Saturday, September 6, 2008

Free trial of Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime is a subscription program that you can sign up for that makes 2 day shipping free on qualifying products, and next day only $3.99. This is a great find if you purchase much online!

Now try it free for 1 month and see how you like it and if you'll use it before you pay a dime. Perfect time for Christmas shopping!

Check it all out here....

Friday, September 5, 2008

Homemade Fire Starters

Camping has become a favorite activity of my hubby's and we have been going more frequently now that the little one is older. I'm always looking for ways to make the experience better and found one that is free and makes use of things we would normally just throw away.

Homemade fire starters! All you do is save your leftover toilet paper rolls, paper towel rolls, or even the rolls that hold aluminum foil or cling wrap and fill them with lint from your dryer. Dryer lint is a known fire hazard material anyway so it just makes sense.

I save mine in those baggies that they put your newpapers in when it's raining... perfect size for a weekend camping trip, just grab one and go.

My hubby was a little dissapointed on our last trip, I might add. We went with a Boyscout leaders family and while hubby was starting our fire, which took a little time, the other family's was off and blazing. I happened to be there when they started their next blaze & wouldn't you know it... lighter fluid was his secret!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Finances-God Provides!

I'm usually good natured about finances, so long as we're living within our means. I'm always looking for ways to save money though, and do a decent job of it most of the time. We've had quite the spending spell these last few weeks though and it's driving me crazy.

It all started about two weeks ago when we bought a woodstove off of ebay for our home. We had a woodstove in our previous home and loved it and can't seem to keep this one warm enough for us in the winter. We bought a corn stove and used it the last 2 winters, but wouldn't you know they started making Ethanol and the corn prices went nutso!

We started thinking about our alternatives, and now that I'm a SAHM we decided it might benefit us to see about a woodstove again. We were given one to try from an old friend that had purchased a new one but after looking at it we realized it would be too small for us and would probably just frustrate us to no end having one that wasn't sufficiant to do the job. Hubby started looking online and found one he liked and did a quick search on ebay and wouldn't you know it ... there it was! We ended up paying about 60% ($1800) of it's retail price for it... for those of you that know woodstoves it's a Hearthstone Heritage Soapstone Stove in Brown Enamel finish. It's beautiful!!

Then we have to purchase all of the supplies to install it. We have an old chimney but will need to purchase a flexible liner and all of the pieces and parts for it (between $400-$650) to protect the chimney because of its age, and we'll need to build a hearth (that's my job... how fun!)

Wouldn't you know hubby found someone selling oak firewood and he couldn't resist. He purchased about half of what he thinks we will need for the winter from him... a good chunk of change at $270. We already have some wood we split this spring that's been aging, so hopefully between the two efforts there's enough.

You say, "Why bother?"

Well, we live in an old farmhouse that has decent insulation as far as we can tell, but it's always cool. Summer or winter the kitchen is never warm (except for the days when I can or bake a lot) and we don't use the air-conditioning except for those really humid days. No matter the heat source so far, gas-forced or corn stove, we can't keep it comfortably warm within a reasonable budget. Plus... I have to admit, we could both use the exercise that cutting wood brings.

I grew up with wood heat used primarily and always loved coming in the house in the winter after playing outside and standing next to the woodstove until I couldn't take any more heat. The direct heat is so nice. Anytime you're cold you just stand up next to it and soak up the heat. Nothing else like it.

Well, I started talking about finances and have to tell you that the one that really breaks the bank for me is the car. It's ten years old and, I know, I know, I should expect some things to need repair once and awhile, but ... The breaks started squeaking a few weeks ago and hubby got to looking into it this week thinking he could just replace the pads and maybe the rotors and be done with minimal expense. Couldn't be that easy... the rotors wouldn't come off and then he realized that a boot and the calipers needed replaced as well. He called a mechanic friend of ours and found out that it will cost us $400+ on top of the parts we've already purchased.

I have to let you in on the good in all of this. Hubby has been able to do some overtime during all of this so the good Lord provides!

House to Home Happenings

Yesterday I was able to succeed at my goals of cleaning the bedding and clearing out that ever so dreaded corner (aside from hubby's box of college art he's going to find a home for in the shed). It didn't take too long so I set out to keep up on the rest out the house.

I spend some time just tidying up the place. We've had a crazy week, and there were several areas that needed some quick attention. I usually sort through the mail and the bills every day when it comes in and I had two stacks to go through. I'd already sorted them into important and not too important, but the final task was still at hand.

After I got through the mail I mopped the dining room floor and had my son put his toys away he had stopped playing with so they would be off of the floor in time for his Daddy to come home.

I find that quick spurts of effort make keeping the house in order much easier and more enjoyable. To top it off, hubby came in the door and said, "The house looks nice hun." Guess those couple of piles of mail were really noticeable.

I have to say that my house is not as tidy as they come, but I do put up a good effort to keep it presentable. We don't live without the occasional pile of clutter, and don't look in my closets! There are times that you might find yourself in an avalanche!

I'm sorry to report that I wasn't able to get anything done in the bedroom today. Between preschool and groceries it didn't happen and the evening is full.... I guess tomorrow's a new day to start anew.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Works-for-me Wednesday...Backwards Week (#1)

As you can see, this is my first time submitting to works-for-me wednesdays and this is fun! I happened to come along at the backwards edition which means instead of me giving you an example of something that works for me, you give me tips on what works for you....

Here goes...

In my last post I let you in on the fact that I am cleaning out the Master Bedroom. In that bedroom, as well as strung throughout the house, are Boyd's Bears that I have accumulated through the years. We have had the bears for several years and I'm sure they are all retired and no longer being made versions.

My husband and I are working on making our home more simple and calming and find the bears are no longer need to decorate our spaces. We're doing more with wall color and furniture arrangement and less with stuff just sitting around, and with a 3 yr old I just don't have time to move them around and clean them all the time.

My dilema... what to do with them? Many, but not all of them have memories attached to them such as getting them as a special gift, or purchasing them on vacation.

I have two options...
  1. Box them up and store them up in the shed where they'll be forgotten about until one day they're worth something, all the while and hoping the mice won't find them.
  2. Sell them, piece by piece or altogether on ebay. I have no idea if they would be worth anything to anyone... this might involve a little research.
What would you do? I don't think I could get hubby to give me an honest answer because he'd be afraid to hurt my feelings, but guessing I think he would say just get rid of them, even give them away..... but my response "What about the one we got on our first trip out of the country together? (Although it was just Niagra Falls) or "What about the one ....?"

I have no idea how many I have... some are already in the shed (didn't have room for them when we moved)... this could be ugly.

House to Home Mission...

This week I'm going to tackle the Master Bedroom. I'm always trying to keep the rest of the house presentable in case someone would happen by. I often forget about our bedroom because we don't "live" in it.

I realize that our bedroom should be a haven away from the busyness and work of the day, a place we look forward to relaxing in at the end of the day. Somehow stuff just accumulates there. We don't have a lot of extra storage in our home (we live in an old farmhouse we're updating) and what we do have is full, so when something needs a place it often finds a spot in a corner of our room.

I've been collecting things to take to Goodwill or The Salvation Army and have a small pile of my son's outgrown clothing worthy of putting on ebay. On top of that is a collection of Boyd's Bears that I've decided I'm ready to part with... but do I try to sell them, or store them away in case they're worth something someday? I'm trying to minimalize my home to make it more relaxing and pleasing to the eye, but all that stuff is finding it's way to my bedroom.

I'm not even sure I want to see what's under the bed! I know my hubby has hidden some of the little ones old outgrown toys under it in an effort to see if they'll be missed. It's also served to house some of my freebie finds that I didn't know when I would get to trying out, one of which is a sticky carpet roller? if I remember right.... maybe that one will go into the donation pile.

When I get through all of the stuff I'm planning to shampoo the carpet. My mom purchased a carpet cleaner years ago and we borrowed it when we moved in and have asked her several times to take it back. She doesn't have a lot of extra storage either and just says, "I know where it is if I need it." I guess it's good to have handy with a 3 yr old running around the house now.

Then I'm on the lookout for a nice basket or hamper to fit a small corner inside the bedroom, right next to the bathroom. I've been using a very old basket there, but it's too big and has some broken slats in it I'm afraid might catch on our clothing.

I need to search through my candle stash and see what I can do to decorate the room with what I have on hand. I may invest in a nice floating shelf to put them on and need to get a frame for a picture that I've been wanting to hang in the room.

I now get to face the fact that there's no way I'll get all of this done today! I have to take small steps throughout the week to make it work. I find that if I tackle something head on and full force I never finish it completely.

My husband was home Monday and we completely cleaned and rearranged the living room.... well, almost. I didn't get through the magazines on the ottoman yet, and hubby didn't take the speaker down off of the television that is no longer in use, but aside from that it looks like a new room.

I have to face the fact that two working together are much better than one with a 3 yr old alongside... on second thought, maybe I need to take two weeks in the bedroom!

Today I plan to clean all of the bed linens, fluff the pillows and replace them... I really need to get another set! I'll also try and tackle the corner of the bedroom since that's what I'm dreading most. I'm going to do things in small bits here and there as to not get overwhelmed by it, and so the rest of the home doesn't suffer by my concentration there. I've had that happen before too... clean one room and the one next to it becomes a disaster zone.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Grace on a Mission

This website is about missions in life. Being a wife and mother my main focus is my family, which means my home and everything that has to do with taking care of them. I'm always on the lookout to find better ways to do things, whether it be cooking something new and exciting, finding a new craft or game, saving money or having fun.... or having fun while saving money :)

I intend to share with you some of my journeys as a SAHM as I try to make life more fun for my family as well as more affordable. I hope to share thoughts, recipes, pictures, shopping finds and faith stories and yes, even a few failed attempts along the way.

It is my hope to share the reality of Christian life together as we walk through this crazy, mixed up world we live in, and try to make sense of where we should fit in it all.


Monday, September 1, 2008

My Weekly Mission...

I'm going to start a big mission every week to better allow God to work through me, and to help me open my eyes to see where he can use me. I want to see what God has in store and where else I could do things better.

I often think of ways that I think maybe I could be called but find myself never acting on it. I feel like this could be a way to help me to focus that energy on a weekly basis and help me to decipher what he wants me doing for him.

This week I will focus on finding someone that needs something, as the last post was titled, "It's not about me!"

I have to admit that I don't often like ask God to show me what I need to be doing. I'm usually afraid to ask because so often I know he will take me out of my comfort zone. I hope that I'm ready for the challenge and that I am able to follow through with it.

I will post back when I feel that I've completed this mission and let you all know the results. If you would like to join in my missions, let me know, I would be glad to hear from you. If I get a good enough response, I will look at setting up a link system so we can all check out everyone's results.

God Bless...

Sunday, August 31, 2008

It's not about me! -Cafe Chat

The catchphrase “It’s not about me” has become quite popular in our current world today. What does that phrase mean to you in your personal life? Explain.

I think in today's culture it's very difficult to not be worried about "me". In this fast paced, get it now, pay for it later, throw it away society, we tend to not worry about the next person and just live for the moment.

Since I've become a SAHM I realized that there is so much to life that is missing when you don't worry about anyone but yourself and your immediate family. There are so many needs just outside our doors that we don't even notice because we're moving too fast and feel like we only have time to care for ourselves.

We've also been trained in this today's culture that you get what's coming to you. Sometime's there's something to be said for that, maybe the lack of effort or drive to get things done. Yet other times there are circumstances that are unpreventable whether it be health, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or other challenges.

It can be hard not to judge people if they are in a down situation. It's too easy to say that they could just try a little harder, or just move on from the situation, but it's not often that easy.

I think we need to be careful to watch for those around us that are hurting or in need and reach out to them. Those people in need may be us one day and we may be the one that is grateful for something as simple as a smile, a nice gesture, or a listening ear.

Since I started writing here, a song has come to mind and is stuck in my head. The song is from Alabama entitled Angels Among Us. The song speaks of angels that linger among us to help us through our darkest hours, from a kind word from a stranger, to a phone call from a friend, they're here to show us how to live, teach us how to give and to guide us with the light of love.

I can't help but think that we can be that "angel" to someone in need if we willingly listen to God's lead. I believe that God places those people in our lives that need us and that we are the one's he has chosen to do that job. If we don't do that job, it doesn't get done because it was our assignment from him. We are his arms, feet, mouths, and ears while we are walking the earth.

I'm prayerfully taking the challenge to look outside my family this week to see if I can find someone that need's something I can provide whether it be something as simple as a smile or a hug, or something that takes a little more of my being time or finances. I hope to be able to share with you what I feel God puts in my upcoming week.

I challenge you to do the same as you feel called to help in God's Kingdom and if you care to share anything God calls for you to do it would be awesome to hear about it!

So all in all, I think the phrase 'It's not about me' to me means that I am important, but overall it's about God and his Kingdom work, not me.

Lord lead me on....
God Bless!