Monday, December 22, 2008


Every year we usually do Santa Claus pics at the mall. But when Santa sees a flock of girls coming at him all at once he usually gets the deer-caught-in-the-headlights look on his face, so we thought we'd spare him this year! We found this Santa throne in the gym where our church meets, so I convinced Daddy he needed to play Santa this year.

These girls crack me up! They love to play "office" or "school." I had to take a pic of their imaginations at work creating offices out of what they have available to them. Notice the old coffee cups, and later they even added a bowl of candy. Because you know, no secretary's desk is complete without coffee and candy!

This last one is my baby Hope. She has the greatest imagination of them all. Usually she's Shirley Temple, or Curly the Cowboy from Oklahoma. Lately she likes to be a baby named Chocolate Bar. Yep, she's my kid alright! In this pic she's doing what all kids have done at some point or other, turning a cardboard box into something useful. In this case it's a magical barn. (Please ignore the finger nail polish mural in the background!)
When my sister and I were kids we actually built an entire Barbie town in the front room made completely out of boxes. Even though we were desperately longing for the four story Barbie penthouse, I believe we actually had more fun designing a whole town on our own.
So this year for Christmas how about reducing the number of toys and increasing the number of plain old boxes? Sounds good to me!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Thrift Store Decorations

Here's some pretty Christmas ornaments I found at a thrift store a couple years ago. When I found these red and green satiny balls they were stuffed into a couple of gallon sized zip lock bags, but they were in great condition. So I bought them, attached thin wires to the top, strung silver beads onto the wires, then hung them on a long red ribbon. Mahvelous dahling!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Picture Time

Hello there! It's been a while, again. After several calls to AT&T, and a repairman coming out to our house, we finally learned that it was our modem which was bad. Of course it was too old to be covered by warranty so we had to buy a new one. I'm not complaining though, we are actually able to get on the internet whenever we want now and it works fast! :))

What I've been wanting to share was our Christmas pictures I took of the kids in the park. I've never been a fan of professional picture taking places. #1- We could never afford them, they're too expensive! #2- They don't always come out great. And #3- I try to avoid dressing, polishing, then dragging my five kids through crowded stores, not just during holiday time, but ever!

Now, I've always used a 35mm which I LOVE. For years I steered clear of the digital cameras. Whenever my friends would give us pics of their families using a digital camera, the quality was never good and the picture would fade quickly. The problem with my 35mm though was that it was too big and bulky to carry around with me, you couldn't see the picture after it was taken to determine if you needed to redo the shot or not, the film is $5 a pop and to develop it was another $5. And when you have to develop the whole roll, you end up developing unwanted pictures which end up in the garbage. I take alot of pictures so it was getting way too costly.

So I finally broke down and bought a digital camera. I figured technology is better now than it was 10 years ago. I'm happy! I can throw it in my purse to always have on hand, don't have a drawer full of film that needs to be developed anymore, and I get to pick and choose the best pics that I want developed. I can store the pics on my computer and can e-mail them to family (as soon as I figure out how to do it!). But the best thing of all is that a photo editing program came with our computer that lets me crop and enhance the pictures I take, for free! Then I can e-mail the pics to a photo developing place and they'll send me the prints in the mail. I only have the good ones printed. This new way of doing pictures is WAY more time and money efficient than before! I have yet to get the prints in the mail, so we'll have to wait and see about quality, but the pics do look great on the computer (but NOT when on the yellow blog background, sorry). Have a look!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My New Best Friend

I know it sounds gross, and it is, if you drink it straight. The stuff is NASTY! But boy, oh, boy it's wonderful to cook with! I grew up on the stuff as a welfare child since we got it for free, and I only gagged it down to make my mother happy. Needless to say that as an adult I had a strong aversion to it. But one day a question popped into my head, I wonder if it tastes bad if you cook with it? We go through milk fast in our house, my daughter bakes a lot, I make sauces of different kinds for dinners (instead of buying those cute/expensive little seasoning packets!), my husband would love to drink a gallon a day if I let him, and I have five kids.

So, on my next trip to the store I found it in the bulk bin section, it is awesomely cheap! When I got home I mixed up a pitcher of it, cooked with it, and voila! Non-nasty tasting food! Now we keep a pitcher of it in the fridge at all times, and whatever we need milk for (besides drinking plain :p), we use the powdered milk. If you buy it in the bulk bins without instructions for mixing, use 1/3 c. of powder to 8 oz. of water. I add a bit more water when mixing up a pitcher to stretch it a little more, it's just fine.

Oh, it also works, mixed with goat's milk, for feeding rescued kittens found in your wall!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

One Thousand Gifts

"No gift unrecognized as coming from God is at its own best...when in all gifts we find Him, then in Him we shall find all things." -George MacDonald

My thanks to Angela for telling me about this! I am so excited to begin this with the kids.

Ann Voskamp writes, "I am seeing things I have never seen before, atuned and aware of this constant, endless stream of gifts from His hand. I am one waking from slumber....from the stupor of indifference and ignorance. I have sight, fresh and keen---the world is new and full of His gifts."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sweet, Sweet, Magic Pills

Who woulda thought that IRON was so necessary for a body to function properly? I sure didn't, until I couldn't peel myself out of my computer chair to get another cup of coffee! (After all what are kids good for other than tireless coffee makers and blanket fetchers?)
I'm just SO excited to realize that I'm not nearly the lazy bum that I thought I was! Now I can actually do housework rather than sit and dream of a clean house! Yea!!!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Clothing Issues

Ok, since this is supposed to be a blog about making do with what you have, (although I haven't been so faithful to that!), I thought I'd throw this in here.
Having five daughters, I routinely get comments about how I'm going to be sent to the poor house trying to clothe them all when they're teenagers. But I figure that if I can set a few precedents now while they're young, then we'll have fewer issues when they get older. I may be deluding myself on this one, but hey, it's worth a shot! So here's how we do things on one not-so-large-but-perfectly-adequate income:
  1. We home school. Sounds like it doesn't relate to the topic? Well, we don't have anyone to impress on a daily basis do we? Without all that outward pressure to conform we are able to be more content with what God has given us.
  2. We love hand-me-downs. Whether it be from older sisters, or friends of the family, anything new to us is exciting!
  3. We shop at yard sales and thrift stores. This is so fun! The girls love finding treasures amongst what other people have labeled as trash. We're always amazed at what perfectly good things people get rid of, some things still have the original store tags on them! We only buy clothes at Target if we need something specific that we don't already have for a special occasion. But really, we haven't had to do this for a while.
  4. We save outgrown items for the next girl in line even if it's not perfectly "in style" anymore. Oh, and baby dresses make cute blouses for 3-4 year olds!
  5. We mend torn items. This sounds simple enough, but I have a feeling that not many people actually take the time to do this. You can add a couple years of wearable-ness to an item by simply taking a needle and thread to it. Along this same line, you can also sew a cute little patch or embroider a flower over small stains.
  6. We have grandparents who like to take the kids shopping. For some reason they think our kids "deserve" new clothes. Well, if it floats their boat I'm not going to stop them! ;)
  7. We save seasonal clothes. If it doesn't fit one child this winter, it'll probably fit the next child next winter. Time flies by faster the more kids you have, you'll be thankful to be able to pull out that box next winter and be able to find what you need! We go through seasonal clothes twice a year, in the spring and fall. All summer clothes get put away, including flip-flops and bathing suits in the fall. All winter clothes get put away when it's warm enough for shorts (excepting a sweatshirt for chilly evenings). This is cause for great excitement in our house, the kids LOVE doing this so much that they don't mind hauling out ten large totes from the storage shed into the front room!
So there you have it! Take it or leave it as you will, but it works great for our family and trains the kids to be thankful and creative rather than materialistic.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I've Been Tagged!

Yay! My sister-in-law Laurie tagged me for a meme! I've haven't been tagged for anything yet, and I can't think of a better one to do.
"Here's how it works: I am supposed to pick up the nearest book with at least 123 pages, turn to the 123rd page, find the 5th sentence, and then post the three sentences immediately after that."
I have a dilemma though. Patrick (my sweet man!) is studying for his Sunday morning service, so he has books piled all over my desk. I have several GREAT choices, but I'll go with the one that I actually had to push away for elbow room.

"Fourth, don't fear to speak the truth, but be courageous and speak clearly and openly because God is giving close and intimate attention to all you do. Matthew 10:30 means at least that much. Jesus says, 'Even the hairs of your head are all numbered.' In other words, the suffering you may undergo in speaking the truth is not because God is disinterested in you or unfamiliar with your plight. He is close enough to separate one hair from another and give each one a number. Fear not; he is close. He is interested; he cares. Be of good courage, and speak the truth whatever the cost."

Ok, that's a little more than three sentences, but I couldn't help myself! Here's who I tag:

I'm All About the Free Stuff!

Here's a cool giveaway I found out about on Ashley's blog from the Old Red Barn Co. Check it out!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

One Life

I found this on Ann Voskamp's blog Holy Experience. I've heard it before, but it just sunk in for me.

Only one life, will soon be past, only what’s done for Jesus will last.”

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Here's a pretty nifty link I've come across. It's advice shared by more experienced moms for those who are just starting their families. They have some great things to say, I love the sock advice! I don't have nearly as many kiddos as some of these ladies do, but I have learned a thing or two with my little flock of chicks! Be warned though, this is a soapbox of mine! ;)

The first thing I thought of was to teach children to do things for themselves. I don't want my kids to think they can whine at me if they are thirsty and I will immediately stop everything that I'm doing, jump up, run to the kitchen, and get out a cup to pour them a drink! It sounds kind of silly to have to mention this at all, but sadly I see it happening all the time. I believe that's just teaching them to be self-centered and demanding. But I know that with multiple children in the family kids learn to fend for themselves quickly, since mommy is usually occupied with the babies. The older ones learn that if they want something bad enough they better darn well figure out how to do it on their own!

This extends though to nearly every other areas of their lives as well. We need to teach them how to do household chores without having to hover to make sure they do it properly. It's either done or it's not. A couple of weeks ago a friend who has two small kids asked me what I thought a 3 year old was capable of doing around the house. My response was "More than you think!" Putting away their folded laundry, clearing off the breakfast table, picking up after themselves, they really can do many things. It's actually more difficult to teach them how to do some things rather that just doing it yourself, but in the long run you're not just teaching them how to do a task, you're also teaching them to be faithful in the little things.

Schoolwork also goes more smoothly if the kids can read the directions on the page and follow them on their own. I shouldn't have to read a math lesson to my 11 year old if she is perfectly able to read it herself. Most often the case is that she understands it much easier than I do anyway and I'm just hindering her from getting it done quickly! I believe that as soon as a child can read words and comprehend their meaning, they can follow written directions, even my 1st grader can do it.

I strongly believe we are doing our children a great disservice in allowing them to be completely dependent on us, by not giving them the tools they need to run a home of their own. I know many girls who move out of their parent's homes, go to college, or get married, and still don't know how to make a casserole, or wash their white clothes! I was one of them! What good is knowing how to diagram a sentence if they don't know how to balance a checkbook for goodness sakes? Our job as mothers is to train them to be able to live on their own without our help. I think we forget sometimes that there will be a day when they are going to move out and have families of their own. Will they be able to survive without us doing everything for them?

*Deep breath* Yes, that was ranting a bit. This is obviously a daily battle in our home. I barely know what I'm doing as a mother and homemaker as it is, so I'm trying to learn for myself and teach my daughters at the same time. Not an easy thing to do! Children really are very intelligent creatures, able to learn things much quicker than we think. Encourage them to use the brains that God gave them. Teach them how to reason out a problem. Make them untie their own knots! They'll have to learn sometime in their lives as it is, the sooner the better for everyone's sakes!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Happy Halloween! Er... Reformation Day!
Isn't this cute? You can get free pictures to download from . Sign up for the free newsletter and you'll get lots of cute stuff. I've been getting them for about a year now and have several folders full of cute pictures whenever I need them. This isn't an ad or anything, I just like free stuff and thought you all might too!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pony Girl!

My second daughter has a blog now too. Yep, you guessed it, it's all about horses!

Oh dear...

Maybe teaching my eldest daughter to bake wasn't such a great idea after all.


I'm back! Actually I never went anywhere, well, physically that is. I tend to be very irregular and unreliable, so please don't give up on me when I don't post for a while. I've probably jumped to another project, or another, or another...

I've actually been doing a lot of knitting lately. A friend in our home fellowship asked if I'd make her a knitted vest/bolero with cap sleeves with this gorgeous chocolate brown wool. Sorry I don't have a picture of it, but it surprisingly turned out to be kinda cute seeing as how I've only crocheted a baby sweater, once! Here's how dumb I am though. She offered to pay me, which I flatly refused (no, I'm not tooting my own horn here, bear with me a moment!) So she insistently offered to buy me some yarn. Ok, I agreed only if it would make her feel better. I assumed it would be standard craft-store yarn. But no! She had to go to a specialty yarn store and bought me 4 skeins of fancy, scarlet, Peruvian wool! I was so ashamed of myself. Patrick says I'm being unreasonable. But to my way of thinking, she ended up spending more money on the yarn than she would have if I wouldn't have been so stubborn to refuse the cash. I just don't think the work I did on her vest was worth it. Oh well.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Preacher's Daughter

My sweet little baby has her own blog now. After so much pleading on her part that I couldn't take it any longer, I finally gave in. Have a look see :)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Ziggy First

When I was a little girl I attended Christian schools until the 7th grade. Usually during chapel we would sing "Seek ye first the kingdom of God...." It was such a reverent and quiet song, I loved it! The only problem was, I thought the song went "Ziggy first the kingdom of God...." I enjoyed the Ziggy comic strips, but couldn't for the life of me figure out why there was a song about him! I laugh every time I think about it, and wonder what kinds of things my own children misunderstand!

But lately the message of that verse has been coming home to me. I don't naturally seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Instead I fight to obtain all the things that I think should be added unto me. Then I wonder why I struggle so horrendously with my sin. So, if you're wondering why I don't post on here as often as I would like, it's because I'm trying to seek first the kingdom of God.


Sunday, September 7, 2008

Etsy Shop!

Well, I did it! I set up an Etsy shop where I can sell my crafts.
I haven't actually posted anything for sale yet, but I'm all set to go when I do. I wasn't too sure if I should or not, but after reading Proverbs 31 I realized that it was a good thing for a virtuous woman to do (providing she was still able to take care of her household and maidens!).
Proverbs 31:13- "She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands." V. 16- "She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vinyard." V. 18-19- "She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle." V. 24- "She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant." V. 31- "Give her the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates." V. 27- "She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness."
I've been way too idle lately and I'm hoping this will be incentive to get up and get things done!
The cool thing about this is that it doesn't require alot of time or attention. I can do as much or as little as I want at any given time. Yea!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Old Comforter- New Pillow

Ok, I have to admit, I was pretty proud of myself for this one even though it seems so simple. I have and old down comforter which is about 10 years old. The stitching came out and feathers would fly everywhere if you even touched it. We just bought a new one, but I didn't know what to do with the old one. It seemed a shame to throw it away, I don't know why but it did. So I folded the thing up and noticed it would fit into a pillow case. So I pulled out a pillow protector (the kind with a zipper so the pillow won't fall out), and shoved the comforter inside. Then I put it into a pillowcase and voila! We now have a new down pillow that would have cost $40 had we bought it new at the store, it's very comfortable too!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Viva Pinata!

Here's a fun thing I did with the kiddos. But, personally, I think it is NOT a kid friendly project! Faith had a horse themed birthday party a couple weeks ago, so we were thinking up all the possible horsey things we could do. Pinatas are not that expensive, but when you are throwing a big party every penny saved helps. Plus I had never done paper mache before and wanted to give it a try.

I don't have pictures of the whole process of making it, there was paste goop all over the place and I didn't want to get my camera messy!


cardboard or posterboard, you can use paper towel rolls for the legs


masking tape

wire hanger

newspaper- (I had a giant roll of paper from our local newspaper that my mom had given me, so I didn't need to buy any.)

paste- 6 cups water to 3 cups white flour

poster paints

crepe paper

How to:

1. Build the shape you want out of the cardboard, balloons, and tape. Cut the newspaper into 3" wide strips x 10" (whatever is easy for you to work with).

2. Using wire cutters, cut the hanger and bend into a doubled up U shape. Bend the ends out into 90 degree angles in opposite directions from each other. Tape the ends to the form. (If this doesn't make sense, use your imagination!) Our horsey was too fat and heavy for a wire hanger, so we had to wrap rope around it's belly, (see pic.).

3. Mix up your paste, (you don't want it too goopy), and dip the strips of paper one at a time into the paste. Hold the paper over the paste bowl with your left hand, place the top of the strip between the index and middle fingers of your right hand, and run your fingers down the strip wiping off all the excess paste. This is important! If you don't get the excess paste off the paper, the cardboard on your form will get soggy and fall apart. We learned this from experience!

4. Lay the wet strips on your form, overlapping each other and smoothing out all the bubbles and folds. Put about 3-5 layers on your form depending on how hard you want it to be. Add more layers if the pinata is for older, more violent kids.

5. Let dry for 24-48 hours. Cut open slit at top for the candy and pop the balloon. Paint with poster paints and let dry for another day. Tape or glue on crepe paper for hair.

6. Fill with yummy goodness (NOT with chocolate on a hot August day!) And have the kids beat the crap out of it. Take pictures first though, it won't last very long.

7. The kids can use the mangled portions for cute party hats afterwards!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Hankerchief Curtains

I had a dilema. The window in my kitchen gets full morning sunlight that I really don't want to hinder from shining into the kitchen. So blinds or heavy curtains were out of the question. But the window needed something...

What I did have was a bunch of old handkerchiefs from grandmothers passed on. So I got me some wire, a couple of nails, and a handful of clothes pins. And Voila! A very pretty window dressing!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Laundry Detergent

I thought I'd post this too since it saves us a TON of money. About a year ago I searched online for a good homemade laundry detergent recipe. I can't remember exactly where I found this (or else I'd give them credit for it), but it works great!

1/3 bar Fels Naptha or other type of laundry bar soap (I use Lirio.)
1/2 cup washing soda (Not baking. It is a big yellow box, Arm & Hammer brand.)
1/2 cup borax powder (20 Mule Team is what I use, I don't know of any other brand.)

A 2 gal. container to store the mixture in. I had a 2 ga. Coleman ice chest with a lid and handle in my storage shed that wasn't in use which works great.

1. Grate up the bar soap and add to 6 cups water in a sauce pan. Heat and stir till the soap melts. 2. Add washing soda and borax and stir till dissolved, remove from heat.
3. Pour 4 cups hot water into your 2 gal. container, add soap mixture, stir.
4. Add 1 gal. + 6 cups water, stir.

It's as easy as that! Takes about 15 minutes, and is worth the effort. If you let the soap sit for 24 hours it will gel, but you can use it right away too if you're in a pinch, like I usually am!
I use about 1/2 to 1 cup a load depending on the dirtiness of the clothes.

For fabric softener I simply use white vinegar. I always miss the rinse cycle, so I use a Downey Ball. Just fill the ball with vinegar to the line, close it up, and toss it into the washer when you start the load. The clothes don't smell like vinegar when they come out, but they don't have that artificial perfumey-fresh smell either. They're simply clean. It cuts down the static too.

The added benefit of making your own detergent and softener is that it has no dyes or perfumes to irritate sensitive skin. I used to have to buy the expensive detergents because my husband and kids have exzema and broke out in rashes when I used regular detergents. That was expensive! I don't think I'll ever go back to store-bought detergents again.

Now if only I could get my 5 daughters to quit changing their clothes every 1/2 hour, then I wouldn't have so much laundry to do!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Water Fountain

Ok! Here we go!

My first project that I'd like to share is the drinking fountain I built. It actually used to be a water spigot on top of a vertical pvc pipe sticking a foot and a half out of the ground, but of course I had to mow over it, twice! After much flooding and tears (both times), we were able to cap off the ends of both pipes until we could figure out what the heck to do with the thing. We really needed the spigot there to water the chickens and weeds with, and I had always really wanted a water fountain for the kids to drink out of when playing out back. (This was really selfish on my part because they kept leaving my cups outside to be lost and broken.)
The idea came to me to cement the whole thing in so it would be Andi-with-a-lawn-mower proof. But I wanted it to be somewhat decorative too. So I finally decided to just moartar rocks over the top of the pvc pipe.

2 ft. pvc pipe- less than a dollar
misc. pvc fittings- a few cents each
pvc primer and cement- already had some in the garage from my little mishaps
water spigot-$5
fountain head- gift ($40. I never would have bought the thing myself, but when my dad asked me what I wanted for my birthday I told him, "a chain saw and fountain head!" After giving me a funny look he drove me to the store to get them.)
4 bags of moartar- $2 ea.
rocks- abundantly free in my yard

Time: All stinking and sweaty day long, but worth it!

WARNING!!! Always use gloves when working with moartar! I learned the hard way and rubbed some deep, painful sores into my fingers.

Before and after pictures:

Friday, August 8, 2008

Making Do...

Welcome! I'm Andi, a 30 year old house wife with 5 daughters whom I homeschool, and a husband who is the pastor of Sovereign Joy Christian Fellowship here in our town. Needless to say, like most folks, I have found that it behooves our family a great deal if I put some thought into how I run our home.

The Lord has seen fit to give us small means, therefore I believe that instead of pining for things that I don't have, I must strive to be a good steward of what I do have. Because of this, I am constantly seeking what things I can weed out of our lives, things that waste our time, energy, and money in their upkeep. Additionally, I am always looking for ways to cut back on our monthly spending. This has caused me to think more creatively when faced with a need.

I'm not talking about clipping coupons, and driving all over town to find the best deal on a jar of mayonaise. If you do this, more power to you! But I've tried that for a while, and it is extremely time and gas consuming, (not to mention I have to drag several small children around with me wherever I go!), and I've never been able to save more than $10 per trip to the store. Coupons are mainly for brand name items, I always buy store brand which is cheaper than brand name with a coupon. Also, the stores around here are not coupon friendly with double coupon days and such.

I'm also not talking about saving every plastic container, empty toilet paper roll, or twist tie that finds it's way into the house. I've tried that too, only to fill rooms with unused things that would be better suited for the recycle can. I do save some things that I use on a regular basis, like empty milk gallons that we fill with water and freeze for the rabbits so they don't perish in the heat of our 105 degree summers.

What I do is try to anticipate our family's needs and plan for them. Like our clothing issue. With 5 daughters, you can imagine that could quickly turn into a crisis! I've trained them from infants to be excited about hand-me-downs or thrift store clothing. That has gone a long way towards happiness here! I also go through their clothes when the seasons change (twice a year here, cold weather clothes, and hot weather clothes), and cull the stained and torn ones, then pack away the keepers for the next child to wear.

I also try to make gifts as opposed to buying them. I have to admit that I love needle arts! I enjoy embroidery, knitting, sewing and other such things. I am not terribly good at any one particular hobby because I tend to jump around from one thing to another, testing out what I can conceiveably do and what I can't. Some things work, and alas, many things don't! But at least I can say that I'm trying, and I do learn tremendously from my experiments.

So anyway, that is a long introduction to say that this blog really isn't about me, (thank Heavens!) it's just passing on what I learn from friends or experience, and hopefully with some encouragement to those who desperately need it!