Monday, January 31, 2011

Barefoot Grandmas & Solar Power

Check out this really inspiring story! I wish I could figure out how to post the video on here.

The Barefoot College in India is training grandmothers from countries all over how to build solar collectors. Then armed with their new knowledge, they return to their villages and help them. I can't summarize this story well enough to give it credit. Visit this site, http://www.cnn.com/2011/TECH/innovation/01/24/barefoot.college.india/index.html, and check it out.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Hurricane's A Comin'

If this week ends up being anything like today was, it's going to be a doosy. Hubs left this morning for a work trip and we aren't really sure how long he'll be gone. It may be a few days or it may be a week. I was already dreading the loneliness, but now...

I think Caitlin has a ear infection. I've been wrong before, but this time I'm pretty certain that's what it is. She's been running a high fever, has a drippy nose, and is generally feeling rather poorly. I'm going to take her to the doctor tomorrow.

But we also had a weekend event at our church. Unfortunately I missed this morning's message, but thanks to my mom coming to help with Caitlin I was able to make it to the singing we had in the evening. I didn't stay the whole time, just long enough for my part, but I was really blessed by the music I did hear.

Anyway, now the day is over and I feel exhausted. Caitlin is sleeping and I hope and pray she will sleep well tonight. I've talked to Hubs on the phone. He's there safely and he is visiting with some friends who live there. Now it's time for some boob-tube and crocheting. I just hope the week coming up is less eventful.

Hope you had a great weekend!

Friday, January 28, 2011

No Pattern, Up-cycled T-shirt, Plastic Bag Holder

I've been itching to sew something this month, but didn't really have it in my budget to go buy fabric or patterns. So, I found a solution; use old t-shirts.

Besides wanting to sew something, I've also been needing one of those plastic bag holders with the hole in the bottom. I don't really know what you call them, but I do know they are $4.00 in the grocery store. Even though I try to use reusable bags, somehow, I always end up with a couple of plastic ones. Anyway, I almost bought one of those holders, I mean, it's only $4. But, I thought I could probably figure out how to make one with some scraps around the house. So, here is my No Pattern, Up-cycled t-shirt, plastic bag holder. Wow, that's a mouthful!

Disclaimer: For all you sewers out there, I am still learning and just made this up as I went. It turned out pretty good, in my opinion, but my skills at describing what I'm doing are pretty weak.

First I cut a rectangle out of the back of a men's XL t-shirt. (You can definitely use a smaller shirt. My bag holder came out pretty large. I actually had to make some adjustments because it was too big.)

Then I folded it in half, length-wise and sewed together making a tube. I didn't even pin it. And if you're wondering about the picture below, no, I wasn't working in the dark. The flash on my camera just made it look that way.


Keeping the tube inside out, I sewed some elastic on one of the ends. Leave enough room between the edge of fabric and elastic to roll the edge over the elastic and create a seam. The first picture doesn't look like I left enough room, but take a look at the next one and you will see better. Make sure you pull on the elastic really hard as you sew. Your left hand can guide the fabric through the sewing machine while the right hand pulls, pulls, pulls. (After this step, I realized my tube was too wide, so I tapered the seam down the tube making it look kind of like a pant leg.) Then repeat on the other side.


Now, fold the ends over your elastic and sew, making a seam.


Finally, I cut out the neck of the t-shirt and sewed in on as a loop to hang the bag from.


In retrospect, I would have made it a little smaller. Also, as I look at it, an old pant leg from a pair of sweat pants would work out too. In fact, you'd already have one end sewed with the elastic already in place. Hmmm.....


It's not the most beautiful project there ever was, but it satisfied my need to make something, it didn't cost me anything, and it's functional.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Signs of Spring in January

Maybe it's because I never really went outside much in January before, but I found something very strange outside a few weeks ago. Now, having a toddler, it's necessary to bundle up and get outside if just for a few minutes. So, earlier this month, while pushing Caitlin in the swing, I noticed something that seems really odd to me. Our maple tree is budding!

It's was mid-January and I was already seeing signs of spring!! Can you believe it? I sure couldn't.
I would have posted about this sooner, but I was slack in going out there with a camera. I finally took a picture so you can see too.


Is it just me or is it too early for my maple tree to be budding?? We aren't having unusually warm weather either. In fact, the day I noticed this, it snowed a little. Here's another picture, closer up, so you can see the buds better.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Anti-Princess Movement


Have you heard about the Anti-Princess Movement? You can do a quick Google search on the topic and come up with a host of opinions. But the essence of 'the movement' is this; Disney princesses teach little girls to be weak, fragile creatures who think physical beauty and finding a prince are the only sources of happiness for a girl. The people behind this philosophy believe that princesses are spoiled brats who feel entitled to whatever they want and will run over everyone else to get it.

I don't know about you, but this makes me sad, angry, and frustrated. That is absolutely not what being a princess is about, or why most little girls are naturally drawn to them. Now, there are those girls who do act like spoiled little brats and kick and scream to get what they want, but I would never call them a princess. Diva is more like it.


Disney princesses in particular are getting the brunt of criticism. I, however, would like to offer an opposite opinion; why Disney princesses can be a model for little girls, or at the least a teaching tool. Before you get too judgmental, hold your horses, I've got more to say that will be controversial, but please hear me out.


As a believer in Christ, I learn what a woman should be from the Bible. And here's where I want you to be patient with me. Many of you may have wrong opinions about what the Bible teaches in regards to women. It is not the suppressive text you think. There are many, many heroines in the Bible, and most are from humble origins. They were courageous and strong in a time when women had very few rights. In fact, they often put themselves into dangerous situations that could have cost them their life and still remained obedient to God. Here is a list of the
women in the Bible with links to their stories if you are interested. Please keep in mind that this is a list of the women in the Bible, not all are heroines. Some of my favorites are Esther, Ruth, and Mary the mother of Jesus. The values I learned from these women are also some of the things I believe Disney tries to portray as well; kindness, compassion, graciousness, discernment, contentment, self-sacrificing, and showing strength through their trials.

Ok, so back to the Princesses. Here is my break down of each.


Cinderella:
An example of graciousness and kindness even through great hardship and oppression. Cinderella was the daughter of a wealthy man and who married poorly. After his death, her step-mother wasted their wealth on the two step-sisters. These sisters are divas, spoiled brats who think they are entitled to everything they want when they want it. This family forces Cinderella, the true heir and father's beloved daughter, to work as a servant. And through all of this she remains kind and compassionate to those even less fortunate than herself; the mice and other animals. She remains polite to her step family. She works hard. It is her personality that endears the animals to her and also make her deserving of a fairy godmother that wants to make her wishes come true. The Prince is nice, but he is a side story. The real victory in this story is her triumph over oppression.

Sleeping Beauty & Snow White
: I'm lumping these two Princess stories together because they are really the same. Both Princesses were driven into hiding by threats from jealous witches. They were both forced to live humble lives as peasants. But they were happy. They found friendship and love. They lived simply. Not what you would think of when you think about a princess, right?

Belle:
Like Cinderella, Belle was not born a princess. She became one. She was intelligent, kind, and discerning. Belle was the weirdo in her town because she could read and enjoyed reading for pleasure. She continued reading despite criticism because there was nothing wrong with it and it made her happy. When, fellow villager, Gaston proposed to her, she turned him down because she knew that he was not an ideal mate. Belle did not need a man. And she certainly wasn't going to choose the first one that came along.

She was also brave and self-sacrificing. When her father was trapped and enslaved, she sacrificed her life and freedom in exchange for her father's freedom. Even through these circumstances, she remained gentle and merciful to the Beast. She showed compassion when the Beast could not use a spoon. She suggested drinking from a bowl instead, making her captor feel more comfortable. She saw past his beastly demeanor and saw tenderness within him. This Princess was the only one who actually came to the rescue of her 'Prince,' the Beast. Her love saved his life.

Jasmine: Jasmine was probably also an educated Princess. She knew her own mind. She desired freedom and did not want to marry just any Prince that came along. She valued honesty and was brave. Ultimately she went against her cultural norm and fell in love with and engaged herself to a non-Prince.

Ariel (The Little Mermaid): While Ariel was my personal favorite as a child, looking back, I think she has the least to offer as a role model. She was rebellious, inconsiderate of the feelings of others, and impetuous. Ariel was so head-strong, a term used in the movie I might add, that she deliberately disobeyed her father by seeking out humans. When she was told not to continue seeking after humans, who mermaids viewed as dangerous, she ran away. She didn't leave a note. For all her family knew, a shark could have eaten her. Not only did she run away, she ran to a witch, who took Ariel's most valuable talent, her voice, in exchange for making her human. So now Ariel is alone, without a voice, and has three days to make the Prince fall in love with her or else she will be enslaved to the witch. Sure things worked out in the end, but in the process, she not only risked her life, but her father's life, and her love's. When all the while her father had the power to change her into a human if she would have convinced him that she wanted to see what their world was like. It might not have yielded the quick results that she wanted, but hey, patience is a virtue, is it not?

To wrap up this long post, I would just like to say that my 22 month old daughter is already obsessed with Princesses, and without any encouragement either. She's just drawn to them and not for any of the moral reasons I listed above. No, she just likes to play dress up, play with her baby dolls, and have tea parties. Of course she also likes blocks, choo choos, and balls. I am not under any delusions about why she likes Princesses. But, I have no problems with it because as she ages and matures, she will see and learn, and I will emphasize what true beauty and real Princesses are really about. In closing, here is a picture of my little Princess playing with her blocks.


I know this subject can be controversial and there are many opinions about it. I welcome any comments and discussion, but please remember to be kind and respectful to one another. I will delete any rude, vulgar, or otherwise nasty comments.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Feeling Better

Good Morning Everyone!

I'm sorry for being absent for a few days. We have all been sick and now finally all feeling better. It started with Caitlin on Friday and then Eric and I got it at the same time on Sunday. Thankfully we were able to call in the retired troops for some help with Caitlin on Monday. My Dad was able to come over and babysit while Eric and I went upstairs and got some much needed rest. Even when I couldn't sleep, just his being able to entertain Caitlin was extremely helpful.

Today I feel so much better and get back to regular posting again.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Updated Clean Routine

A while ago I posted about my cleaning routine. I had stopped using my lists and was trying to find a simple routine. But, for me, lists are the key. I'm using them again and have lists for everything, cleaning, meal planning, grocery shopping, plus a calendar and phone reminders. And while lists are wonderful tools for helping me stay accountable, something still wasn't working.

I'd get up in the morning and have to get to work straight away. If I didn't start right then, nothing would be done in time and it was cutting into precious playtime with my daughter. I just wasn't happy with my routine. Then, an amazing and unexpected thing happened. Hubs was planning a football party for the BCS bowl; Oregon vs Auburn. So I busted my tail that Monday to get the downstairs spick and span. Not that a bunch of guys coming over at night would really care if I hadn't vacuumed, but it was important to me to have the house really clean before people came over. Anyway, freezing rain got in the way of the party, but that's probably what saved my cleaning routine. You see, the next morning the house was clean. I didn't have to load the dish washer, or pick up toys, or fold laundry. I could actually have a nice relaxing breakfast, get myself and Caitlin dressed, play with her for a while, and when she was ready to play by herself then get to some cleaning upstairs.

You see, before I would try to get all the cleaning done before hubs came home and then cleaning would be all done for the day. That meant that quite often the dishes wouldn't be cleaned up and Caitlin's toys would still be on the floor among some other untidiness. Well, I was so excited about the house being as clean as it was, that I told Hubs we had to keep it up and we did. But by taking a few minutes while Hubs had Caitlin in the bath to straighten up, or for him to do a few minutes while I was putting her to bed, it made a HUGE difference; not only in the house but in my day as well.

Sadly we haven't kept it to the extreme clean it was that day, partly because I haven't been feeling too well and haven't been cleaning much at all. But, I can honestly say that, this has been a revelation to me and it's not so much about the cleaning as it is about my attitude and stress level throughout the day. I really feel like I have more time to spend with Caitlin, which makes everyone happier and even time to do some crafting. I still use my list to know what I need to clean that day, but WHEN and HOW I clean has changed.

Have you had any revelations to make your life easier and happier lately?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Frozen Food Aisle

Grocery shopping on Monday, I realized that I rarely go down any of the frozen food aisles. The only thing I get from there are frozen veggies and ice cream. Is that strange?

I don't know about you, but I just feel like there isn't anything (besides the frozen veggies) that's healthy there. Everything else is super processed, flavorless, junk. I used to buy chicken nuggets, breaded fish, and even packaged meals. And even then, I knew they all tasted like cardboard. I tricked myself into thinking that it was ok, even healthy (particularly the fish). But then if you look at the ingredients list, something that should be simple, breaded fish, has ten to fifteen ingredients and I couldn't even pronounce them.

Now that I am cooking more from scratch, natural foods, it's totally unnecessary for me to visit that section of the supermarket; I don't miss it at all. I really enjoy cooking and eating fresh, wholesome foods. I know there are a lot of "foods" in the rest of the grocery store with the same processed problem, but for whatever reason the frozen food aisles feels most offensive to me. What about you? Do you shop the entire grocery store or do you find yourself avoiding an entire section?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Robbing the Bank

At least that's how it felt.

Eric and I read Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover Book a year or two ago and really love his simple and easy to follow steps to get out of debt and stay out of debt. Part of good money management for us, comes with carefully budgeting our expenses every month. But, we still struggle. We will often steal from one budget and give to another and other little "tricks" to help us do and buy what we want. However, those little tricks really aren't helping us out any. So, we have decided to give in to Dave's advice yet again and go to the cash envelope system. By taking out cash for certain budgets and using only cash for those things, it keeps you accountable. It's too easy to fudge with a debit card.

So at the beginning of the month, I went to the bank and withdrew cash for quite a few of our monthly budgets. I'm sure the lady behind the counter thought I was crazy for taking out so much cash. Or, maybe not. Maybe other people do that, but for me, it felt so strange. Up until now, I never carried cash and rarely more than $20 if I had any at all. Even though I felt like I was robbing the bank, I feel really confident that using a cash system for our purchases will help us reduce the amount of spending we do.

How do you keep your budgets under control?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Winner SKOY Giveaway


Congratulations Artsy Chaos! You are the winner of the SKOY giveaway. And thank you to everyone who entered.


Winner has been confirmed.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Christmas Gifts: Book

The last gift I am going to post about this week is a book; the More Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Things book. It's packed with simple ideas to help with cooking, cleaning, and all sorts of other tasks. So many simple little tips and tricks, like adding a little sugar to over salted foods to counteract the saltiness, that I had never thought of.

I hope to remember just a small fraction of the things in this book. It will also provide lots of future posts as I test out their suggestions.

So that's it for my review of all the wonderful eco-friendly and frugal gifts that I received this past Christmas. I am extremely thankful for each one of them and so excited to use them too.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Christmas Gifts: Food Mill

One of the things I asked for this Christmas was a food mill. It sits inside a pot, kind of like a double boiler, but with a hand crank on top. After you have cooked your food, you put it in the food mill, turn the crank and it pushes the food through the holes on the bottom. Then the food that has been pushed through is fine and smooth. It's perfect for mashed potatoes or making baby food. But that's not why I wanted it.

I wanted it for canning. You can put your tomatoes through it to come up with a smoother spaghetti sauce or for making ketchup or BBQ sauce which I haven't done yet. It's also good for berries because it prevents seeds and skins from getting into your jams and jellies.

I can't wait for this summer when I start canning the crops from our garden! This food mill is going to help me make more interesting things than I have ever made before. Until then I'll be perusing different canning cook books dreaming of all the delicious new foods I'll be preserving this summer.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Christmas Gifts: Wood

This one isn't really about a Christmas gift given to me, but one given to my husband.

My dad, for as long as I can remember, has used wood heat in the winters. He has a nice wood stove that heats their house quite nicely. And in the past couple of years, Eric has also really enjoyed using wood heat. So, dad bought a truck bed full of wood for us to burn. We don't live out in the country yet, so getting the wood from downed trees on our property isn't a possibility just yet. He got enough that we should be able to have a fire all winter!

We are also contemplating finding a used fireplace insert to install. Right now, our fireplace is meant for having a cozy fire to sit by, not so much for heating the house; it only heats the living room. If we can find one of those fireplace inserts, that would be great! Here's a picture of the kind I want. Not necessarily the exact one, but one with a glass door so we can still see the fire and a blower to help heat the house.

What kind of heat do you like to use? I know they all have their environmental impact, so I'm not really sure which is better. I know my dad doesn't cut down perfectly good trees for heat, just ones that have died from random tree ailments or have been torn down in storms. So, if done that way, wood heat is best environmentally and oh so cozy.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Christmas Gifts: Custom Shelves

I have been asking for custom shelving in my laundry room and also in our daughter's room for a long time now. So, when hubs told me that he was going to make the shelves in my laundry room as part of a Christmas present I was thoroughly excited.

Some of you might not think that such a great Christmas present since it's a house thing and since I've been asking for it (kind-a like a honey do thing) for so long, but, I'm a little weird like that. I ask for a lot of practical things when it comes to gift giving occasions. And the fact that hubs did it himself, put the time and effort into it was a real treat.

You see, this was his first real construction project. He has built the raised beds for our garden, but that was simple compared to what I was asking for. I wanted shelves with doors above the washer and dryer, a work counter with shelves below on one side of the washer and dryer, and on the other side I wanted cubbies with an open space below for things that couldn't fit in a cabinet. Before we had a single rack going across the room and that was just not enough storage space or an adequate use of the space we have in there.

Here's what we had after Eric took down the wire rack shelf.


And here's what I got.


Just what I asked for! And here's a better shot of the cubbies. I now have a dedicated spot for my purse, Caitlin's diaper bag, Eric's gym bag, our reusable grocery bags, pool bag, and one more spot for something else I haven't thought of yet.


I'm so excited about my shelves and proud of the work Eric did! I honestly had my doubts when he first got started because I thought he would build it in a different way. But he did a fantastic job! And he asked me my opinions along the way so that they would be just how I wanted it. After he finished it up and painted, I sewed the two curtains and put them up with a spring rod.

Now, I have a nicely organized, luxuriously feeling laundry room with plenty of room to store my canning supplies, and we saved money by building it instead of buying it or hiring someone to do it. Whoo hoo!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Christmas Gifts: Sourdough Starter

I received an amazing Christmas present this year! Well, several actually, but today I want to tell you about one in particular; a twelve year old sourdough starter. How cool is that!

Up until now, I had only used dry yeast in my bread making. Using a starter sounded difficult, scary, and really cool. My sister-in-law was given a 12-year old starter a while back and I told her, if she could find a way to get it across the country, I would love to have some. And guess what? She put it in a little jar and carried it over here on the plane with her!

Using a starter really isn't all that different from using baker's yeast. You mix the right amount of starter with your ingredients, knead, let it rise (although this part takes longer with a starter), and then bake. And you have made your delicious and totally unique sourdough bread.

It's unique because differences in location, humidity, the flour you use to feed it all create different types of bacteria and yeasts that make the lovely sourdough flavor. And having a twelve year old starter is great because it has been proven to be a good starter. You can make your own at home, it's really easy, but having a proven starter is cool too.

The lady who gave my sister-in-law the starter also sent a couple of pages of information on how to care for the starter. Very helpful!! I also found this website on the Basics of Sourdough Baking which was very helpful as well and has a basic bread recipe too.

It took me a few tries before the bread came out right though. Although the dough was easy to make and work with, my sourdough was dense and the crust too thick and crunchy. After some research with the help of my hubs, we found that we just needed more water. Using a little more water in your dough and also putting a pan of water in the oven while your bread bakes helps it become more light and airy. Also, brushing the dough with butter before baking keeps the crust a little softer.

We have really enjoyed making this artisan boule bread. It's amazing how much more flavorful this homemade bread is compared with the sourdough breads you buy in the supermarket.

We also tried sourdough waffles topped with berries and whipped cream. Yum!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

SKOY Review & Giveaway

Giveaway Closed

Whoo hoo! Big Dreams for a Simple Life has received it's 100th follower!


I feel like that is such a big accomplishment for my little blog! I really want to thank each of you for reading and commenting on this blog. So, anticipating this big event, I contacted SKOY about offering some of their unique SKOY cloths for review and giveaway and I'm happy to say they were totally on board.

If you haven't heard of SKOY before, here's a little bit about them from their website.
SKOY cloth is a 100% biodegradable, absorbent, re-usable, European-made, clean, and fun multi-use cloth.

The SKOY cloth is a fabulous, absorbent, biodegradable and natural multi-use cloth. Our re-usable earth friendly cloth is perfect in your kitchen, bathroom, and on most surface areas in your home or office. SKOY cloth can be used in place of your sponge, wash cloth or paper towels.

It is a European made product and 100% biodegradable because it is made from a natural cotton and wood-based cellulose pulp. SKOY cloth is a chlorine-free product using water-based colors and inks. After an independent composting test, SKOY cloth broke down completely within 5 weeks.

The SKOY cloth is a durable product due to the reusability factor and can last months. Using a SKOY cloth is equivalent to using 15 rolls of paper towels in an average home. With the high cost of paper towels, as much as $2 per roll, SKOY cloth is the obvious choice for your wallet and the environment.

The SKOY cloth has an absorption factor of 15x its own weight. As a result, producing the most superior cloth product available. Imagine using 15 sheets of good-quality paper towels at once… This is how a wet SKOY cloth will feel in your hand.

The SKOY cloth is long-lasting because of the wash ability feature. It dries quickly, so it is not a breeding ground for bacteria. Have you ever used your sponge, then smelled your hand and it reeked of horrible bacteria? That will never happen again if you microwave your SKOY cloth regularly. It is also dishwasher and washer/dryer safe. Cleaning your SKOY cloth will keep it healthy and germ-free. Please see Use & Care for instructions.

The cool and unique designs will make cleaning fun!

I have heard of SKOY long before now, but had never seen them or felt them in person. When they came in the mail, hubs and I were both intrigued by the feel. They feel just like thick recycled paper. (You know how recycled paper used to always feel different than regular paper.) Then wet, it was something like a cross between either a paper towel or wash cloth and a sponge. They're durable too. I pulled and tugged after wetting and couldn't get it to rip or tear.

These little cloths are awesome! They clean just like any other product you would normally use, but are way better because of how environmentally responsible they were made and because you can use them for a long time. I tend to use sponges a lot especially since ridding my house of paper towels, but they become grimy over time. Not SKOY. You can put them in your dishwasher or washer and dryer to clean them. You can also put them in your microwave, wet of course, to clean them too. Quick and easy and now, germ-free.

Thank you SKOY for allowing me to test your product and for offering one of my readers the chance to try them too! I love it and will continue using these in my kitchen and bathroom!!

Now for the giveaway:

You must complete the mandatory entry in one comment before any of the extra entries. Please include your email address with your comment. Failure to follow these directions will disqualify you.

Mandatory Entry: Follow Big Dreams for a Simple Life on Google Friend Connect (right-hand side bar) and 'like' SKOY on facebook.

Extra Entries:
  1. Like me on Facebook (right side bar) +1
  2. Follow me on Networked blogs (right side bar) +1
  3. Follow me on Twitter +1
  4. Vote for me on We're on the Fence or Top Mommy Blogs by clicking the buttons on my right side bar, only one vote per site per day +1 each
  5. Tweet about this giveaway, only once per day +1
  6. Buy a pack of SKOY cloths from one of their e-tailers or retailers +3
  7. Put my blog button (left side bar) on your blog and leave me the direct link +3
  8. Blog about this giveaway and leave me the link to your post +4
U.S. and Canada only. This giveaway is open until Sunday, January 16 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.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Upcoming Series

What did you get for Christmas? I hope it was just what you wanted. I got my fill of really cool gifts and I'm really excited about using them. So excited in fact that I want to do a short little series next week about them. Sounds really self indulgent, doesn't it? Well, yea, I want to brag a little, but that's not really my intention. Although I am excited about the things I got, I want to share them with you because they are either eco-friendly, frugal and more often than not, both.

I've learned some new and fun things about some of my gifts, some will help us save money, and some are really great environmental tools. So, keep reading, next week will be chock full of fun new things!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Snow Cream

Have you ever heard of snow cream?? I was really surprised to find out that no one in my husband's family had. They are all from areas that get lots of snow and never heard of it. That's amazing to me.

Snow cream was one of the best things about getting snow! Here in North Carolina it doesn't snow very much. We love to watch it fall and dust the ground oh so slightly. We love snow days that free us from work and school. But when we actually get enough snow to pile up and make snowmen and sled down hills we make snow cream.

The day after Christmas, we got 7 inches!! So of course, I wanted to make my beloved snow cream. Well, what is it you ask?? I still haven't told you?? It's basically ice cream made from snow. Creamy, light with a simple vanilla flavor, and oh so easy to make.


You scoop up a big bowl of undisturbed snow. You know, no yellow snow, not where you've been walking, not muddy and dirty; clean, fresh snow. Mix in one can of sweet condensed milk, vanilla extract to taste, and a little milk to make it smooth and creamy. And voila, you have a quick and easy snowy day treat. Just make sure to eat it right after making; it melts fast and doesn't do so well in the freezer.


Linked on Hearth and Soul's Blog Hop

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Networking

I have decided to join a few networking sites. Networking is so important in today's world and if I hope to have an occasional giveaway and/or review for you guys or want to learn from other like-minded people, which I do, I need to put myself out there more than I have been. I also have a few other motivations that I'm not quite ready to share just yet.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know what networking sites you can find me on.

Over the holidays I started a Facebook fan page.
Joined Sheblogs.org, We're On the Fence, and TopMommyBlogs.com

And if you didn't know, I am already on Creative the Hive, Twitter, and Networked blogs.

You can find buttons for all of these great networking sites on my right-hand sidebar. Check out these different sites if you like finding good blogs to read. You can find some really interesting ones on there. And thanks for supporting me as I try to branch out!

Monday, January 3, 2011

What's Your Resolve?

Did you make a New Year's resolution? I made a few, but, you see, I have a problem with New Year's resolutions. The problem is, no one keeps them. I attribute everyone's resolution failures to lack of resolve and human nature. The dictionary has several definitions of the word resolve, but number one on the list was this:
to come to a definite or earnest decision about; determine something.
When you resolve to do something, make a resolution, it should not be an idle whim, but a true determination. It should be firm, without a doubt, that you will absolutely find a way to succeed in your endeavor. That is the problem for me. I already know that I will fail in my resolutions. Although they are chock full of good intentions they do not really have a measurable finish line and they are subject to human nature. My resolutions are subjective making them difficult to achieve. If this sounds a bit confusing, read what my resolutions are and you will understand.

RESOLUTIONS:

Be more open to hearing and following God's will in my life. Like other Christians, I have often failed in this area. But, I do long for closeness with my Savior. And although I know I will at times fail again (because I am human which means I am also selfish), I resolve to fight my human nature as much as I can and look to that which is greater than myself, Christ.

Be a better wife, mother, family member, and friend. Again, this resolution means fighting my selfish human nature. And I don't care who you are, if you are a live person, you are selfish in one way, shape, or form, and probably more. But anyway, I want to not just care about the people around me, but to be more active in my caring. I'm not sure just yet how I am going to do that. But I think it means being open to opportunities when they present themselves.

Continue learning to be more frugal and environmentally conscience. There are a lot of little goals within this resolution like using the envelope system and being more mindful of the environmental impact of the things I do everyday. And of the three, it is more measurable. If I can reduce our budget and save more, then I am being more frugal. If I learn new sustainable practices and put them into practice, then I am being more environmentally conscience.

Now do you see? It's going to be a tough go for me this year, but those are the things I really want to change in my life. So, I hope your resolve this new year is firm. That you will fight your hardest to achieve your goals. But I also hope that you are realistic in your resolutions. It's ok if you mess up, because well, we are all human. We all mess up. Just, when it happens, pick yourself up and try again. That's what I'm going to be telling myself.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year Catch Up

Happy New Year! I hope you all have had a wonderful Christmas! We sure did. We had a great time with the family and friends who could be near. We have had over two weeks with either family visiting from out of town. And we even got snow; 7 or 8 inches!

We spent Christmas Eve with my my side of the family and Christmas Day with Eric's. His mom and sister were able to visit from the west coast and it was so good to see them. We stayed up late, played lots of games, ate too much, and laughed 'til it hurt. What more can you ask for? One of my dearest friends was supposed to come up with her family for New Year's Day. But she is pregnant and the doctor recently told her to keep her activity level to a minimum and was not able to come.

Today, it's quiet in the house and I am happy to be getting back into the normal swing of things; happy to be blogging again. I have several posts written up and just waiting to share with you. In the meantime, I am trying to get my poor house back in order and cooking a traditional New Year's Day dinner. It consists of ham for good health, greens for financial prosperity, and black-eyed peas for good luck. Between moving stuff around for Christmas decorations, all of Caitlin's new stuff, lots of visitors, and now taking down the Christmas decorations, everything is a mess and needs a good dose of reorganization. I guess it's a good thing all these holiday things are in the winter. It gives you something to do when you can't be outside much.

I hope all of you had as much fun with family and friends as we did. I'm truly thankful for the time we had. And really excited for the year to come!
 
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