Thursday, June 28, 2012

Cardmaking



I made some simple greeting cards last week during naptime.

Greeting cards can be quite expensive, so I usually buy mine at the Dollar Tree for 2/$1 or I just make some simple ones myself.

It's really easy! 
1) Cut a 8.5x11 piece of cardstock in half forming two pieces that are 8.5x5.5.
2) Fold each piece in half to make a card.
3) Cut a piece of patterned paper (I buy scrapbooking paper on sale at Michael's or A.C. Moore) to 4.25x5.5.
4) Glue to the card (or adhere with double-sided tape, if you prefer).
5) Add a greeting to the front (I print mine from the computer onto cardstock OR I letterpress them... you could also use rubber stamps) and adhere using foam dots (so it stands out from the card).

That's it!  I like to buy coordinating paper so I can embellish the cards a little more.  You can make a bunch of these in an afternoon, then you will be stocked for any upcoming holidays and special events!

Do you ever make your own cards?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Amamante


I'm blogging over at She {hearts} It today.  I'm sharing about a great nursing/maternity night gown!  Read the Amamante review here...AND enter to win one of your own!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Shall Not Perish

We are teaching Vera John 3:16 in our family devotions each night.  We have motions for the verse so that it will be easier for her to learn.  In case you're not familiar with it, John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life."

Vera's favorite part of the verse is "shall not perish," because she gets to lean over and pretend she died.  :)  It's really cute!
Are you teaching your children memory verses?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Easy Up

It's BLAZING hot here (well, it is summer in eastern NC!), so my hair is almost always UP.  Here are some styles that have been inspiring me lately!
Source: glamour.de via Aliesha on Pinterest


How do you keep cool in the summer?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Cordelia's Four Months Old!

 

Cordelia is four months old today!  We are so blessed to have such a sweet, happy, content baby.  She is quite easy-going and loves to thrill us with her smile and the occasional giggle.

Here are some milestones:
-weighs 15 lbs. 11 oz.
-is 25 inches long
-is healthy!
-rolls to her side to sleep
-sucks on her thumb and her other fingers
-smiles, coos, and laughs
-has a little bald spot on the back of her head
-wears 6 month clothing
-is quite noisy when she nurses
-likes swinging and being worn in a baby wrap or sling
-holds her feet when I'm changing her diaper
Thankful for a happy & healthy baby!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Ways We Save Money: Personal Care

I hope you all are enjoying this saving money series!  I'm enjoying sharing with you some of the ways our family is able to economize.

Once again, things will look different in your family, so please don't feel like you have to do everything the way we do it!

1. Low maintenance
In some ways, Tad and I are pretty low-maintenance in the toiletries department.  I use hairspray four times a year and buy makeup about once a year.  I buy cheap shampoo ($3) in huge bottles and it lasts me over a year.  I also buy cheap conditioner ($3) and it lasts over two years.  (Side note: I'm hoping eventually to switch to a no-poo method, but one thing at a time!)  By not using a ton of different hair products, lotions, etc., we are able to spend less in this category. I also don't go to the tanning bed or the nail salon (the former for health and financial reasons; the second just for financial reasons). 

2. Homemade body wash
I make Tad's body wash now.  I use water and a bar of soap and it ends up being cheaper to make than to buy.  I modified this recipe.  For me, I just use a bar of organic shea butter soap, so I don't use body wash very often (if I use it it was a gift or a B&BW freebie).

3. Homemade deodorant
I just recently made my own deodorant.  I haven't used it for very long (about a week), but so far it's worked great in the 90+ temps we've had lately!  I used a simple recipe: coconut oil, arrowroot powder, and baking soda.  Easy!  It actually has a very pleasant coconut scent.  I modified the proportions of this recipe.

4. Oil cleansing
I just started using the oil cleansing method for my face.  I've only been doing it for a week, but so far I love it!  If I continue to do this, I will no longer have to buy cleanser, toner, or moisturizer.  Score!  I use this recipe (normal skin version).

5. Stock up
Like I mentioned, I buy my makeup about once a year.  I order mineral makeup online and use it 'til it's gone.  I purchase mascara in twin packs (it's cheaper that way).  We buy toothpaste once a year (Target always puts big packs on sale in January), again, saving money because it's in bulk.  I bought a huge amount of hand soap before we got married, and we're still using that stash!  Once it's gone, I will probably start making my own.

6. $.59 teeth whitening
I used to buy teeth whitening strips for upwards of $20 a box (before I was married).  I have since learned that the active ingredient in those strips is Hydrogen Peroxide, which you can buy by the bottle for around $.59.  Swishing with Hydrogen Peroxide for a few minutes each day can brighten your teeth!

7. Free samples
I always sign up for free samples of toiletries and other personal care items.  When we're packing for a trip, we always have a travel size toothpaste, deodorant, body wash, etc. ready to go!  I know they're only $1 each, but it can add up quickly.  We also bring home the complimentary shampoos and soaps from hotels when we travel so that we can use them for the same purpose.  All of our sample sized toiletries stay in our guest bathroom so that when guests come they have an assortment of toiletry items to use if they forgot theirs! 

8. Cloth pads
Okay, first of all, don't knock it 'til you try it.  I use cloth pantiliners for everyday use.  I never thought I would use cloth pads, let alone blog about it, but here I am.  Check out that link and email me if you have questions (I'm still a little shy talking about it in such a public way)!

9. Dollar store shopping
Many times, dollar stores are great places to find cotton balls, q-tips, etc. for cheaper than you could get them at Wal-mart.  I'm sure it depends on your area and what stores you have, but we often find great deals at the Dollar Tree!

10. Haircuts
I cut Tad's hair (speaking of which, he's due for one!).  My mom cut my dad's and brothers' hair, so I learned from her.  I don't get regular haircuts (I figured out recently that I've only gotten 4 since we've been married... averaging one every 8 months), but hopefully in the future we'll be able to work it out financially so I can get one every 3 months.

11. Use it up
We try our best to use up even the last little bit of products before opening a new one.  For example, we have a little game where Tad and I try to use every possible bit of toothpaste from the tube.  It's rather competitive.  I'm winning by 3 (not that we keep score or anything).  You'd be surprised how long a tube can last after you think it's "out"!

12. Conditioner as shaving cream
Here's one last random tid-bit for you. After I put conditioner on my hair in the shower, I use what's left on my hands to shave my legs.  It's quick, easy, and practically free (since you're just using the conditioner that's left on your hands), plus it makes your legs super soft.

I might be forgetting something... but I think this is a pretty thorough list for now!

One place I don't skimp?  Toilet paper!  I buy brand-name, soft and fluffy toilet paper.  Sometimes I use a coupon, but usually I forget.  :) 

**In case you're wondering why I don't play the "drugstore game," I address that in this post.

So... do tell... how does your family save money on personal care items?

Linking to:
Life as Mom

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Prep Work

We're busy this week getting preparations together for an upcoming youth mission trip!  We'll be running a VBS at Tad's home church in Richmond this summer and we are well on our way to having everything ready!  



We've been making t-shirts, writing out memory verses, shopping for supplies, and making sample crafts.  Our dining room table is covered in t-shirts, jewels, paint, glue, and boxes from Oriental Trading Company.
We are looking forward to our youth getting to serve in this way!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Angela's Chicken Pot Pie

Today I'm excited to have another guest post from my Mom!  (Read her first guest post here.)  Hope you enjoy it!
This was one of the frozen meals brought to Aliesha by Tad's mom and ladies in her church before Codelia's birth.  (Have I mentioned what an amazing MIL Aliesha has??!)  Angela (her sister-in-law) made it for them.  We had it one evening while I was with Aliesha right after the baby.  It was SO delicious...I just had to get the recipe and make it!  It's such a wonderful comfort food!
Angela's Chicken Pot Pie
2 cup chopped, cooked chicken (using half of a Rotisserie chicken makes it super easy!)
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup cooked diced carrots (I just used a little over a cup of mixed veggies)
1/2 cup cooked diced potatoes (idea: make double and use some for potato salad for another meal)
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup milk
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
One batch of a double pie crust (I cheated and used the ready-made Pillsbury in the frozen section---very good, in my opinion!)
Combine chicken and potatoes and veggies in a bowl; set aside.
Melt butter in large skillet or saucepan.  Saute onions.  Whisk in flour and cook till bubbly.
Whisk in broth and milk.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer till sauce is thickened.  Stir in seasonings
Line bottom of casserole dish with one pie crust.  Put chicken and veggies in and cover with sauce.  Put second pie crust on top, crimping edges and venting top.
Bake at 375 degrees for one hour or until crust is light brown.
Serve with a salad and some fruit---home cooking at its best!!
 Enjoy!

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For more of our family's favorite recipes, click here.

Linked to:
Tasty Tuesday
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday
Tuesdays at the Table
Tatertots & Jello

Monday, June 18, 2012

Father's Day Festivities

Tad and his two girls
Most of our Father's Day festivities yesterday revolved around food, since that's one of Tad's love languages.  :)

We started off the day with a bouquet of bacon roses (inspired by Our Best Bites) and a note that said:
"Hey Dad! What's shakin'? We just want you to know we love you more than bacon!"
We had lots of other yummy food throughout the day.
roasted garlic mac 'n' cheese with garlic bread for lunch
bacon encrusted pork tenderloin for dinner

brownie bite parfaits with freshly whipped cream
How did you honor the men in your life yesterday?

Summer Recipes

Kate from Modern Alternative Mama just released a brand new eBook ... Simply Summer!  It is filled with over 30 recipes that are perfect for summer cooking, grilling, and entertaining.  Many of these recipes are free of common allergens, plus they are made using fresh, real food ingredients.

Over the weekend, I had a chance to look at the new eBook and I have to say, I am impressed!  Many of the recipes are ones that I cannot wait to try out in my own kitchen (see the Table of Contents here).  I couldn't wait to try the Salted Caramel Ice Cream, so we made that on Friday.  It is delicious!!  I'm hoping to make the Citrus Iced Tea, Pita Bread, Garlic Vinaigrette, and Strawberry-Peach Ice Cream soon!

Here's what Kate says about her book:
"Anyone who's looking to do more seasonal, local cooking that keeps it simple and doesn't heat up the kitchen too much will love this book.  The recipes are also very appropriate for taking to parties and barbecues to share.... There is no more perfect book for summer eating."

This beautifully designed eBook is just $7.95, but here are some coupon codes for you so you can get a great deal on this new book!  Hurry, though, because some of them expire quickly.

*SUMMERFOOD50, which gives the first 50 buyers 50% offThis will go really fast!
*SUMMER35, which will give buyers 35% off through Tuesday, 6/19.
*SIMPLY20, which will give buyers 20% off through Friday, 6/22.

Check out Simply Summer here!

Disclosure: I received a review copy of Simply Summer. The links in this post contain affiliates, which means I earn a small percentage if you choose to purchase this book.  All thoughts expressed in this post are my own honest opinions.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Ways We Save Money: Basic Stuff


I'm starting a new series here at Feathers in Our Nest.  I want to share with you some of the ways that our family saves money, not so we can save thousands each year in a bank account or take dream vacations, but truly so we can make ends meet.  This is not to make anyone feel guilty who doesn't economize in these ways, but to encourage you in several ways.

First, I want you to know that if you are struggling financially, there are other people out there who are struggling to keep afloat as well.  We can provide support and encouragement to one another, as well as share practical advice for ways to be better stewards of our finances in our own families.

Secondly, I want to encourage women who would like to become stay-at-home moms, either now or in the future, that it IS possible to live on only one income.  You will probably have to cut back in certain areas and not live at the same "level" as many of your friends, but it is entirely worth it and doable.

I'll say it again... these posts are not meant to discourage you if you would like to be saving more money but just can't right now.  We ALL have limits, whether those limits be on our time, our creativity, or our physical location or capabilities.  For example, you may be able to "play the drugstore game" and get all of your toiletries for free (and even make money!).  I am not able to do this because of where we live.  The town near us is 12 miles away and has one chain drug store.  It just doesn't make sense for me to clip coupons and make special trips every week to a part of town I am not normally traveling to.  (That's just one example, but I'm sure there are many other examples of limitations.)

So... without further ado, here are some basic ways that our family saves money.

1. Cable
We decided before we were even married not to have a TV, period.  This may be shocking to some of you, but we weren't raised in families that watched a lot of TV in general, so we don't even "miss it."  We aren't morally opposed to someone having a TV, of course, but we have chosen not to have one.  We still watch things on our computers (DVDs from Redbox on rare occasions, and online with Hulu or Amazon Prime), but we don't have to shell out money each month for a cable bill.  We also have the added benefit of more time spent together as a family and as a couple, and more time to read, play games, and do creative projects!

2. Used Cars
By God's provision, we have paid cash for all of the cars we have owned.  We don't have any debt on these cars, so that saves us another payment each month.  We certainly have had our fair share of car trouble, but we know people who have purchased new cars who still experience the occasional breakdown.

3. One Car
For almost two and a half years of our marriage, we had only one car.  We needed a new vehicle when Cordelia was born because the car we had could not fit all four of us.  Tad still uses that car to drive to work, since it gets great gas mileage, but I could see in the future us possibly going back to one vehicle if we needed to.

4. Utilities
We try to keep our utility bill lower by keeping the thermostat high in the summer and low in the winter.  We try to be content with being a little warmer or cooler than we would prefer in an effort to save money.  We also try to turn off lights we aren't using and turn off/unplug electronics we don't need.

5. No Home Phone
Like many people are now choosing to do, we don't have a home phone.  We both have cell phones (generously part of Tad's parents' family plan), so we haven't had a need for another phone that would cost us probably $20 a month (minimum). 

6. Buying Used
In addition to buying used cars, we also buy used furniture, books, clothing (both for us & the girls), home decor items, toys, baby things, and many other items!  We are not afraid of thrift shops, consignment stores, Craigslist, Goodwill, or yard sales.  I love getting a good deal and I don't mind at all that someone else got to enjoy something before I did!

7. DIY
I'll talk about this more in upcoming posts, but if we are capable of doing it ourselves, we usually learn how to do it (thanks, Google!).  Tad has learned a lot about plumbing since buying a 90-plus-year-old house, and he has also repaired dryers and fixed cars.  I don't think he'll mind me saying that he's not a "fix-it man" kind of guy... or at least he wasn't. :)  I've learned to persevere in sewing even though I don't love it in order to make clothing, gifts, and things for our home that we otherwise wouldn't be able to afford.  We're becoming better painters since the cost of hiring a painter for our house would be prohibitive.

Well I think that's a good start!  I can't wait to share more money-saving ideas with you soon!

What are some big ways your family saves money on monthly expenses?

Affectionate

Vera is learning how to properly display her affection for Cordelia.  Gently patting her on the head can sometimes lead to hitting (though it's rarely intentional) and cuddling can sometimes lead to squishing. 

I know she loves her little sis'... she is just learning how to show it... gently!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Morning Sweetness

Cordelia is so sweet and happy first thing in the morning.  I love cuddling with her and seeing her chubby little face in the soft morning light.
 
 
 
 
Can't resist that adorable grin!
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