Friday, October 29, 2010
My church has a Trunk or Treat every year as a safe place for kids to go. People decorate the trunks of their cars and kids can trick or treat at the trunks. We also have a chili cook off, cake walk, hot dogs, face painting, prize drawings, and people dress up. The idea is to keep it on the non-scary side, but you can only suggest, not enforce.
Anyway, I saw a post on Halloween by Mommy Made Green that I really enjoyed. It wasn't from an all or nothing stand point and she also did some research into where Halloween and some of its traditions came from. Personally, I enjoy the Fall Festival type parts of Halloween. You know, the hay rides, corn mazes, apples, pumpkins, leaves changing colors, crisp air, etc.
We decided to let Caitlin dress up for now. As she gets older, I'm sure we will have to talk to her about the bad parts of Halloween and why you shouldn't get caught up in the ghosts and goblins, but for now we will let her relish in the fun of playing dress up.
Hubby and I sometimes joke that we are Mr and Mrs Boring. It's a joke from the show "Everybody Loves Raymond." Ray and his wife were in the car and he exclaims 'We just hit 100,000 miles!' And then they proceeded to call themselves 'The Borings' because, really if that's all you have to talk about and get excited about... Too sadly that is a very real conversation hubby and I have had. So, we've adopted the nickname for ourselves.
But, you know, it's not a bad thing to be boring sometimes. I like my life. It's not a thrill a minute, it's not riddled with oh-so-tiring drama, and I'm ok with that. I stay busy trying to keep my house clean, hot meals prepared, an occasional craft or two, spending time with my daughter, and figuring out how to do all these things more efficiently and on a budget. Hubs and I might feel boring, but I sometimes suspect that we really aren't all that different from every other family out there. Are you and your family 'The Borings' or are you 'Mr. and Mrs. Excitement' and do you like it?
Oh, by the way, I promise I do have some more exciting posts coming up, but I want to make sure the project is completely finished before I post pictures.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
And I wonder, are we really that lazy? Or have we become so busy that we don't have time do a little extra laundry or load of dishes? Does a paper towel really make that happy smiling family on the commercials? Does it really free up that much time? Think about third world countries where people have very little possessions and they value everything they have. They would never use something once and then toss it out. Somehow they would find a way to reuse what they have.
It's also apparent to me that these convenience items cause us to lose knowledge of how to care for things without them. I know, because I didn't know how to clean my counters without a disinfectant spray until I began researching and learned that baking soda is a wonderful multi-purpose cleaner. Or vinegar. Or lemon juice.
And all of these products are way more expensive than the simpler, more natural products. I know they don't seem that expensive, but when you compare costs, they most certainly are. Think about how much you could save monthly if you didn't buy paper towels, paper plates, commercial cleaning products, etc. Probably $30 a month?? That may not seem like a lot, but that's $30 you didn't have and could put towards debt reduction, savings, or a little fun.
It really is a shame. We are wasting precious resources, losing the knowledge of how to care for things without commercial, chemical laden products, and spending unnecessarily all because product advertising has sold us on convenience.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
Thursday, October 21, 2010
So, the next day, I went out to the field and gleaned some sweet potatoes too. 102 pounds of them!! And for my favorite price, free. Now, we have enough sweet potatoes to last us the year if we just store them well. And we plan to give some away too.
For those of you who have never heard of gleaning, it's when a farmer leaves behind some of their crop for others (typically the less fortunate) to gather. Wikipedia states that
gleaning is the act of collecting leftover crops from farmers' fields after they have been commercially harvested or on fields where it is not economically profitable to harvest. Some ancient cultures promoted gleaning as an early form of a welfare system.Not all crops are ideal for gleaning. Sweet potatoes are the perfect crop though because the tractors can not possibly get all the potatoes. So either the farmer has to go back out and hand pick/dig what's left or leave them there. It's not profitable to hand pick/dig the potatoes, so they leave them, and gleaners can pick up the rest.
We asked permission to glean prior to the harvest, but most people don't. If you are interested in gleaning, talk to your local farmers and find out which ones are ok with gleaning and which crops are best to glean in your area.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Lists help me organize my life. I need lists, but looking at and thinking about all the projects I have/want to do makes me wonder if I've got more projects than sense. Do any of you have this problem? Anyway, here's a run down of some of the things I need or want to get done over the rest of this year. That's only 2.5 months!!
- Knit Scarf (in the works) - Christmas present
- Knit Scarf - Christmas present
- T-shirt Diapers (I've been sitting on this one way too long)
- Sew pencil skirt
- Build custom shelves for laundry room (hubby project)
- Build custom built-in shelves for Caitlin's room (hubby project)
- Clean out and organize storage room
- Organize laundry room
- Change out seasonal clothes and donate anything we don't wear anymore
- Build another raised bed for spring garden (hubby project)
- Mulch pathways in garden
- Thanksgiving at my house
- Baked goodies for Christmas
- Make Single Serving Pie in a Jar
- Bake Zucchini Bread
- Chili & Baked Goodies for Trunk Or Treat
Monday, October 18, 2010
Next, I want to knit another scarf except this time I think I'll make it stripped and use a purl stitch somehow. That way I can practice changing out yarn and practice a new stitch. And I think I'll use a larger knitting needle too, so it won't take quit so long as the first one.
So, for those out there who think all of this is strange, I want to explain why I do what I do.
- Financial Motivation: After realizing that we were spending $50 a month on disposable diapers, hubby and I made the decision to switch to cloth diapers. We made an investment into some nice Fuzzy Bunz diapers when Caitlin was six months old and a year later, she is still using them. I only buy disposables now for night time because she wets through the cloth at night. That's a huge monthly savings!! Now add onto that decreased costs because we preserve food that we have grown ourselves, we have never bought baby formula because I was able to nurse, I don't have to buy Swiffer disposable cloths now that I have a reusable one, no more paper towels etc. Some things I do add up to mean big monthly savings, some are small savings, but it all adds up. So what are we doing with this extra money?? The same thing you would, hopefully. We put it in savings, IRA/401K, college fund, and maybe take a vacation or two. We also give in various ways.
- Environmental Motivation: The more I learn about where our food comes from, environmental toxins, and other 'green' topics, the more I realize how unhealthy we are. Our foods are laced with preservatives, shipped from other countries so that we can have the same food all year round, and genetically modified to be the perfect little fruits and veggies you see in the grocery store. We clean with harsh chemicals. Even many home vegetable gardens are sprayed with pesticides that are banned in other countries because they have been proven harmful. No wonder we have the massive amount of preventable health issues we have! I don't want to expose my family to things that could make them sick or kill them. Now don't get me wrong, I am not a germ-a-phobe or anything like that. I encourage my daughter to play in the yard and get dirty. I loved doing that as a kid and I want her to also.
- Spiritual Motivation: I believe that God wants us to be good stewards of both his creation and of the blessings he has given us. Genesis 2:15 says, The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. It is not ours, it is God's and we are given the job of taking care of it. We are also to be responsible for and take care of the blessings he has given us - to me that means our finances (hubby is blessed to have a good job and I am blessed to be able to stay home) and our family (do I really need to explain why family is a blessing). Acts 2:44 and 45 tells me that; all the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. You see, they had possessions and goods, but took care of it even selling them, and were able to give as there was a need.
11I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
All you need is a 5 gallon bucket, Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (NOT baking soda), Borax, Fels-Naptha laundry detergent bar, and water. You can see the ingredients in the picture below. I found both the Washing Soda and Borax at my grocery store, but had a hard time finding the Fels-Naptha soap. I finally did find it at our local Ace Hardware store, or you can order it online. It's really cheap at $1.29 per bar.
Grate the Fels-Naptha with a cheese grater. It kinda looks like hard cheese at this point. Put it in a pot with 4 cups of hot tap water. Heat the water soap mixture and stir, stir, stir, until the soap completely dissolves.
Next, fill your 5 gallon bucket 1/2 full with hot tap water and add 1 cup Washing Soda and 1/2 cup of Borax. Pour in the water soap mixture from the stove and stir until all ingredients have dissolved. Fill the rest of the bucket with hot water, put the lid on, and let it sit over night to thicken.
Now, I thought the detergent would thicken a little, but still be mostly liquid. No. When I opened the lid the next day, there was a thick gel in the bucket. I had to break up the gel to funnel it into my old detergent bottle. Once you have your old detergent bottle filled half way with your new homemade detergent, fill the rest of the way with hot water.
I shook the bottle up to mix the gel and the new water. The detergent is a LOT thinner than my old detergent and that worried me a little bit. I have since learned that commercial brand detergents use surfactants that help lower the surface tension of a liquid and solid meaning that it blends better. So, no worries that my detergent isn't a perfectly smooth blend.
I've washed a few loads now the detergent works great! I haven't done any baby laundry yet, but I don't think there should be any problems. After all my detergent is just that - detergent. I haven't added any chemicals or dyes.
I'm so excited that this worked out well. That's another budget cutter for sure. Instead of $11 for 3 quarts of my commercial detergent, I'm paying a couple dollars for 10 GALLONS worth.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
I really want to promote buying local. I have been buying local food at the farmer's market, but wanted to take it a step further and so I reached out to several local (to me) artists. Hope Thompson was the first to respond and was so excited about doing something for my readers.
Hope is the talented photographer and graphic artist of Hope Photo Art found on Etsy. She is also a 'greenie' not only in her personal life, but work life too. I asked her to tell us a little bit about herself and this is what she had to say:
Namaste! My name is Hope Thompson owner and graphic artist of Hope Photo Art. I am a single mother of three teenage boys and live in a small rural town outside of Raleigh, NC. I design printable digital collage sheets for scrapbooking, jewelry designers, mixed media artist, or any other craft that can involve crafts with paper. I also offer my collection of photography.
For those of you who do not know exactly what digital collage sheets are, they are basically a collection of images that you put together on one page in a digital format in order to print over and over again. Then, the images can be cut out and used in your artwork or for your crafting projects. Digital collage sheets are a great addition to any crafters collection of craft supplies and materials. The graphic designer creates the sheet in a digital format and once you purchase the sheet, the file is sent to you electronically. You can download the file and print it out on your computer over and over again (on recycled paper, of course!). Unlike a sheet of scrapbook paper, you can use that digital collage sheet forever. And, the price of digital collages are usually half the price of purchasing the item already packaged in a retail store.
This business seemed like a perfect avenue for me because I am very conscious about our environment and the world we live in and I love art. It also gives the consumer instant gratification because the items purchased are delivered right to their email in-box and the customer can shop comfortably from their home. As a business owner, I save on shipping costs, packaging supplies, paper, gas, etc…and the costs savings are passed on to the consumer. All of the digital collage sheets are emailed as a high resolution file and have unlimited use. There are some copyright issues, so when purchasing digital collage sheets, check the shop owner’s policies and procedures for more information. The digital collage sheets Hope Photo Art offers can be used for making and selling your crafts, but the purchaser is not allowed to sell the collages sheets in their original format. I also offer items for people who don’t consider themselves crafty such as gift and hang tags and vintage postcards.
Art and music play a major role in my family and we were taught that expression of one's imagination and visions are limitless. Hopefully you will be inspired just as I have to truly appreciate the beauty of what God has given us here on earth to enjoy. I am trying to do my part to help make the world a better place for my grandchildren and their children to live in. And hopefully save a few trees in the process. Many blessings to you all and happy crafting!!
Hope gave me the wonderful opportunity to sample one of her digital collages. It was a lot of fun picking one out. I finally decided on the Homemade with Love retro tags. I thought they would be perfect for some jams I plan to give as Christmas gifts. And they were! I just love the retro design, especially for handmade gifts!
It was super simple to download the file she sent and print them out. Then, I just had to do the semi-crafty part of cutting them out and tying them to my jam jars. Aren't they cute?
Hope also has a ton of cute photo collages for Halloween, Christmas, Thanksgiving, nature collages, and more. AND, she has graciously decided to giveaway another photo collage for one lucky reader. Just in time for fun Halloween crafts too! See below for opportunities to win.
One mandatory entry: Visit Hope Photo Art and tell me which collage you would pick if you win.
- Become a follower of Big Dreams for A Simple Life via Google Friend Connect (right sidebar) and leave a comment (including your email address) telling me you did. If you are already a follower, just leave me a comment and your email address telling me so for your entry. (1 entry)
- Add Hope Photo Art to your favorites on Etsy. (1 entry)
- Buy something from Hope Photo Art. (1 entry)
- Follow me on twitter and leave me a comment including your twitter handle letting me know you did. (1 entry)
- Tweet about this giveaway and leave me a comment letting me know you did. You may tweet about this giveaway once per day. Just leave a comment with the link each time! (1 entry per day)
- Subscribe to Big Dreams for A Simple Life via Networked Blogs (right hand sidebar) and leave me a comment letting me know you did. (1 entry)
- Email a friend who you think may be interested about this giveaway and CC it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and leave a comment letting me know you did. (3 entries - be sure to leave 3 comments)
- Blog about this giveaway and leave me a comment with the link to your post. (5 entries - be sure to leave 5 comments)
- Leave a comment on any of my non-giveaway posts. The comment must be relevant to the content of the post. Come back here and leave me another comment with the title of the post you commented on. (1 entry per post)
U.S. and Canada only. This giveaway is open until Friday, October 22 at 9:00 p.m. EST. The winner will be chosen using random.org. I will email the winner, who will have 48 hours to respond. If winner does not respond within 48 hours, another winner will be chosen. I will post the winner when the selection has been made and confirmed by the recipient.
Monday, October 11, 2010
When we opened the box, we found that it came in this neat little carrying case perfect for storage between seasons.
And when we opened the storage case, it just popped open. Easy peasy. No assembly whatsoever. All you need to do is set the greenhouse tent where you want it and put the stakes in to keep it from moving around (in case of animals or winds).
The tent is made of a heavy duty plastic making it very lightweight, but it seems to be sturdy enough for our backyard gardening. We love that it fits our raised beds perfectly!! Only the stakes aren't that long (it's meant to be placed directly on the ground), so we used some bamboo stakes we had previously used in the garden. The greenhouse has 4 large zippered windows that allow you to get inside and do your gardening and 4 smaller zippered windows for ventilation on warmer days.
After unzipping the large windows, you can just roll them up and tie at the top to keep them in place.
The greenhouse also comes with two small openings, one on each side, for a watering hose for watering the plants or electric cable if you want to put a heater inside.
And while we will probably use this greenhouse the most in spring when we want to start some seedlings, I can tell already that it will surely do the job. After putting the greenhouse up, the next day I could see lots of condensation inside which is something you find on your glass greenhouses because they trap heat and moisture.
The only thing I noticed that was less than wonderful is that it's a little hard to twist the greenhouse back up and get it into it's storage/carrying bag. You just might need a second person to hold the bag while you twist the greenhouse back up and place it inside. And well, that's something I can live with.
All in all, I think this is a fantastic product for backyard gardeners like us.
If you want to extend your growing season with a easy to use portable greenhouse, check it out - Flowerhouse StarterHouse Greenhouse - $79.99
Friday, October 8, 2010
One of the keys to surviving in a tilted economic system in which opportunities to achieve a decent standard of living will be limited is versatility – and the ability to communicate articulately in a variety of ways with the widest possible audience. This includes bilingual ability as well as the ability to communicate in non-verbal ways for the benefit of the disabled – primarily the deaf.
At the same time, a growing shortage of qualified interpreters fluent in American Sign Language has led to more career opportunities – and if current trends continue, it's likely that skilled ASL interpreters will have little problem securing lucrative employment in a society where such a commodity is destined to be in short supply.
Signing Before They Can Speak
A great deal of research has clearly demonstrated that the early years – ages 2 to five – are the best time to educate children in different modes of communication and language. This goes beyond the spoken word (though it is an optimal time for children to learn a second language); many young children have an aptitude for signing as well.
This is not as odd as you may think. As you know, many indigenous peoples around the world,
including American Indian nations, have used sign language for centuries to facilitate communication with other tribes with whom they do not share a language. Some paleontologists and anthropologists theorize that Neanderthals – who apparently lacked the vocal mechanism to produce many spoken words – depended a great deal upon hand gestures to communicate.
In fact, recent research suggests that sign language is innate. An article published in the Boulder Daily Camera in 2003 presented strong evidence that babies as young as six months old communicate with their hands:
"...by 6 to 7 months, babies can remember a sign. At eight months, childrenThe author also cites study funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development demonstrating that young children who are taught sign language at an early age actually develop better verbal skills as they get older. The ability to sign has also helped parents in communicating with autistic children; one parent reports that "using sign language allowed her to communicate with her [autistic] son and minimized his frustration...[he now] has an advanced vocabulary and excels in math, spelling and music" (Glarion, 2003).
can begin to imitate gestures and sign single words. By 24 months, children
can sign compound words and full sentences. They say sign language reduces
frustration in young children by giving them a means to express themselves
before they know how to talk." (Glarion, 2003)
The Best Time To Start
Not only does early childhood education in signing give pre-verbal youngsters a way to communicate, it can also strengthen the parent-child bond – in addition to giving children a solid foundation for learning a skill that will serve them well in the future. The evidence suggests that the best time to start learning ASL is before a child can even walk – and the implications for facilitating the parent-child relationship are amazing.
Co-written by Emily Patterson and Kathleen Thomas
Emily and Kathleen are Communications Coordinators for the Zionsville day care facility, a member of the AdvancED® accredited family of Primrose Schools (located in 16 states throughout the U.S.) and part of the network of Indiana day care preschools delivering progressive, early childhood, Balanced Learning® curriculum.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
A few weeks ago our entire family got sick, and this week Caitlin has developed an ear infection in both ears. She has been pretty miserable and in both cases hasn't wanted much to eat or drink. This is where the gift of extended nursing has really come into play. Because she hasn't felt well, all she has wanted to do is be held my mommy and nurse. We haven't had to worry too much about dehydration because of it. Of course I'm still giving her popsicles and jell-o and yogurt to help, but nursing has really been the key factor.
While I personally believe that breast is best, I would never judge any woman for her decision for or against breastfeeding. That is a very personal choice that has to be made for both mom and baby. And I call breastfeeding a gift because I know many women, friends and family, who have not been able to nurse their babies. They wanted to so badly, but for one reason or another were not able. That is why I feel so blessed today. When my daughter isn't feeling well, I have a special way to comfort her and keep her healthy all at the same time. So, thank you Lord for the blessings you give us everyday that we many times take for granted.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
I think this is dumb for SO many reasons. I mean, don't people know that chip bags are loud and crinkly anyway? Who cares if this one is a little bit more so - it's compostable!! Then the company is leaving the plain flavor in the loud bags. What if an environmentally conscience person wants some flavor or a loud bag complainer wants less flavor? I know you can't please everyone, but this is ridiculous. It's no wonder our trash heaps are overflowing. The public would rather have a slightly less noisy bag (even though all chip bags are noisy) than consume a better product.
The company is supposedly going to try to remake the biodegradable bags and less noisy. I guess time will tell if they really do it or not.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
On my hubby's side, we do a gift exchange. We draw names out of the hat and you buy something for that person between $40 & $50 and then stocking stuffers for everyone else who is able to get together. On my side of the family we are talking about only buying for the kids. Not to mention friends and our church family as well.
All this talk about not buying gifts for everyone makes me feel rather disconnected. I enjoy thinking about each member of my family, what their likes and dislikes are, what little something might bring them joy or be helpful to them in their everyday life. Not that I have to buy gifts, it's just that economically we can't do what we used to - big gifts for everyone. So, I am going to try to make as many gifts as possible.
I can tell you that I have enough jam made, that everyone should expect a jar. (More on that later) It's not fancy, but I hope they will enjoy it. Also, I am teaching myself to knit and working on a scarf right now.
I also want to decorate with homemade things. I'm seeing pumpkins at lots of roadside stands and am trying to figure out what cute fall crafty thing I can do with those. I will make sure to let you know what I'm working on and put up pictures of the projects I am able to do. What homemade things do you like to make for the holidays?
Monday, October 4, 2010
- Fall decorations – Don’t buy new
- Halloween costumes – Don’t buy new
- Leaves and yard waste – No need to bag
- Local Farms
- Plant bulbs
- Buy recycled clothing/Give away what you don't need
- Caulk the windows - Close the gaps
- Do annual furnace maintenance and filter replacement
I love these great suggestions. But, I'd like to add some more.
- Plant a fall garden - Just because the weather is getting cooler doesn't mean that gardening is over. There is still time to plant leafy greens. My favorites are collards, turnips, and mustard greens. Also broccoli and cauliflower are cool weather crops that can not only be eaten fresh, but easily frozen and stored.
- Learn to knit or crochet - With cooler weather here and cold weather just around the corner, knitting or crocheting is more than just a hobby, it's great for making warm blankets, hats, scarves, and sweaters among many other creative projects to keep you busy when you can't get outside.
- Preserve herbs - Now is a great time to hang up your fresh herbs to dry or make pesto and freeze it for later use. Don't let those wonderful herbs go to waste.
- Open the windows - now that the temperatures have dropped, it's a perfect time to turn off that a/c and open the windows. The lovely fall breezes can circulate the fresh air through out your house. Plus something about the fall air just smells so good.
- Start planning for the holidays - If you haven't already started planning, do it now! I hate shopping for presents at the last minute. I end up spending more than I should and I'm never satisfied with what I got for that person. If you start thinking now about what each person you have to buy for might like, you have plenty of time to shop, price compare, or even make a gift.
- Have a yard sale - Do it before it gets too cold. Not only do yard sales facilitate the reuse of unwanted items, they can make you a few dollars for upcoming holiday shopping too.
Friday, October 1, 2010
I do plan to offer this blog as a medium for sponsored posts, or reviews and giveaways, but sparingly. I will only put up material that I feel I can support, or support with caution. As in the sponsored post for the PlayStation Move, I don't see a problem with a gaming system as long as it is used in moderation and the types of games children are playing is supervised. Sponsored posts allow me to make a little bit of income through this blog, however, this blog's main purpose it to chronicle my family's adventures in living a greener lifestyle and working toward our goal of owning a homestead.
So, how often should you expect to see this kind of material? I'd like to keep it to Fridays only. So, if you aren't interested in the posts, I apologize. Please hang in there with me though, there will be plenty of other content to read the rest of the week.
Speaking of other content, there is a great post about being green this fall coming up on Monday. So, keep reading.
This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of PlayStation MOVE. All opinions are 100% mine.I grew up on video games. They required lots of buttons on the controllers and mostly I played them in my room away from my family. Boy oh boy, has gaming changed since then. There is a new interactive gaming system out there now, the PlayStation®Move. If you already have a PlayStation®3, this system is a simple add on to what you already have for only $99 with the MOVE bundle package! I say that because my husband is a fan of the PlayStation®3 because of his beloved Gran Turismo games plus you can use it as a high def Blu Ray player and it has enormous hard drive space.
PlayStation®Move redefines motion gaming with the most immersive and realistic gaming experience only possible on the PlayStation®3 system. The simple, ergonomically designed, easy-to-use controller captures a full range of motion giving you ultimate control over how you play the game. With a diverse selection of games and new ones launching all the time, you can enjoy hours of fun with friends and family.
PlayStation®Move has something for everyone. Whether you’re experienced, casual, or somewhere in between, PlayStation®Move has a wide variety of games including sports, action, party, family, and shooters. The games are addictively fun and the outcome of every move is all under your control.
If a little genie appeared and gave you and your family the PlayStation® Move this would give hubby and I something to do before bed besides just sit on the couch and watch TV after Caitlin goes to bed. We'd be able to get up and and play together. We are both big fans of games of all kinds and this system sounds like a lot of fun. Plus they also have a fitness game called Get Fit with Mel B that I'd really like to try out. I might actually get in a workout during Caitlin's nap?
While I believe that no one should spend hours at a time watching TV or playing video games, this seems like a really fun system if used in moderation. And it could be something for the whole family to enjoy.
Genre: Children's Release Date: 09.2010 ESRB Rating: EVERYONE PS Move : Required