Saturday, June 28, 2008 0 comments

4-year-olds are hilarious!

It has been in the mid-90s here the last few days. Yesterday, my husband was mowing the grass. Usually I let the kids play in the backyard once he's done there, but it was almost too hot for them to be out. (Not only that, but my daughter got her first bee sting that morning and was a little leery about going outside.) So the kids and I hung out in the house.

Somewhere around mid-afternoon, my son decided he wanted to go outside. And he was determined to get himself ready. When he came out of his bedroom, he had on a winter coat and rain boots. Of course, I told him it was too hot for a coat, but he insisted on going out with it zipped up and the hood up. I figured, what can it hurt? He'll take it off as soon as he realizes how hot it is outside.

So he came back a few minutes later, still wearing the coat. (He had at least taken the hood down.) He told me he went to see Daddy. So my first question was, "What did he say?"

Of course I was expecting to hear something about the coat. But my son was still oblivious to how funny he appeared to everyone else in that coat in 90-degree weather.

You know what he said? "Sunscreen. Daddy says I need to put sunscreen on."

I haven't had a laugh that good in a long time!
Friday, June 27, 2008 0 comments

Things my kids are learning from me ...

Do you ever wonder what your kids are learning from you? I certainly do!

As most parents quickly discover, you can often find out by watching or listening to your kids playing. Sooner or later, you'll recognize yourself in something they do.

We just had a church board meeting on Tuesday night. As I glanced into the dining room today, this is what I saw.

Yep, my kids were having their own "board meeting". Can you see the calculator next to my son? He has paper and a pen, too, but they're hidden by the play food.

Apparently they have learned that:
(1) you always serve food for a board meeting and
(2) you always put a tablecloth on the table.

I wonder what else they've learned ... :)
Wednesday, June 25, 2008 3 comments

"Small" blessings

Tonight at church a lady gave me these tea towels and dishcloths.

She ordered them through the mail and they ended up not matching her kitchen. As you can see, they match my kitchen perfectly. She knew that, so she gave them to me!

Here's the wonderful thing about it all ... Just today I was looking at my worn-out dishcloths and tea towels and thought, "I really need to get new ones." If you'd see the dishcloths, I'm sure you'd agree. I tend to use them until they're in tatters.

I would probably have bought a "value pack" at Wal-Mart which wouldn't come close to including 9 dishcloths and 9 tea towels like this set. And I would have paid anywhere from $5-15 for all of this.

Small blessings? No, not really. All blessings are big blessings when you realize just how much God cares about the little details of our lives. If He cares enough to provide dishcloths before I even asked, certainly I can trust Him to provide in the big issues of life!

Now I'll be reminded of God's provisions every time I do the dishes!

A kitchen tip for today ...

I've been reading through an old favorite book by Emilie Barnes the last few days, and I came across a tip I don't ever remember reading before.

She suggests alternating your drinking glasses (one upright, the next upside down) in the cupboard, if they are tapered.

I just got a new set of drinking glasses a month or so ago, and they are tapered. I had quite the challenge to fit them (16, I think) into the space I had allotted my dwindling collection of the previous glassware. I have always stored my glassware upside-down.

I had a moment to spare today, and I rearranged my new glasses according to her tip, just to see how much difference it made. I was surprised at how much room it gave me. I could fit another row of glasses in there now.

Are you having trouble fitting everything in your cupboards? Give it a try and let me know how it works for you!

(I updated to include my picture.)
Friday, June 20, 2008 2 comments

Gardening: peppers and tomatoes

It's time for another update on my garden. Here's what it looks like right now:
This is my first banana pepper. I think I'm going to pick it tomorrow. I decided to give it just one more day to see if it grows at all. I've never grown banana peppers before, so I wasn't sure if it should be any bigger around. It's already reached the 6" length that it's supposed to. I'm just not sure how wide it's supposed to be. (I included my hand in the picture for proportion.)

And here are some of my beautiful tomatoes:
They're not red yet, of course, but it looks like they're going to be big and beautiful! I must have ten of them about this size right now. Here's a picture of one with my hand to give you an idea of how big it is (that's my hand cradling it):
I'm pretty happy with my garden so far. This is the really exciting part - watching things grow, almost before my eyes.

My cucumber plants are already flowering, too, and my carrots' tops are pretty tall!

Monday, June 16, 2008 0 comments

When you see a rainbow, what do you see?

I see a promise God gave to you and me.
In the rainbow's colors it seems I hear God say,
"I keep My promises, so trust Me every day!"

Have you ever learned that children's chorus? My husband taught it to me after we were married, and he sings it every time we see a rainbow. Here's what we saw tonight (please pardon the terrible job of stitching):

You can't see it in the picture, but there was a double rainbow stretching out right over our church next door. It was beautiful and exactly what my husband needed to see today!

And here's just another reminder of the many ways God looks out for us ...

As soon as we heard the wind and rain start, the lights started to flicker. I settled down at the kitchen table with a Sudoku puzzle. For some reason (I'm sure it was God), I happened to glance out the window. I did a double take at what I saw. Our church bus was "driving" itself across the parking lot - with no driver!! It was either headed for the pond or the road, and neither one would have been good!

I yelled for my husband who was shutting off the computer. He must have thought I was crazy.

"Honey, the bus! The bus is moving!"

He came running downstairs and dashed out into the rain to catch it before it got too far. The only thing we can figure is that the emergency brake must have either (1) not been set; or (2) gotten knocked loose by the wind. (Yes, the wind was strong enough to make that a possibility!)

So here's where the church bus ended up:

It's usually parked right beside the light post closest to you as you're looking at the picture.

Whew! That was a close one!

Friday, June 13, 2008 0 comments

A sale at the perfect time!

My blog is full of "sales at the perfect time," if you've been reading ver long. But I wanted to document yet one more blessing from God in the form of a great sale at the perfect time ...

Just this week, our computer gave us a huge scare. It looked like our operating system was trashed and we would lose all of our personal files on it ... including some irreplaceable files. I hadn't done a backup in awhile. (We could get the OS back, but not the personal files.)

Thank the Lord, it booted up just fine after sitting for a few hours turned off, and we were able to backup the most important of our personal files. Our computer technician, who answers all of our questions for free, recommended buying one or two flash drives to backup those files on a weekly basis - if not more often. [He still has no idea why the computer did such a thing ... ]

The only flash drive I had was a 512 mb freebie from Rite Aid. It worked in a pinch, but I had to go through and make some tough decisions about which files I could potentially live without. So we decided that we needed to buy another flash drive or two.

I remembered that they were pretty pricey for the larger sizes, but I checked at Staples first since they run some fantastic sales sometimes. Wouldn't you know, the flash drives were on sale? It doesn't look like they're advertised in the flyer, but the prices were reduced by almost half. I was able to get a SanDisk 4 gb flash drive for $25, as opposed to the $50 price tag from Wal-Mart for the same exact thing. 4 gb is plenty of room for the files we need to backup.

Isn't God good??
Thursday, June 12, 2008 1 comments

Senior Pictures!

Okay, here are a few of the senior pictures I took last week. I'm so excited to get to share them with you! All of these were taken at her home, so I "made up" props as we went. (Their property is a treasure trove of awesome props!)

First of all, here are the "dressier" ones.

And to show the cowgirl that she is at heart ...

And finally, a picture of her with her English mastiff puppy (who at 10 months is taller than me and weighs more than I do - she's going to be HUGE!) ...
I was very pleased with how these turned out. Of course, you probably guessed that I took over 100 pictures. You have to take a lot of pictures to get enough "keepers."

Tomato stakes at just the right time!

My garden is beginning to produce, and I've been needing to buy some tomato cages for awhile now. I'm getting desperate, but I've been told that the tomato cages (Wal-Mart style) are pricey and mostly worthless.

So I decided to look for tomato stakes this week ... but I never got the chance to step inside a hardware store, what with the company and all.

Imagine my surprise tonight when a church member told me he had just made me three stakes for each of my tomato plants! Talk about perfect timing!

He also informed me that it wasn't too late to plant corn, as I had originally feared. (I misplaced my planting schedule and missed my original planting date by over a month.) So hopefully I'll get to plant about four rows of corn next Monday, which happens to be my next available day.

I'm so excited to see recognizable banana peppers on my plants already! And did I mention that three of my tomato plants have nice-sized tomatoes on them? They're still green, but they look beautiful.

Maybe some of those tomatoes will be ready by Monday, too. You never know! What with the kind of weather we've been having the last few days, my plants have been growing almost in front of my eyes. I can't believe how much they've grown overnight when I check them each day!

So God has provided again! This time it's tomato stakes. :)
Wednesday, June 11, 2008 0 comments

Cards to share

My 9-year-old niece has been asking me if she could make some birthday cards for her cousin, brother and mom who are all having birthdays this month. I've been promising the whole visit that we would do it sometime, but I didn't get time to do it until today. Here are the cards we all made (myself, my niece and my mom) with my clear stamp collection ...

I needed to make a wedding card for my husband's nephew who is getting married this weekend. Fortunately I had just made some wedding-themed ATCs to use on just such occasions. So most of my work was done. I just attached it to the card, added some details around the edges, and I was done. I liked it quite a bit!
I was pretty impressed with the cards my niece made. I think she has quite the flair for design. I didn't help one bit with the design of this card (the first one she's ever made). The only thing I helped with was adhesive. This is the one she made for her mom:

And check out the one she made for my other niece! This is a very pretty card, even in person! I think I helped a little with the lace edging on this one because both she and my mom were having trouble lining it up right, but all the ideas were hers. And she even did her own adhesive on this one:

And here's the one my mom made for that same niece's birthday. She also stamped inside, and it's really cute. My mom's hands shake a lot, so I thought she did a fantastic job on that lace edging! To my knowledge, this is also my mom's first card:

We had a lot of fun, and tomorrow we're going to work on Father's Day cards. I'll try to post those tomorrow night.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008 0 comments

Frugal Scrapbooking

I guess you noticed that I scrapbook, although I've featured mostly cards in my posts. So let's talk a little bit about how I incorporate frugality into scrapbooking ...

First of all, I am an archival scrapper. That simply means that I don't put rusty hardware on my scrapbook pages and expect them to last until my kids are grown. It also means that I don't raid my household paraphernalia for items to include on my scrapbook pages. If I get in the mood to do something like this, I make cards. They aren't designed to last 50+ years.

That being said, it's a real challenge to scrap frugally. I used to be a consultant for Creative Memories. During that time, and for a few years afterward, I was a "CM-only" scrapper. I trusted their products and used exclusively theirs in my scrapbooks.

Then their prices went up and I realized I no longer had $100+ to put into an album - with decorations and pictures being extra. So I had to look at my options.

Now don't get me wrong. If you can afford Creative Memories' products, they are fantastic and top of the line. But they are also pricey, and other companies make acid-free, lignin-free products as well. (You'll even find a few with buffered paper if you need it.)

After researching, I decided to switch to a top-loading album once my current CM albums are full. I haven't gotten to that point yet, so I can't offer any reviews on top-loaders. However, I'll tell you that I'm leaning heavily toward Close to My Heart albums. For one thing, I know a consultant who offers a buying club that makes the albums quite reasonable. For another, their albums look comparable to a Creative Memories album, so they'll look good sitting next to each other on a shelf. Thirdly, I've heard nothing but good about the quality of their scrapbooks.

So where am I going with this post? Well, once I decided to switch to top-loading, I had to figure out the cheapest way to get quality paper.

There are some people who are self-professed "paper snobs." I'm not one of them. When I see the packaging states "acid-free, lignin-free, fade resistant" and they've been in business for a long time, I'll use it. So I found cardstock variety packs at Michaels. There are 20-25 sheets in each, and a pack retails for $5.99. That's $0.24-$0.30 each sheet. That completely blows Creative Memories out of the water. (The last I knew, their 12x12" paper was $1.00 a sheet and awfully flimsy.)

You knew this - it gets better!! Last year, they were putting these on sale for $2.50 a pack on a regular basis. That's an even better deal at $0.10-$0.13 each sheet. So I decided to stock up on one of each pack the next time they went on sale. I waited and waited ... and waited ... And they haven't gone on sale -- until this week.

Guess where I was today? Yep, stocking up on my cardstock. And they even had a 50%-off coupon available. I used it on (non-scrapbooking) paper for my son's artist easel.

I should be good for cardstock for at least a year, right? At the rate I'm getting through my albums, it might last me a few years ...
Friday, June 6, 2008 0 comments

A graduation cake

I made a graduation cake for a friend's son tonight. Here it is: I used the frozen buttercream transfer technique that you can find a detailed tutorial for at this website. Look under "Articles" and "How to Create a Frozen Buttercream Transfer". I'd link directly to the article, but their website is experiencing difficulties at the moment.

This technique is really easy but really impressive. I used clip art from Microsoft as the basis of the design.

I need to smooth out the top of the transfer yet, in case you noticed. I needed to let it thaw a bit before I did that, but I didn't want to wait to take the picture.

Please pardon the writing on the cake. I am awful at writing on cakes. (And to be honest, I haven't produced any cakes that "wow" me lately, either. I hope I'm not losing my touch.)