Friday, November 28, 2014

Streamlining Christmas Shopping for My Children

As you read this, I may or may not be Black Friday shopping. I haven’t decided yet as of the time of this writing. J

I went once, many years ago, by myself, in the dark and the cold, before I started drinking coffee…. It was lonely, and I never wanted to go again.

But now I have two teen girls who want to go with me. We could talk as we drive and people watch and drink hot chocolate. Together.

Relationship-building, not just shopping.

But I’m also thinking of going because my husband and I have streamlined our gift-giving decision-making process. Last Christmas, we gave each child only four gifts. I had found on Pinterest that cute {and convicting!} image that suggested each child receive something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.

Four gifts per child at Christmas = plenty!

{This pin on my Pinterest board includes a link to a blog called Ladies Holiday, but I can't find their original post with this image. If you know how I can better give credit for this idea and image, please let me know.}

There’s plenty of creativity in those categories, though.

Something they want ~ Only your budget is the limit! J
Something they need ~ Cute stationary? Spiderman undies? Snow boots or pants? A kindle? A purse or bag?
Something to wear ~ Shoes? Fashion boots? A watch? A Lilla Rose hair accessory? A crossbody bag? That snazzy jacket they’ve been wanting?
Something to read ~ A magazine subscription? A cookbook? A kindle? A library card?

Have fun brainstorming!


While we’re on the topic of Black Friday, I want to let you know of a couple of great online deals. {Affiliate link ahead. J}

First, Amazon, for this weekend only, has Kindles marked down to $49! My oldest daughter has been on the fence about getting one, but she’s finally decided that it would be good for traveling and taking advantage of all the free and marked down books available. She’s been wanting to get one with her own money, but at that price, I think I’ll make it a Christmas gift. Would you keep the secret for me? J 

Second, the Lilla Rose Black Friday sale goes all weekend, and everything is on sale! Any of those beautiful hair accessories would fit in the categories of something you need, something you want, or something you wear. J

Shop my online store here.

Have a terrific weekend!

Are you Black Friday shopping? Or staying home in the warmth? Or decorating for Christmas?

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

How to Prepare Meals without an Oven, Range, or Microwave

You know what happens when you tell people that your family of eight doesn't have an oven?

The mouth drops open large enough to fit a submarine sandwich.

Since we moved in two weeks ago, we haven't purchased an oven/range or a microwave. So far, no one's starving.

We've joked about being the Ingalls, but I told my husband that I am not cooking over an open fire.
J It seems primitive not to have an oven or stovetop, but we're finding it to be a great challenge. First, I'm just not ready to spend the money. Maybe it'll be our Christmas gift to us. Maybe we'll find a scratch-and-dent that’s been marked down. Second, I'm really enjoying the creativity of working around it.

We do like sandwiches and fresh vegetables, but that's not all we're eating. Here's how ~

Crock-pots. It is amazing what you can do with a crock-pot. Just google or hop on Pinterest, and you'll soon see the possibilities are endless. We have three of varying sizes, and until we buy the oven/range, they have a permanent residence on the countertop. Crock-pots aren't just for chicken breasts or meatballs, though. What about oatmeal? Chili dogs? Beef and cheese dip? {Did you know you can brown ground beef in the crock-pot?} Chocolate almond bark for dipping? Rice? Biscuits? Well, we haven't been brave enough to try that yet, but soon, I think.

Coffee maker. My husband and I drink coffee in the morning, but it's also a great way to make tea by placing tea bags in the filter. Then, you could drink your tea hot, or make the amount in the pot super-strong so you can add water and ice to make it iced tea. When the filter is empty, you can run plain water through the maker and simply heat it. We've found this works well for instant hot cereals.

Toaster. English muffin pizzas. Hot sandwiches, like ham and cheese. Toast with a slice of co-jack melted on top. Warming up leftover pizza. Biscuits, a few at a time.

Waffle maker. You don’t even have to make waffle batter if you’re in a hurry. Roll out a biscuit and pop it in. J

Electric skillet. We inherited ours from my husband's grandmother nearly fifteen years ago, but it still works well. Just this weekend, I put scrambled eggs in one half and sausage in the other half.

And Thankgiving? Large turkey in the roaster. Green bean casserole and mashed potatoes in slow cookers. Store-bought Hawaiian rolls. Fresh vegetable tray. A no-bake double-layer pumpkin-and-cream-cheese dessert.

Bon appetit!

What do you fix without an oven, range, or microwave? This blogging community would love to read your suggestions in the comments. J Thanks!

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Friday, November 21, 2014

The One with Pacemakers, Laundromats, and the Library ~ Homeschool Week Wrap-Up

Are you glad it’s Friday, friend? J

What a week we have had!

About the time that last Friday’s weekly wrap-up was posting, my mom went into congestive heart failure and was rushed to the ER. She had been in atrial fibrillation for nearly a week, but her heart rate had come down to normal when her lungs began to fill with fluid. After three different breathing treatments, she was finally breathing comfortably again and was admitted to the hospital.

Last Friday evening, we drove the hour there and the hour back to visit. When we left, Mom was well and expecting to go home the next day.

Saturday, we picked up our annual quarter of beef as well as the quarter of beef my husband’s parents purchase {an hour there and an hour back}. As they were visiting, Mom called to say that she had gone into AFib again that morning. I barely recognized her gravelly, exhausted voice. She wouldn’t be going home after all.

Over the weekend, we also had to face the fact that our washing machine was broken. We have had it for eight years and never moved it, and it didn’t even occur to me to read the manual for moving instructions. Turns out that the lid is supposed to be taped shut so that the lid lock mechanism doesn’t get damaged.


Monday morning, we took school to the Laundromat. It turned out to be fairly fast and stress-free, thanks to humongous washing machines and an incredible indoor play area.

Monday afternoon, we picked up my husband at work and headed to the hospital again. Mom was still in AFib, and the doctors were discussing {again} a pacemaker. As much as I hated to see Mom go through this, it was an interesting learning experience for the children. The 14yo has been studying the heart and its many possible issues in health, so her recent lessons were spot-on. We were present for a doctor visit/exam and asked him about his education. {Harvard!}

Tuesday, we hurried through some school at home and packed up the rest to get to the hospital. Remember that hour drive? Mom had a pacemaker put in that afternoon, and the procedure went well. We were there long enough to watch the day nurse try two times for an IV stick as well as to interview the night nurse about his education and plans for the future. We also helped Mom wash her face and comb her hair before bedtime.

By Wednesday morning, we were exhausted. I hate to mention our timing, so suffice it to say that waking up was nearly impossible. We tried to keep a normal day with church that evening.

Thursday, we returned to our library day. Mom finally went home Thursday afternoon, feeling better and looking forward to resting in her own bed.

Whew! J

I’m reading…

Conveniently Wed by Angel Moore. What’s cool is that I know Angel in real life! I met her at a writing conference last year, and she is one of the sweetest, most encouraging people I know. This is her debut novel with Love Inspired Historical, and she’s good! Her book officially releases in the December bundle from LIH, and you’ll probably be able to find it at your local Wal-Mart or K-Mart as well as a book store or Amazon.

Building our home this week…

Still unpacking. J Gradually, we’re getting closet shelving up. Purchasing the materials counts as progress, right?

One is done, just the right height for Daddy to play hide-and-seek. J

Thank you so much for your patience with me this fall, dear friend. At the end of September, the Lord used my time at the writers conference to lead me about this blog. He inspired me with ideas and a few changes. Nothing major, just fresh. But then it seemed he put a hold on that. One thing after another has crept up until it's a struggle to find a fresh shirt in the myriad of boxes decorating my bedroom each morning. J So I appreciate your continued reading. My goal here is simply to write, to encourage, and to connect with you.

Prayers for a wonderful weekend! J

How was your week?

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