Tuesday, January 31, 2012

sweet skirt

Awhile back I bought a bag of designer fabric scraps on Etsy. I am too cheap to buy designer fabrics normally so I was pretty excited. Well, it was a surprise bag so I didn't really know what fabrics or patterns I'd be getting. When it arrived I was less than excited. Most of the pieces were fabrics (terrycloth, chenille) that I have no idea what to do with, and the others are small enough that its hard to find projects to use them for. There were a few pieces of fabric that coordinated and I was able to piece together a skirt for Christine. Here it is... isn't my little model the cutest?!? ;-)

Creations by Kara

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Planning Gifts

I've planned ahead for our Christmas gifts for awhile now but I sort of winged it when it came to birthdays throughout the year. This year I am doing it differently. I made up a Word.doc that I can refer back to and update as I buy things on sale and make things throughout the year. So I can keep track of how much I have spent, what I have bought for whom, etc. I have it broken down by month, and have the family and friends that I typically buy gifts for listed under the appropriate month. Then I add the gift info as I buy/make something for that person something like this:

Mom - dvd $5, frame (on sale with coupon) with pictures of grandkids $15 (originally $30)
Shannon - purse (sale) $10, handmade headband $3 (supplies)

Dad - tickets to the movies (deal on Groupon) $8, Old Navy t-shirt $5 (on clearance - originally $20)
Nate - Lego set $15
(website sale 50% off), Star Wars book set (Half Price Books) $5

You get the idea. As you can see, we have a pretty modest budget for gifts - its around $20 for most of our family and $50 or so for our kids. Sometimes it takes creative shopping/planning to get the most for our dollar and put together nice gifts for a minimal amount of money.
I expect this pre-planning will help me to avoid over-buying like I have in the past. In past years I would buy things on sale with someone in mind and stash them for later but forget about them. But now I'll be keeping track and know who I already have purchased stuff for. If you need help planning your gift purchases here are a few posts on budgeting for gifts. A few of these are Christmas posts but are easily applied to buying birthday gifts.

A Guide to Budget for Gifts You Can Afford

Clutter-free "Consumable" Gift Ideas

30 Gifts Under $25

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2Cor 9:7

The Southern Institute

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Salmon Fishing in The Yemen

I was contacted to do a post about an upcoming movie release. I usually keep up with new movie releases but somehow I missed this one. From reading a bit about it and watching the trailer I am sure this will be on my watch list!

Salmon Fishing in The Yemen: From the beloved director of Chocolat and the Oscar-winning screenwriter of Slumdog Millionaire comes the inspirational comedy Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. A visionary sheik (Amr Waked) has a big dream - to bring salmon fishing to the desert. Willing to spare no expense, he instructs his representative (Emily Blunt) to turn his dream into reality, an extraordinary feat that will require the involvement of Britain's leading fisheries expert (Ewan McGregor) who happens to think the project both absurd and unachievable. That is, until the Prime Minister's overzealous press secretary (Kristin Scott Thomas) latches on for its potential as a 'good will' story. Now, this unlikely team will put it all on the line and embark on an upstream journey of faith and fish to prove the impossible, possible.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Texas Chicken Chowder

Recently my sister sent me a recipe for White Chicken Chili. It sounds so yummy but I didn't have all the ingredients. I ended up improvising with what I already had in the pantry and made up a yummy dish I have named:

Texas Chicken Chowder

1lb cooked chicken cut up
1 can nacho cheese
1 can cr. chicken soup
2 cups cooked rice
2 cans beans (I used one can pinto and one can of black beans)
1/2-1 cup milk or broth
1 can green enchilada sauce
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp taco/chili seasoning (or more if you like it hot)

Mix it all together in a pot and heat on medium until bubbly. Serve topped with shredded cheese, sour cream, avocado slices, jalapenos, tortilla chips, etc.

If you end up trying it out let me know what you think of it! Thanks!

Linking up to:
The Southern Institute

I've been Tagged!

Lisa over at Ramblings of The Cool Chick tagged me!

Post these rules.

1. You must post 11 random things about yourself.
2. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post.
3. Create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer.
4. Go to their blog and tell them that you've tagged them.
*No stuff in the tagging section about "you are tagged if you are reading this." Legitimately tag 11 people!!

1. Eleven Random Things about me... (was having a hard time deciding what to say about myself so I just used the questions that I came up with for the next round of bloggers that I tag).

- What celebrity do you think you look most like?
I would have to say either Jennifer Gardner or Rachel Ray
- What is your favorite bible verse OR book of the bible?
Jeremiah 29:11
- Who could you not live without?
I automatically started going down the list of my family and was about to pick my hubby but truly I would have no life without my savior Jesus.
- If you could live anywhere for a year (money is no object) where would it be?
There are so many places I'd love to go, to live... but I think I'd choose Italy... or Greece... or Hawaii... ;-)
- What Disney princess are you most like?
I used to think Belle, but I kind of think Rapunzel now. Tangled is my new favorite Disney movie.
- What is your proudest moment?
Giving birth to my daughter at home with my loved ones around.
- What is your least favorite food?
- Name one food you could never give up:
at the risk of being a stereotypical girl - CHOCOLATE!
- If you had to choose just one hobby/interest to pursue - what would it be?
This would be terribly difficult for me. I have a lot of interests: photography, scrapbooking, crafts, sewing... I think I'd have to choose photography. Though I'm really thankful that I don't actually have to choose just one!
- Did you make any New Year's resolutions this year?
I'd rather think of it as goal setting. ;-)
- What is your favorite quality about yourself?
I am a caretaker. I love my friends and family with great passion and I do my best to be there for them however I can.

2. Answer the Questions the tagger set for you...

1. Who do you admire most and why?
my grandfather - he was a POW in WWII
2. What did you want to be when you grew up?
3. What is your favorite beverage?
cherry coke
4. Dogs or Cats?
cats all the way
5. What is your least favorite exercise to do?
um... running - I have a horrible mental picture of what I think I look like when I run... its probably exaggerated but I can't get it out of my head.
6. What is one thing you have done that you aren't proud of?
occasionally when my kids are screaming I scream back. bad mommy. :-(
7. If you could do 3 things on your bucket list tomorrow, what would they be?
travel somewhere tropical, skinny dip, make love on the beach.
8. If you could go on a trip anywhere, where would you go?
9. What is your favorite book?
currently The Hunger Games trilogy
10. What is your favorite candy bar?
11. If you could tell someone from your past one thing, what would you say?
I would ask my childhood friend why we grew apart.

3. Make up 11 new questions for the bloggers you tag...

- What celebrity do you think you look most like?
- What is your favorite bible verse OR book of the bible?
- Who could you not live without?
- If you could live anywhere for a year (money is no object) where would it be?
- What Disney princess are you most like?
- What is your proudest moment?
- What is your least favorite food?
- Name one food you could never give up:
- If you had to choose just one hobby/interest to pursue - what would it be?
- Did you make any New Year's resolutions this year?
- What is your favorite quality about yourself?

4. I tagged:

Friday, January 20, 2012


Awhile back The Homeschool Post organized a swap especially for homeschool moms. My partner Whit of Whit's World and I have a lot in common, more than just similar blog names! She has two boys that keep her busy and is just starting out homeschooling her oldest this year.

Here is a pix of the swap package that I put together for Whit. I am a bargain shopper and a DIYer so I was able to pack a lot of punch. I included:
a copy of 1/2 Price Living by Ellie Kay - to help stay money smart in this tough economy
a mom's pocket planner - to keep her crazy schedule organized
Restaurant.com certificate - so she can go on a date w/ her hubby!
some purple lip gloss and nail polish - to pamper herself a little bit
yummy chocolatey treats - cause who doesn't need a little chocolate fix once in awhile?
an apron & wreath that I made especially for her - because I know she loves the color purple!
And for her boys I slipped in some animal stickers and a science experiment book.

I really hope that Whit enjoyed the package as much as I enjoyed putting it together. I am enjoying getting to know her through our emails and her blog posts. Stop by Whit's World and say "hi" sometime!

Just a short time after I sent Whit her package she had some health problems. I think its been a difficult time for her and her family. She has been unable to reciprocate with a swap package for me. At first I was kind of pretty disappointed. Its a swap, there is supposed be gifts exchanged, not just one sent - right? But the more I thought and prayed about it I reminded myself that a gift should be given without the expectation of a gift being returned. Regardless of whether she was able to return the gift, I was blessed by sharing my gift with her. It was so much fun for me to put the package together for Whit. I hope she was as blessed by it as I was in giving it. I pray for God's blessings to be showered on Whit and her family.

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2Corinthians 9:7

In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive. Acts 20:35

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Hearts at Home

This is the year. My year to finally attend a Hearts at Home conference! I have been pregnant or nursing (with minimal gaps) for basically the past seven years. And the closest conference to us is always near or close to the same weekend as my church's lady's retreat. I've always been conflicted about which to choose. Well, I'm going for it! I can hardly explain my excitement. Does that sound nerdy?

Some of the featured speakers this year are: Michelle Duggar of 19 Kids and Counting and Dr. Juli Slattery of Focus on the Family Ministries, and The Fly Lady . Gathering with thousands of moms, Hearts at Home main sessions are high energy opportunities to laugh and learn. Through drama, music, and speakers who understand the real challenges of motherhood, you'll find your vision refreshed, your heart full, and your perspective transformed. Main sessions will take place at the beginning of your conference day and immediately following your workshop breakouts.

Here is a clip from a previous Hearts at Home conference:

I am sure that I am not the only one who can relate to that skit! ;-)

Friday, January 13, 2012

What is Pinterest?

I think there might still be a few of you who are wondering what exactly Pinterest is. Well... it is a virtual bulletin board where you can "pin" websites or blog posts for you to refer back to later. You can pin onto categorized boards to keep your pins organized. This is a great tool for keeping track of websites or blog posts that you know you'll want/need to use later. I love it. I have found it helpful on many occasions. I have boards for cooking, crafts, style, etc. Here is a sampling of what my Pinterest boards are like:

My Creative Homeschool Ideas Board has stuff like this in it:

Paint Chip Word Maker

30 (educational) webSites for Kids who Finish Early

I have a few recipe boards. One is: Good Eats - Breakfasts - I love finding recipes online!

Egg and Spinach Mini-quiches

I have tons of things pinned in: Sweet Sewing Ideas

20 Great Baby Gear Sewing Tutorials

** Warning this site is addictive. There are tons of great ideas on here. But if you are not careful you'll end up spending more time pinning than crafting or cooking or... you get the picture. ;-)

Monday, January 09, 2012


Right this minute I am:

1. Listening: to two of my kiddos fighting naptime. Not in a bad way, just jabbering away to themselves. Cute!

2. Eating: the last bit of popcorn from my lunch. Have I mentioned lately how much I love popcorn? A lot!

3. Drinking: well... actually nothing. I know, I'm terrible. I've been failing miserably at drinking my 8 glasses of water a day... gonna go get one now!

4. Wearing: One of my favorite sweaters (blue v-neck from Old Navy), jeans... ponytail... its mommy-chic. ;-)

5. Feeling: teetering toward depressed. Christine had a First Steps evaluation this morning. And while the therapists were nice as can be, these things always remind me of all the things that my kid cannot do and it puts me in a funk. :-P

6. Weather: its sunny and chilly, but still somewhat unseasonably warm for January in the midwest.

7. Wanting: a break from reality.

8. Needing: a break from reality. ;-) but seriously.

9. Thinking: about my chipped fingernails.

10. Enjoying: the three scrapbook pages I completed yesterday. Haven't scrapped in awhile and forgot how much I love it. And totally need to catch up! I got pix piling up!

**got this idea from a Pinterest Pin. Love it!

Sunday, January 08, 2012


School is going well. I really like the way the curriculum we are using is structured. However, sometimes I feel like it is moving a little slowly. I'm torn between following the assigned tasks/chapters/worksheets/etc, and wanting to move things along so Nate is not bored. Up til now we have basically stuck to the program but Nate has done a lot of additional reading and other educational activities. I'm hoping that the next year is a little more challenging for him. We'll see. I'm not opposed to switching to another curriculum if that is what Nate needs. But I want to give this one a fair try first.

As I mentioned, Nate has been reading up a storm. He got a few second hand books and devoured them! They were abridged versions of Tom Sawyer, Treasure Island and Moby Dick. Nate read them in just a few days. We have been getting back into the habit of going to the library again which has helped him to find new books to read too. He has also gotten into the Franny K Stein books, the Bailey School Kids series and of course he still loves the Magic Treehouse Books. He loves anything with an adventure or a mystery to solve. It is so great to see his love of reading and learning grow.
I read an article online: School ADD isn't Homeschool ADD. And while I am not ready to try to get Nate diagnosed as ADD or anything else, he is a very curious and energetic kid. Because I was home educated I do not have a public school experience of my own to pull from. Its possible that he would be fine in public school. But more than likely someone with Nate's level of energy and precociousness would end up with a similar outcome as the boy in the article (teacher recommending ADD medication). I am confident that he will thrive more in the flexible educational environment here at home than he would in the structured public school system. As always I am constantly seeking God's blessing and guidance with both our child rearing and education decisions. If at any time Isaac and I feel God leading us to put Nate into the public school system we would certainly do so. But for now we are confident that we are on the right path.

Psalms 127:3-5 Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.

Thursday, January 05, 2012


Christine is continuing with her First Steps therapies: PT, OT, DT and Speech. She is making steady progress... slow but steady. Christine has become such a good eater. She loves to eat all tastes and textures of food. She is starting to get the hang of self feeding. She still has a ways to go but she's starting to get it.
Christine is very much a momma's girl right now. She is such the drama queen when she is out of my sight, or even if she just doesn't get what she wants. She gets this pouty cry going... its kind of pathetic, in a cute way. She is turning into a little chatterbox when the mood strikes her. She babbles and chatters on. We love to hear her little sounds (when she's not being pouty). ;-)

Luke 1:80
The child grew and became strong in spirit.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Nine Years...

Today is our ninth anniversary. Its hard to believe that its been so long. And yet I can hardly picture my life without my wonderful husband. He is not perfect. He comes with his own unique brand of challenges and quirks. But he loves and adores me and our children. He supports us financially, and emotionally. He leads us spiritually. He thinks I am the most wonderful, beautiful woman he has ever seen. I mean, who can resist that? ;-) I am so thankful for my DH and I look forward to many more happy years together. I love you!

In case you didn't know... Marriage is hard work. It takes us both giving 100% all of the time. And when one of us stops giving 100% it is noticeable. We can feel the effects in our relationship and the way we connect emotionally and physically. Thankfully there are tons of resources out there to help support healthy marriages. Here are a few websites that I like to visit for marriage tips and encouragement.

Jill Savage has a weekly post called Marriage Monday with tips to keep your marriage thriving.

CWIVES - Christian Wives Initiating, Valuing and Enjoying Sex

Women Living Well - good biblical perspective on marriage and family

Time Warp Wife - she has lots of biblical tips about marriage, family life, time management, etc.

So, this year I suggested to my husband that we do something a little different for our anniversary. Instead of buying each other gifts we're exchanging "Date Nights"... I got the idea from this post I found on Pinterest. They were suggesting it as a wedding gift but I figured, why not adapt it for our purposes? So I have gathered a few restaurant.com certificates, gift cards and movie passes (I got discounted ones at AAA) and bundled them in envelopes for preplanned dates for us to open and use throughout the year. Some of them are simple nearby places that we frequent anyway, but others are more elaborate (mystery dinner theater). We are guilty of doing the whole "What do you want to do?" "I dunno, watcha wanna do?" thing on date nights. I hope the preplanned dates will keep us from doing that so much this year! ;-)

If you are interested in putting together your own preplanned date kits or just want some date night ideas check out these websites:

The Dating Divas

Redbook 100 Great Dates

Budget Date Ideas in Indy

List of Top 10 Marriage Websites

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has beheld God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. 1 John 4:7-12

Monday, January 02, 2012

Personal Goals for 2012

Just need to be clear. This is not a list of New Year's resolutions. (I think I'm telling myself that more than I am telling you. ;-) I read this post from Money Saving Mom recently that got me thinking about my lack of real goal setting. So often I am just doing what I have to do to get through the day/week/month that I don't set a lot of personal goals.
It was really good to sit down and really think about what my priorities are, and what I want to accomplish this year within each priority area. I used the printable goal setting outline from MSM's post and came up with a few things for me to focus on this year. Here are a couple highlights from that list:

Priority: Strengthening Marriage
- pray and read the Bible together more
- be intentional about putting date nights on the calendar
- plan 2 or more overnight dates this year
- watch less tv together

Priority: Health & Fitness
- schedule gym time w/ workout buddy (Beth)
- use more healthy recipes and smoothies
- find more active family activities/outings

Priority: Time Management
- implement a doable cleaning schedule for the whole family (include more delegation)
- minimize tv/computer time
- regularly de-clutter
- play & read with the kids more

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 3:14

Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass. - Psalm 37:5