue and more to do with stress and/or selfishness. But in love, minor things shouldn’t result in major reactions.

    The Love Dare says, “A loving wife is not overly sensitive or cranky but exercises emotional self-control. She chooses to be a flower among the thorns and respond pleasantly to prickly situations.” I love that saying. I think I may put it on an index card and magnet it to my microwave to remind me. Where does emotional self-control come from? Yourself? I hope not. When I depend on myself for that self-control I am afraid that I fail miserably. It can only come from the Lord. When that feeling starts to creep up – you know what I am talking about – before things escalate, send up a quick prayer for that emotional self-control!

    As I was writing this, Colossians 3:23 sprung to mind. Not that I believe that if we are going to be irritable that we should do it heartily, but rather that when we are irritable to others, we are being irritable to the Lord as well. Now that is a sobering thought isn’t it??!?!

    This Weeks Challenges: Ask (without being on the defensive) your spouse what 3 things they find irritating about you and see what you can do about them. Choose to respond in loving ways this week regardless of your mood or the circumstances.

    Verses: Proverbs 27:14, Proverbs 25:24, Psalm 112:5, Luke 6:31, Ecclesiastes 10:12, Proverbs 16:32, Colossians 3:12-14, Matthew 12:34, Acts 24:16

    Tune Up Tuesday Logo

    You can follow along here however I really recommend picking up a copy of The Love Dare for yourself. It contains so much more than what I am sharing here. You can purchase one by clicking the appropriate button on my right sidebar to go to my A-Store.

    Related posts: Loving My God, Loving My Man, Love is Patient, Love is Kind & Not Selfish, Thoughtfulness
    ==========================================================

    Do you have a tune-up you are working on this week? Are you joining me in the Love Dare? How are you doing? Leave a comment to let us know or add a direct link to your blog post below to encourage and inspire others. Don't underestimate the power of accountability - it's a great motivator!


    How to Have a Great Week!


    I mentioned that I was in a slump. The main reason? Loss of focus! I spent some much needed time in prayer, and had a wonderful visit with my mother last week. Unfortunately, my little John has been up every hour or so the past two nights and therefore I could really use some sleep but aside from that, I am completely geared up to have a great week!

    What is a Great Week?

    A great week is not necessarily checking off everything on a long to do list but, rather, a great week is made up of days where I live each day with eternity's values in view.

    I'm trying something out this week. I put a calendar page on my nightstand with a pen and each evening I am going to put an X through the days that I feel were good ones regardless of what tasks I actually completed!

    Definition of a Good Day:

    Spending time in the Word. With littles, it may or may not be the time for deep devotions with the Lord. Some days yes, some days no. The Lord can use any time we spend in His Word to speak to us so a verse, a chapter or an entire book all count!

    Spending time in Prayer. How I would love to do as the song talks about and spend a sweet hour in prayer. I have so many things to pray about, so many blessings to be thankful for and so many people to pray for that I could easily spend a solid hour praying. Alas, that time is hard to come by these days. But you know if you are awake for 15 hours and each hour you spend 4 minutes praying then you will have spend that sweet hour in prayer! Just try it while while you wash up the dishes, or fold the laundry. Those precious minutes that you pray while doing other things are probably the moments that you are accomplishing the most in your day!

    Blessing My Family. How? By balancing the care of my home with time spent with them! Of course there is housework to be done and the fruits of that will, without a doubt, bless our families but we also need to bless them with our time and attention. My sweet little Chloe is 2 and wouldn't notice if I washed the floor once a week or once a month and spot cleaned as needed. She will certainly notice the number of books I sit and read with her! Mommy's Idea Book talks about balance here and no doubt there are many more great blog posts out there on balance because it is something that we all still struggle with!

    Starting Afresh When Needed. A Path Made Straight had this post about Taking Back the Day and I think about it so often! I am thankful that His mercies are new every morning and that He is a God of second chances!

    Now I hope that I get the tasks on my to-do list done this week but regardless of what tasks I get done, if at the end of the week more days than not are crossed off with an X (indicating a good day), then, I think that I will do a little happy dance in celebration of a great week! And maybe if you're lucky, I'll post a picture of that happy dance next week!

    Menu Plan Monday April 20th



    This week I did it backwards. Friday came and with that, grocery shopping. I hadn't really looked to see what we needed and I hadn't planned a menu. We went anyway. This weekend Chloe had to have her cereal with chocolate milk because we were out of white milk. Thankfully, the meals came together with what I purchased but this week was a real example f why I need to PLAN before I go! Duh!! Today I have to go out now because we need milk.

    Breakfasts:

    • Eggs & bacon (daddy made more bacon!), honey comb or corn pops.
    • Mommy eats toast and OJ every morning.

    Snacks:

    • Chloe hasn't been eating her meals well so her snacking will be limited and small to help her eat her meals better.
    • We have apples, oranges and bananas as well as green grapes and baby cucumbers (mmm, love baby cucumbers!)
    • And of course staples like gherkin pickles, cheese and goldfish crackers and raisins. The girls go crazy for those little pickles!

    Lunches:

    • Leftovers
      In cleaning out our overstuffed freezer - I found some Pickerel (it's a fish for those who don't know). Scott isn't crazy about fish but I really enjoy it. We were supposed to eat it last week ad didn't! (again!)
    • We also have quite a bit of home-made corned beef so we'll have that with potatoes one day.
      When all else fails, we always have a good stock of Kraft Dinner. It's the one prepackaged food that Scott has OK'd :) The girls love pasta so this is always a hit!

    Dinners:

    • Monday: Corned Beef Hash made with potatoes and corn. We have errands to run today!
    • Tuesday: BBQ Chicken Breasts, Asparagus and Rice. Bake Cupcake Order. Hope to get the front lawn raked and seeded today.
    • Wednesday: Baked Whole Chicken with Roasted Potatoes and Fried Butter Zucchini. Today we deliver the Cupcake order and visit the Library
    • Thursday: BBQ Pork Chops with apple sauce, Cauliflower and tinfoil potatoes & onions. Today we're baking treats for daddy. I'll post some great recipes later with pictures of our success.
    • Friday and the Weekend: Scott's office is involved in a big move and since he is the I.T. guy, he's very involved in getting everyone's computer back up and running quickly. He will be involved in that starting Friday and the poor man will get VERY limited sleep. Because of that, I plan to do some extra baking as treats for him and that when he is able to come home for a bit of a rest, I will take our little ones and head over to my parents or grandparents so he an sleep better. We will eat there or out. It's a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of weekend with no menu planned!

    Join in on Menu-Plan Monday. Do a post on your blog and link to here. Don't have a blog? Just leave a comment!

    Friday, April 17, 2009

    You Don't want to miss...A BOOK GIVEAWAY



    Calling all book-lovers!
    Head over to 5 Minutes for Books for a chance to win a book every day from now until the end of the month! They also have a grand prize - a copy of ALL the books they are giving away. How awesome is that? It's easy to enter so head over now!
    (Open to USA addresses only)

    Yes, He's Married!


    Introducing Mr. & Mrs. Keith Melvin! They were planning to get married (I mentioned that here) and they did :) Hurray! Unfortunately, between financial considerations and little ones, a trip to Austrailia to attend the wedding was out of the question but we wish them all the best!!

    Thursday, April 16, 2009

    Library Days and Book Lists


    Library Tips:

    • As soon as you get home, write the due date of your books on your wall calendar or in your planner.
    • Plan a library day a few days prior to your due date and write it in as well.
    • Keep all of your library books in one place.
    • Have a library bag and ensure that all books are accounted for and in the bag the night before your trip to the library to be frugal with your time.
    • Take advantage of all the library services including books, books on tapes or CD's, videos and DVD's as well as any special classes and story times that are available!

    We spend much of our day in the bathroom where we work on our learning poster and that is where we keep all our library books in a basket. I keep them there so that we don't end up misplacing one when we return them. On occasion we will remove one and go up to the library to read it however that usually results in a forgotten book (like last week!) which spells out late fees :)

    We actually returned our library books last week and are due to go again next Wednesday April 22nd. Our library visit coincides with the day we go out on cupcake delivery. We do have quite a few books at home so let me share with you what we are reading.

    Our Readers:

    • John (8 months)
    • Chloe (2 years)
    • Jaiden (2 years)
    • Mommy (undisclosed - haha - I'm 30!)
    So from our home library, these are our current favorites:

    Board Books
    That's Not My Tractor by Fiona Watt
    That's Not My Pony by Fiona Watt
    These are adorable touchy-feely books by Usborne. Great quality and, though simple, there are many opportunities to teach colors and textures. Chloe loves these books, the one some of her favorites. She can "read" them to me by feeling the pictures, she knows what the page says.

    Early Readers
    Chloe loves this book. I think it may be her favorite book. If not #1 then he #2 favorite! She wanted to read it every time we went potty for the entire 2-3 weeks that our learning poster theme was about dinosaurs. I was so glad to move one :) It really is a great book with a great teaching opportunity. It is about a dinosaur who goes around scaring people, thinking he is funny. He loses his friends and his voice. In the end, he says sorry, saves his friends and everyone lives happily ever after. It is rated a level three reader.
    This is the Bear by Sarah Hayes and Helen Craig
    This is Chloe's other favorite book. It is a very easy read, though not rated. It is a cute, short rhyming pocket-sized book about a bear who ends up at the garbage dump by accident.
    The Little Book of Farmyard Tales by Stephen Cartwright & Heather Amery
    A sweet collection of short stories that they say was written with the help of a language expert for young children learning to read. Chloe likes the stories because they all involve a little girl and a little boy and their adventures on the farm.


    Mommy's Corner
    These are books that I am currently reading and almost done. I will add a brief review once I have finished the books so be sure to come back!

    Life Management for Busy Women by Elizabeth George
    One of my favorite authors!
    Passionate Housewives Desperate for God by Jennie Chancey and Stacey McDonald
    The title turned me off originally as I immediately associated it with whatever that show was that was on TV about housewives. After hearing so many women who I respect talking about it, I purchased it. I am almost through it and it has been an amazing read.
    The Love Dare by Stephen Kendrick
    Secrets of a Happy Heart - Titus 2 Series Book 1 by Debi Pryde
    My sister and I are currently working through this series together on Monday mornings.

    For more great reading ideas, head over to The Happy Housewife!

    Do you have a library tip to share? As new library-goers, we welcome new ideas! Leave a comment!

    (Please note: Book links take you to my Amazon.com A-store so you can read their reviews on them there. Any Candian friend who wish to purchase them should visit my Canadian Bookstore on the right sidebar!)

    Health Questions Answered LOL


    Q: I've heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life; is this true?
    A: Your heart is only good for so many beats, and that's it... Don't waste them on exercise. Everything wears out eventually.. Speeding up your heart will not make you live longer; that's like saying you can extend the life of your car by driving it faster. Want to live longer? Take a nap.

    Q: Should I cut down on meat and eat more fruits and vegetables?
    A: You must grasp logistical efficiencies. What does a cow eat? Hay and corn. And what are these? Vegetables. So a steak is nothing more than an efficient mechanism of delivering vegetables to your system. Need grain? Eat chicken. Beef is also a good source of field grass (green leafy vegetable).

    Q:How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?
    A: Well, if you have a body and you have fat, your ratio is one to one. If you have two bodies your ratio is two to one, etc.

    Q:Aren't fried foods bad for you?
    A: YOU'RE NOT LISTENING!!! .... Foods are fried these days in vegetable oil. In fact, they're permeated in it. How could getting more vegetables be bad for you?

    Q: Will sit-ups help prevent me from getting a little soft around the middle?
    A: Definitely not! When you exercise a muscle, it gets bigger. You should only be doing sit-ups if you want a bigger stomach.

    Q: Is chocolate bad for me?
    A: Are you crazy? HELLO Cocoa beans! Another vegetable!!! It's the best feel-good food around!

    Q: Is swimming good for your figure?
    A: If swimming is good for your figure, explain whales to me.

    Q: Is getting in shape important for my lifestyle?
    A: Hey! 'Round' is a shape!

    Well, I hope this has cleared up any misconceptions you may have had about food and diets.

    This information was sent to me by my mother last week. Use at your own risk!

    Wednesday, April 15, 2009

    mmm...Delicious Cookies


    Delicious Cookies
    (thanks mom!)

    Heat Oven to 375 deg.

    Mix Together:
    • 1 Cup butter or margarine
    • 1 Cup brown Sugar (You can use a little less!)
    • 1 Cup white Sugar (You can use a little less here too)
    • 2 Eggs
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 1 tsp almond extract (optional)
    Add:

    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/4 tsp cloves
    • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1 3/4 cups flour
    • 2 cups rolled oats
    • 1 cup coconut (optional)
    • 1 cup nuts (optional)
    • 1 cup chocolate chips
    • 1 cup cereal (rice crispies, muslix or whatever - optional)*
    • 1/2 cup bran or wheat germ (optional)
    • *I usually add 2 extra cups of oats rather than the cereal. I like oats*
    Drop onto cookie sheet and bake at 375 deg for approx 12 min (though in my oven they are done in exactly 8 minutes).

    I love this recipe simply because it is such a basic recipe and I can throw in a little of this and a little of that. I sort of clean out my pantry leftovers into it. Sometimes I add raisins or sunflower seeds too....and they are soooo yummy! (and you can make them healthy!)
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