There was a small beach near where we held revival last week, and I took these pictures while we were there.
Nothing extraordinary, but they were pretty, so I thought I'd share!
As usual, a week of nice weather while we were away ensured that the weeds grew twice as fast as the profitable plants in the garden. Today my husband helped me till the garden rows so it looked more like a garden again, instead of a jungle of weeds. After that, I went through and weeded between the plants themselves. It looks good again!
Here are some of my carrots (ignore that weed I missed in front):
And some of my lettuce:
And some onions:
And finally, a bird's-eye view (somewhat) of the whole garden:
The far end hasn't been planted yet. It's reserved for corn, which won't be planted until next month at the earliest.
I'm glad I got to weed today because I saw the strangest metallic green beetle on my tomato and pepper plants. I'm going to see if I can figure out what they are and how to get rid of them. I'm sure they do some kind of damage, although they haven't just yet!
I also need to purchase a few tomato cages for my tomato plants. They're at the point where they need to be caged so they don't fall all over the ground when the tomatoes come on.
Both the tomato and pepper plants are blossoming, so that's good!
If the weather holds out, I might plant cucumbers tomorrow. I'm planting a whole row of those since my husband (and both kids) loves dill pickles. We probably go through a jar a month. I prefer bread and butter pickles, so I might also make some of the freezer pickles I made last year. They were very good (and easy) and reminded me of the bread and butter style.
I'm fortunate that my garden is doing so well. A friend told me her brother has lost quite a few plants to frost. Our weather has been colder than usual this year in terms of the last frost. I planted early, so it's just the Lord that spared my plants. I didn't even know I should be worried about it until it had already happened!
We had a good revival, and it was a good experience to be on the other end of a revival. Usually I'm the pastor's wife entertaining the evangelist. Last week, I was the evangelist's wife (and "co-song evangelist").
We stayed in the home of our new friends, and I discovered that she is full of excellent hospitality ideas! Let's see if I can remember some of the little details she thought of ...
- a welcome basket that included scrapbook goodies for me, a book for my husband and treats for the kids (including coloring books and crayons) - among other things
- a few extra treats for the kids throughout the week - bubbles one day and a cute notepad and pen another day
- a basket of Little Debbie treats set prominently on the counter that the kids (or any of us) could snack on if they (or we) got hungry between meals
- satin sheets on the guest bed
- a selection of carefully-chosen books to go in the bookcase in the guest room (she knew our interests and pulled a bunch of books out of their regular bookcases so we could browse them whenever we wanted), including a bunch of children's books
I was also inspired by their many bookcases. Yes, we have befriended fellow booklovers! My husband was so inspired he's talking about making a wall of built-in-style bookshelves in his study.
As for me, I got great ideas from how they arranged books on the shelves. Many series were placed on their sides in a stack, thus taking up much less room than the traditional side-by-side arrangement (but still looking nice and orderly).
Their house is so bright and cheery! I enjoyed soaking up new decorating ideas, too.
They are fellow thrift store shoppers, so we enjoyed trading stories of our best finds. We even took a morning and went to their local thrift shops!
Can you tell we had a really great time? :) On top of that, the revival services were wonderful as well. Oh, and lest I forget, their church paid us a whole lot more than we ever expected ... It was a week full of blessings!
Since I've been in a creative mood recently, these are mostly craft-related links ...
... with the exception of this one that explains how to make your own oatmeal packets. I know, this doesn't make sense to everybody, but some of us love this kind of thing! :)
Now for the craft-related links:
- Here is a great card to use as a sketch for using ATCs (Artist Trading Cards) on greeting cards.
- A neat alternative to the traditional wedding program can be found here.
- This is another cute idea for a tin, this time for kids.
- Do you have any of those chipboard coasters still sitting around? Check out this post for a cute idea!
- I'm always looking for ways to make my tools do double-duty. A brilliant soul found this method works for making scalloped edges with your corner rounder.
- Candles in a tin, but not what you usually think of!
- Have you been invited to a baby shower? Are you hosting one? Here are fabulous ideas for gifts, as well as favors. You can easily adapt these ideas to the supplies you have on hand.
- And lastly, have you decided how to package that Father's Day gift card yet? If not, check out this post for a super-cute idea! I might just have to do this for our church's Father's Day gift!!
Once I heard that they would be clearancing fabric, I told my son we would get him the long-awaited John Deere fleece for a throw once the fabric got to 50% off.
Well, that happened last week. I got two yards of fleece and made a "throw" big enough to fit his bed. I figure this way it will still be a nice-sized throw when he's 13 years old and 6 feet tall! In the meantime, this could be a summertime replacement for his comforter. As you can see, he was delighted!
Fleece is so easy to work with because it doesn't ravel. I sewed the edges to the back just for looks' sake, but you could easily do one of those double-sided edge-tied versions, too, and eliminate the sewing altogether. I decided against that for this throw because the design of the fabric is too busy for that style.
Maybe you’re like me and have never tackled a project like this before. My husband marveled that I would try something like this with no previous experience. Well, when I was growing up, my dad always told me that I could do anything I wanted to, and I’ve taken him quite literally. That has given me a lot of confidence in my abilities. (Thanks, Mom and Dad!)
Anyway, I took pictures of each step as I went so I could share with you just how easy this is. But before we get started, let me warn you: This is most likely not the way the pros do it. It’s just what seemed logical to me – and worked!
First of all, let’s remember what these chairs looked like to start with.
The first step was to get the chair pad off the chair. I discovered that mine screwed on and off, and I suspect most chair pads do. Before you go prying them off with a screwdriver, please look for screw holes!!
The next step was to make a pattern so I knew how big to cut the material. I actually measured this before I ever went to the fabric counter, but it’s still important to make a pattern. It’s a lot easier than measuring eight times over. I used an old paper bag for my pattern, and it measures 23x24". [Remember: Measure twice, cut once!]
The next step is to cut out the pieces. Since I was using plastic covering, I also cut those out.
Once that’s done, layer first the plastic, then the fabric, right-side-down on your work surface. Center the chair pad on the square.
Next, I pulled all four corners in and stapled them in place with the staple gun.
Then I pulled and stapled the middle of each side.
Then the tricky part – adjusting the fullness so there are no visible puckers at the corners. I found it was easiest to get my fingers under the fabric and adjust it before slicking it down and stapling it. (I hope that makes sense! I was adjusting the fullness to ruffle at the bottom of the chair pad instead of the sides.)
Now, if you really want it to look finished, you can cover the middle of the bottom (which includes the fabric ends) with paper or a fabric that won’t ravel. I didn’t have any of that available, and I really don’t care what insects might see when they look under my dining room chairs. My guests don’t make a habit of looking underneath them, and I don’t, either. :)
Voila! You’re done! Simply set the chair pad back on the chair, screw it back in place, and admire your handiwork.
Then I got to looking closer and decided a gathering stitch would improve it tremendously, so I pulled it up into the three gathers you see here, forming "swags." It definitely looked better, but it was still lacking something.
I don't remember who suggested tiebacks (my husband or me), but it was the stroke of genius that we needed. Once I made the tiebacks, it all came together to make a beautiful window treatment.
I couldn't be happier with my "new" dining room!
They discontinued the Towncraft shirts that he liked, and we've tried nearly every white shirt on the market. Most of them aren't durable enough. He likes them just so, and I can't blame him. It was within the last year that we finally found a good replacement - the Stafford Super Shirt. The only trouble is that this shirt costs $34 regular price ... and I think we paid in the $20s for the two we got him last year.
So I went to JCPenney expecting to pay $136 for 4 dress shirts.
When we walked into the store, I saw they had a sale on John Deere shirts - buy one, get one for $0.99. I promised my son we'd check what they had in his size since he's just about outgrown his first John Deere shirt.
Then we went to the dress shirts. When I saw a sale tag hanging in front of them, I got really excited. We were going to save some money! And when I got closer and saw that it was the same deal - buy one, get one for $0.99 - I almost cried! Not only that, but my husband needed four shirts. I checked his size, and there were exactly four left. God takes such good care of us!!
So we happily tripped over to the boys' section where we picked up two John Deere shirts for my son - one in each of the next two sizes, so he will have a John Deere shirt to wear for the next few years. I figured we saved so much money on the dress shirts I could afford to splurge on something that might as well have his name on it since it was so perfect for him (one of them had a picture of a John Deere tractor and it said, "My Best Friend")!
Our cost at checkout was $93.24, a total savings of $42.76 over what I was expecting to pay. And to think I even got two shirts for my son out of the deal!!
Isn't God good?!
I weeded about half the garden today (I need to finish tomorrow), and I harvested these radishes. I still have about half a row unharvested. I can't tell you how pleased I was that something actually grew! (I don't sound very confident about my gardening skills, do I?) :)
My tomato and pepper plants all have buds on them, so I can't wait to see what happens in the next week or so. It's so much fun to watch things grow!
This is what the chairs looked like before I covered them. (And I didn’t choose the worst-looking chair, either!) As you can see, they needed redone. I’m not sure what the company was thinking when they covered these chairs with this flimsy fabric and plastic-bag-weight plastic, but they certainly weren’t thinking long-term – or children!
So what do you think? A 100% difference? I’m thinking more of a 200% difference. It’s exactly what I’ve always envisioned for my "perfect" dining room. I mean, it was nice before, but it’s fantastic now.
I managed to cover all eight chairs in an afternoon, averaging about a half hour for each chair, from start to finish.
My husband was a bit skeptical as I was starting this on his way out the door Friday afternoon. When he came home for supper, he was so impressed and excited about it that he insisted we go right out to Wal-Mart and see if they had any of the fabric left for a window treatment. So we did!
The afternoon didn’t pass without incident, though. I’m not surprised, with two preschoolers in the house. Both kids wanted me to open the windows "so we can hear the birds sing." What mother could resist that logic? So, against my better judgment, I opened both dining room windows. Really, what could happen with me right there?
I forgot to take into account my accident-prone daughter. After almost finishing my fifth chair, I looked up to see her sitting on the windowsill. Before I could even say her name and tell her to get down, she leaned against the screen. You guessed it – she fell right out the window!
Thank God we were on the first floor and there were flowers and bushes to cushion her fall! Here’s the goose egg she got on her forehead (I have no idea what she knocked her forehead on):
I created separate baskets for different themes - hand soaps, bar soaps, body washes, toothpastes, toothbrushes, flushable wipes, hair care, lip care, wound care ... You get the idea. I just piled everything into logical groups and looked to see if those groups would fit into a drawer organizer. If not, I divided them further.
I also made use of a basket to store smallish lightbulbs and an old plastic "canister" to store cotton balls.
Some things don't need organizers because they're already square and stack easily - like feminine care products or tissues (which are on the floor). Toilet paper rolls stack nicely, too, and they're also on the floor. You can stack them just about as high as you'd like!
My husband thinks I'm strange when I open this closet door just to enjoy the organization. I guess he doesn't understand how much I enjoy being in control of something in a house with two preschoolers! :)
Enter Wal-Mart's fabric clearance ... They're getting rid of the fabric department here and starting to mark down all by-the-yard fabric.
I went in today for other things and decided to see what the markdown was this week (still at 25%, so I'm waiting on the bulk of my hope-to-be-purchases). While there, a bolt of gorgeous floral cotton duck fabric caught my eye. It might as well have my name on it, it is so "me"!
I figured it would be about $8/yard or something, so I checked the end of the bolt. Imagine my surprise to see $3.81 marked on it! (This is 60" heavy cotton duck fabric, mind you.)
Now, I had a reason to be looking at home decorating fabrics. You see, about two years ago our church family purchased the most gorgeous formal dining table and (8) chairs for us. [Yes, they spoil us!]
The chairs came with an off-white fabric covered with a thin plastic for protection. With kids in the house, the plastic lasted about a month. And without the plastic, the fabric isn't holding up well. (It was a pretty thin fabric to start with - not at all suited to dining room chairs.) So when I found out they were starting to clearance the fabric at Wal-Mart, I told my husband that I wanted to re-cover those chairs.
I measured the chairs and figured the cost to re-cover all eight seatcovers. Would you believe it's under $12? That even includes a medium-weight plastic protector for each chair! Oh, and did I mention that our church gave out $10 Wal-Mart gift cards for Mother's Day? Guess what I'm getting with mine! :)
I'm hoping to get this done this week before we go away for another week to hold a revival ourselves. So keep an eye out for pictures to come!
I got this clock for an outstanding price and knew I wanted to customize it for my mom for Mother's Day. You won't find a woman more devoted to her family than my mother, and I knew this would be one of the best gifts I could possibly give her! There are two empty spots because I didn't have proper pictures, but my brother and sister will be responsible to fill those since I am lacking pictures of them! :)
This worked perfectly for our family since there are exactly twelve children and grandchildren (total). I'm still not sure if I'm done decorating it. That white space in the middle is just begging to be embellished, so I might pull the back off on Monday and see what I can do to it. (I'll try to remember to post pictures if I end up doing anything.)
And here is the card, made with my new Martha Stewart lace punch (purchased with the 50% Michaels coupon this week) and Primas (purchased with the 40% Michaels coupon this week).
I based it on this card design and used silver metallic paper, "treasure/cherish/adore" paper and roses paper. The circle embellishment is from my collection of $1 clear acrylic stamps (Studio G from Michaels).
Happy Mother's Day to the most wonderful mother in the world!
[By the way - the clock is much larger than it looks in the picture. Each picture slot holds a wallet-size picture (the kind you get with school pictures), if that gives you proportion ideas.]
My family loves garlic bread! Awhile back, I bought a package of the frozen kind to see what I could learn about what makes it so good. I think I've stumbled on a good substitute that's just as much of a convenience as the kind you buy already made.
You'll need: day-old French bread, spreadable butter, garlic salt and Parmesan cheese.
Slice the French bread into as thick a slice as you desire. I think mine average about 1/2" thick.
Sprinkle each slice liberally with Parmesan cheese and garlic salt. (Yes, I know this sounds a bit out of order, but bear with me.)
Then spread each slice with spreadable butter. You'll want to spread it a bit thick to trap the cheese and garlic salt underneath. This takes a little practice, but it gets easy after a few slices.
Then all you have to do is flash freeze them and put them into freezer bags. They're ready whenever you are! I have found the best success putting them in my toaster oven (around 350 degrees) for about 5 minutes. They are just as good as storebought, and much easier on the wallet!
Head on over to Biblical Womanhood for more great frugal ideas!
I don't know about you, but I've always read that you should never, ever buy a new vehicle because you lose thousands of dollars when you drive it off the lot. To this way of thinking, only people who are trying to "keep up with the Joneses" will buy new vehicles, simply because they're the only ones who don't care about depreciation - only status symbols.
Well, after crunching numbers for almost a full week, I have to respectfully disagree. This has been the hardest decision of our married life, but we have decided to buy a brand-new Hyundai Entourage. Let me explain ...
While we had hoped to save up and buy a nice used van in a few years, we were recently faced with some significant safety and rust issues on the body of our current van (which would have been completely paid off at the end of May). The repairs needed to keep this 9-year-old van safe and running would run into the thousands of dollars. Since the Kelley Blue Book on it is only $1400, there's no way we'd get that money out of it in a few years in a trade or outright sale. And we're not in a position to put thousands of dollars into a sinking ship right now. (Is anybody ever in that position??)
So, suffice it to say, we have been looking at vehicles.
Have you looked at vehicles lately? We had sticker shock, to say the least.
Where we come from, you used to be able to get a decent used van for around $10,000. Everything is more expensive here, especially since Maryland inspection requires vehicles to be in nearly-new condition to pass (a one-time inspection). But we were still not prepared to find 2- to 4-year-old vehicles with anywhere from 30,000-60,000 miles going for no less than $18,000 and no warranties to speak of! (No, we weren't able to find private sellers with anything worth buying, either.)
So we ventured into a few new car lots and priced new vans. Hmmm ... anywhere from $22,000-40,000 brand-new with significant warranties. Starting at a $4000 difference with no mileage and a good warranty? Sounds like it might be a deal, at least compared to the used vehicles.
But I was still suffering from sticker shock, so we went home and ran some figures. And then I had an idea ... Why not see how much it would cost us per year and find out what the most economical solution would be?
We average about 15,000 miles per year. My brother informed me that any new vehicle should easily get you to 150,000 miles, if you so desired. (I know most people trade them off long before that, but we're not most people. We have had old, not-very-well-made vehicles get over 250,000 miles - ones that supposedly burnt up engines at 150,000 miles.) So that meant we could potentially own this vehicle for 10 years (maybe more if we were fortunate).
So I took the price of our favorite new van, which also happened to be the least expensive, and spread it out over 10 years, including the interest on the loan. [Yes, this will have to be financed. It's not realistic for us to buy this one with cash, so I'm aiming for the next one - which is realistic.]
Then I figured the price of the used vans, taking off the number of years' worth of mileage they already had on them.
Are you surprised that it is actually cheaper per year for us to buy the new van? And are you really surprised that we actually paid more per year for the last used van we bought? I know I was! And that's not figuring in the great warranty we got, either.
Now I'm not telling you it will be this way everywhere. If we lived where we used to, it probably wouldn't be this way. But where we are right now, and with what we have to work with, this is the best deal for us.
Whew! Now that I've admitted my little secret, I hope you won't think any less of our frugality. We have prayed and lost sleep over this decision and finally feel that we have come to the best decision for us right now. Now it's a matter of trusting God to give us wisdom to make it last as long as possible!
I know I shouldn't obsess about what others think of our decision, and I'm not really. I posted this mainly to challenge you to think twice about frugality. The best frugal choice for your family might not be the first choice that comes to your mind. I'd encourage you to explore your options, no matter what you're looking to purchase. If nothing else, you'll know you got a great deal!
You will need a white pillar candle (mine is 6"), decorative tissue paper, heat gun (or hair dryer) and glitter glue.
First, cut the tissue paper to fit the candle.
Then wrap the tissue paper tightly around the candle and use the heat gun (or hair dryer) to melt the tissue paper into the candle wax all around. When you see it look wet, you know it's time to move on to another spot. It dries rather quickly, but give it a minute or two to set up before going on to the next step.
Once the wax is set again, use glitter glue to accent the decorations. I used gold glitter glue in the center of each pansy. You could also add a ribbon, charm or any other accent you desire.
If you have to buy the candle and the tissue paper, the cost is around $3. Since you'll have all that tissue paper leftover, you can make matching tissue paper flowers to surround it in a gift bag or other packaging!
Edited to add: From what I read elsewhere on the web, so long as the candle is one that burns on the inside, leaving a wax "shell" (like a pillar candle should), this should be safe to burn. However, burn it at your own risk - and be very careful that it doesn't get close to the outside edges.
The idea was to make Artist Trading Cards and then use them on regular greeting cards. I have long liked the idea of ATCs, but I never had a use for them ... until now. They are the perfect size to use my $1 clear acrylic stamps, so I think I'll be making more of this style card. This one uses all new clear $1 stamps as well as dollar-store glitter glue (which has worked beautifully for me).
And this one uses new $1 clear acrylic stamps, glitter glue ($1 store) and stick-on rhinestones (another $1 store find).
The more I look at them, the more I think they could have used a little something where the background papers joined. Perhaps a ribbon? I'll keep it in mind for next time!
I still can't get over this. These people are way too good to us!
Not only did they get the grill, but they also had it completely assembled (thank goodness - it looks complicated), bought a filled tank, and got a grill cover for it. You might notice it's a little fingerprinted in the picture. That's because it's stainless steel.
Wow!! Isn't God good? And His people are pretty awesome, too! :)
So I decided to do all the cooking instead. This suits me better, actually, and it relieves the church ladies of that much more pressure during revival week. I can coordinate my meals better, I know exactly how long to leave a dish in for, and I can do portion-control better (without ending up with a refrigerator full of leftovers mid-week).
I bought the groceries yesterday and took a quick picture before I put it all away. I did most of the shopping at Save A Lot, but I got the fresh meat at Wal-Mart. Unfortunately there were no awesome meat sales to take advantage of, but I thought I did quite well for $105. (The church picks up the tab for the food, thank goodness! They seem quite pleased with the amount.)
Here's our menu for next week (he'll arrive for supper on Monday):
Roast Beef & Gravy (recipe here)
Chips Ahoy! Chocolate Pie
Breakfast Casserole (recipe here)
Green Bean Casserole
(leftover dessert from Monday)
Wimpy sandwich (a layered sandwich with egg salad, tuna salad and chicken salad on Hawaiian Sweet Bread)
chips & pretzels
broccoli, cauliflower, carrots for dipping
Ham & Egg Skillet
turkey smoked tenderloin
Candied Sweet Potatoes
Impossible Pumpkin Pie
biscuits & gravy
Glazed Meatloaf (recipe here)
(leftover dessert from Wednesday)
Veggie Appetizer Squares (the cold vegetable "pizza" appetizers)
chips, pretzels, dipping veggies
Baked Soy Lemon Chops (recipe here)
Grandma's apple pie a la mode
nachos with Pizza Dip
chips, pretzels, dipping veggies
Chicken Parmigiana (recipe here)
(leftover dessert from Friday)
homemade soft pretzels w/cheese dip
Cherry Swirl Cheesecake (recipe here)
I'm sure it goes without saying that I took more pictures than these (around 90, to be exact), but these are my favorites.
I took this one (above) with the panoramic setting on the camera.
This is the lake that's so clear it appears to have a mirror image instead of water at the bottom. It's rather small here, but closeup it catches all the little details. I was thrilled with how it turned out!
I really like the lighting on this one. It's the part they call the wishing well, if you're familiar with Luray Caverns. I liked how the formations on the bottom right almost look like an alligator. Added to that, the light is casting a greenish tint on it!
So there you have them - my favorite vacation pictures!