Reviving Motherhood

Learning on the Journey


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Non-food Treats

image: pinterest

Whether you have food limitations or you just don’t want to focus too much on food as a reward, it’s always great to have some treats that aren’t to eat.  Here is a list the kids and I came up with.

A walk or bike ride

Library

Bubble bath

Read aloud

Board game

Soccer or other outdoor game

Coloring page

Dance party

New iTunes

Sing-along

Dollars in the movie jar (add money as a reward, and then go see a movie when there is enough)

Craft

Have a friend over

Thrift store or garage sale trip

Picnic

Water games

Tea

Hide and Seek

Make Art

Back rub

Bird watching/nature walk

Fishing

Gardening

Painting nails

Any other ideas?


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31 Days to a Kitchen You Love

We’ve all heard, I suppose, that the kitchen is the heart of the home. And traditionally it was. These days it’s more likely to be the place where we pour a bowl of cereal or zap a premade meal in the microwave.

But for those of us with a few kids who want to feed our families healthfully or have special dietary needs, the kitchen becomes a place where we spend a LOT of time. So why shouldn’t it be the heart of the home, the best place in the house, the place where people are drawn to hang out and where we love to cook? We’re going to spend many hours there each day anyway; why not make it a place of blessing, abundance, and beauty? The place where conversations happen and memories are made?

I’m joining The Nester and her friends for 31 days of posting. Each participant chooses her own topic. Mine is 31 Days to a Kitchen You Love. This comes at a perfect time for me, since I had already planned to revamp my kitchen while spending almost nothing. A remodel would be nice, but until then I want to make the best of the kitchen I have, even if it’s not perfect. Truly, I have a great kitchen in size and shape. Before baby was born I did quite a bit of organizing, but in the ensuing chaos of learning to live with 5 small children, it’s quickly fallen into disarray. Over the next month I’m looking forward to doing some small thing each day to make it work better, and to make it a prettier and more fun place to be. And each day (fingers crossed), I’ll write a bit about it.

After all, the journey I haltingly chronicle on my sporadic little blog is what I learn about being a better mom, and that includes even the “have to,” mundane parts of life like tidying the pantry. But it’s much more than that. I want to become a better and more organized cook, I want to learn more how to nourish my family well, and how to nurture and disciple them in the small, daily bits of life, even while we’re cooking supper or washing dishes. The kitchen can be a place of disorder and drudgery, or it can be a sanctuary of worship as we practice God’s presence in the everyday and ordinary. I love the way Ann Voskamp says it…Because all of life flames with God…

Will you join me?

Day 2: Window Treatments

Day 3: Cleaning up the Window, plus Chicken Spinach Salad w/Honey Lime Dressing Recipe

Day 4: Countertops, Inspiration via Nigella Lawson, and a thought about kids in the kitchen

Days 5 and 6: Hey friends, I haven’t forgotten about 31 days. The past couple have been insane, but there is so much going on in my mind and heart that I want to share asap! I had to download the wordpress ap just so I could write this update since I can’t even get to the computer…hopefully tomorrow! Ironic that just when the thoughts begin to flow, I am hindered! Bear with me please!

Day 7~Just trying to breathe today, I shared a couple lovely kitchen links!

Day 8: Love Jesus.  Love People. 

Day 9: Oops!

Day 10: Make Nontoxic Cleaners

I’m afraid I’m failing miserably at my attempt at 31 days, so I’m going to delete my button from the link-up.  I’m glad I did it but my posts have been sub par.  What I’ve learned through this is that I don’t have time to blog daily no matter how much I want to, and I’d rather have quality poss less often than obligatory posts every day.  Thanks for reading!


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Thrifty Curtains


Excuse the horrible picture quality.  I’m such a novice with my camera.  But I wanted to talk a little bit about thrifty decorating.  DISCLAIMER: I’m no decorator, as anyone who has been to my house can tell you.

I’m learning.

I have never been good at decorating, first because I just didn’t know how, and secondly because I didn’t feel I could justify the cost.  I wrote once about how I spent a lot on some bedroom drapes once and vowed never again.  I have read a lot of blogs by women who have created beautiful homes on the cheap for their entire lives (one of my favorites is The Cultivated Nest).  They encouraged me that I could do it too, so I started trying to think outside the retail box.   At Christmas I created some pretty window treatments with clearance curtains and ring clips and I was happy with the change but it was a lot of red.  For $9 I could live with it, though.

The other day I was at the thrift store.  Yes, I shop there.  I will have to write a post one day about coming out of the thrift store closet.  I have found so many treasures (often new with tags) for pennies on the dollar.  Anyway, Tuesday the ladies were putting out their new stock and one of them asked me “Are you looking for curtains?  These just came in.  They’re $12.”

Well, I wasn’t sure but I grabbed them anyway.  Nice curtains and drapes go quickly at the thrift store and I wanted to have them in my hands in case anyone else was looking too!  In the end I decided that since these curtains would go well in our room and they were clean and in perfect condition, I’d shell out the $12.

I’m SO glad I did!  I washed them and hung them the next day.  They were too thin and filmy to block out as much light as I needed, so I did sew a double lining on the back, using flat sheets I had.  (My kids hate sleeping with flat sheets, so yay me, when I buy a sheet set I have extras for projects like this.)

There’s no real profound purpose to this post except to encourage you all that we can make pretty changes in our homes that don’t cost a lot.  I constantly hear women say “I can’t decorate because I don’t have much money.”  I am realizing that is not true!



While I was at it I gave the rest of my room a mini makeover, mostly just decluttering and changing a few items from darks to light, neutral colors.  Let me tell you about this rocking chair.  When my oldest was born, a friend gave it to me.  She had used it in her son’s nursery.  (He is in high school now!)  My babies and I have logged MANY hours in this chair!  The denim upholstery had become faded and worn and didn’t match anything else I had, and I thought about replacing it.  But since this little one is our last, I wanted to use it for sentimental reasons.  It’s sweet to rock my littlest fella in the same chair I’ve used to rock all my other babies.

Throwing a (wrinkled) sheet over the chair works and extended the life of my favorite rocker.  So again–cheap and easy.  I like it and that’s what matters.  I’m no designer, but I’m trying to keep open eyes for inexpensive ways to make home a pretty, comfortable place for my little family.  To me, that’s the fun of homemaking!



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Ten Minute Creativity

As beings made in the image of God, we share the creativity of the one who made the universe.  I don’t know about you, but when I don’t get a chance to be creative, I get downright cranky.  The problem is that this happens pretty often, since I’m a busy mom.

Solution: Find something I can do in just a few minutes, or a few minutes at a time.  I’ve never had time to make any of my babies a quilt, although quilting is one of my favorite activities.  This time around, I made a very simple strip quilt and machine quilted it.  No measuring, no pattern, just one piece of fabric that was the right size for a crib quilt, strips of fabric sewn together for the front, sewed it together like a pillow case, and turned it inside out.  I added a tiny bit of simple hand embroidery, but altogether I probably spent no more than 2 hours total on my project, 10-20 minutes at a time.  It was so rewarding!  It wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t like something a real quilter would do, but it made me happy to find a way to make something for my little one.

Here are a few other things you can do in 10 minutes:

Spray paint a picture frame or some other item.

Knit or do some other hand work (crochet, embroidery…) while you visit with your husband, child, or friend, talk on the phone, or wait for an appointment.

Journal for a few minutes before you go to sleep.

Create a simple centerpiece for the dining room table.

Plant flowers

Sew a small item (such as a pillow cover) that requires only straight lines and minimal measuring and detail work.

I know this is just the tip of the iceberg!  What are your favorite quick, creative things to do?

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Quick Creativity: Pillows

For years I created daily.  Then my life got busy and I didn’t create at all.  I didn’t think I had time.  But part of me withered.

Lately I’ve decided to make time.  Even if it’s just 10 minute snatches, which it usually is.

I’ve started looking for very quick projects, with shortcuts, straight lines, pre-finished details, like hems.   I love upcycling items like cloth napkins and old clothes so I can take advantage of the hems and selvages that are already there.

I wanted to lighten up my living room for spring and summer.  What better place to start than with pillow covers?

I made this one from an old Lands’ End shirt.  Yes, I cut up a perfectly good shirt to make a pillow cover.  It was a maternity shirt, though, which I will hopefully never need again.  The fabric is SO thick and a soft, cozy jersey.  I just laid my existing pillow on top, lined up the bottom with the hemmed edges, traced, and cut around it.  Then sewed up the three raw edges and added buttons.  I really love this one!

I saw a pillow like this on someone else’s blog.  I don’t remember where.  It’s not perfect but I still love it.  I made the ruffle from scraps of the shirt, so it kinda…matches?  Coordinates?  The jersey doesn’t ravel so I didn’t finish the edges (probably wouldn’t have finished the edges anyway).  The white fabric is 2 cloth napkins that I bought inexpensively and will never use.

This one is also not an original idea.  Do you know that the S is just colored on with sharpie?  How tacky and brilliant is that?  There are people who are even selling sharpie pillows!  I made this one out of fabric I already had.  I didn’t hem it.  I just left selvages on the open end.

This one took longer.  I was scrounging for some more fabric from my stash and found this thick, oatmeal flannel that I love.  I don’t know how it will hold up though.  It’s a loose weave and I noticed that the seams are already looking strained.

I only spent a few minutes at a time working on these, and I hardly measured anything.  I just took a risk and hoped for the best.  I kept remembering that it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.  Afterward I was so satisfied!  There was one that didn’t turn out so well (not pictured) but I’m going to work on it a little and see if it can be salvaged.  If not, oh well, I’m out zero dollars and only a few minutes of time.

How about you?  How do you manage to fit creativity into your days?

 

Linking to White Wednesday.


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10 on Tuesday

I’m copying Payton again.  Go read her great blog.  She’s hilarious and I love it!

1.  Today my son was supposed to start memorizing a poem for English. It was the Mother Goose rhyme “Once I Saw a Little Bird.”  He was completely unimpressed.  Apparently this poem was not nearly cool enough for him.  One of the great things about homeschooling is the ability to tweak curriculum if it doesn’t fit the need.  Now I could make him memorize the little bird poem, but why not choose something more inspiring?  Like this…More challenging, but definitely a little grittier than Little Bird.

Stick to It (by Edgar Guest)

Stick to it, boy,

Through the thick and the thin of it!

Work for the joy

That is born in the din of it.

Failures beset you,

But don’t let them fret you;

Dangers are lurking,

But just keep on working.

If it’s worth while and you’re sure of the right of it,

Stick to it, boy, and make a real fight of it!

Stick to it, lad,

Be not frail and afraid of it;

Stand to the gad

For the man to be made of it.

Deaf to the sneering

And blind to the jeering,

Willing to master

The present disaster,

Stick to it, lad, through the trial and test of it,

Patience and courage will give you the best of it.

Stick to it, youth,

Be not sudden to fly from it’

This is the truth,

Triumph may not lie far from it.

Dark is the morning

Before the sun’s dawning,

Battered and sore of it

Bear a bit more of it,

Stick to it, even though blacker than ink it is,

Victory’s nearer, perhaps, than you think it is!

Old fashioned?  Yep, but true.

2.  Speaking of little boys and learning, I was completely encouraged by a couple of Anna’s posts.  I know, I linked to her last week too.  Here she mentions a proud mom moment as her son is a National Merit Finalist.  She also mentions that he was a late bloomer academically, reading at 8 and writing at 13.  In response to all the questions she received, she wrote this follow-up post. Because Anna is highly educated (a lawyer, practicing until recently) and she’s raising well-educated children to are excelling in their fields of interest and gifting, I sit up and take notice when she gives advice about homeschooling.

3.  My sister posts about home birth. I’ve had 5 hospital births with experiences that have ranged from decent to really good, but I’m still a bit jealous.  My dream birth would be in the hospital attended by a midwife.  The best of both worlds, IMO.  Since I’m probably done having kids I don’t have to worry about it any more, but it’s a nice thought.

4.  I made Darby’s chewy oatmeal bar recipe this weekend. They turned out pretty well.  I used almond butter, and they set up nicely.  A little too sweet, probably because I didn’t have all the extra nuts that would have boosted the protein.  I may try to cut back on the honey a little next time.  But overall, they were the best granola bars I’ve tried to date.  Insta-breakfast.  These days I’ll take all the help I can get.  Here’s another granola bar recipe I’m going to try soon.

5.  I love vintage art and illustrations, obviously.  I wonder if other people find these pictures annoying.  I can never remember which ones I have used, though, so the same ones might pop up over and over.

6.  Sweet baby is falling into a newborn routine of sorts. It’s something like, be happy and sleep all morning.  Be grumpy all afternoon.  At night, don’t cry, just grunt, squeak, and wiggle enough that no one else can sleep.  And get as many hugs and snuggles as possible.  Precious, precious.  At number 5 I just remind myself that the newborn stage only lasts for a few weeks.  And I remind myself to go to bed early.  Hitting the hay at 9 last night made all the difference in my state today.  I don’t know how most moms are, but if I don’t get something that resembles enough rest I cry and get headaches.  Not good for anyone.

7.  Right now I don’t have enough time to clean or do laundry adequately.  I’m thankful for my sweet helpers who keep it from getting too terribly out of hand.  I certainly don’t have time to decorate.  But I still love to peek at decorating blogs.  Lately I’ve been starting here, at Buckets of Burlap, and going through her blog roll.  I’ll open a few windows and take a quick look when I sit down with little one, or when I need a rest break.

8.  I’m not very good at commenting on other blogs. I have good intentions, but most of the blogs I read are on my feed reader, which I read on my iTouch, and I don’ t manage to hop over to the blog proper and leave a comment.  So consequently, I suppose I’m mostly talking into a void.  I should do better about this, because  it would be good to tell other writers how they have encouraged me.  I know I appreciate it when people leave kind comments.  That said, if you are a busy mom, feed readers are great.  I have used Bloglines and Google Reader, and I like GR best by far.  Their tagline is ” keeping up with your favorite websites is as easy as checking your email.” and it’s true.  It’s all in one place instead of hopping all over the internet.  I can read the things I want to keep up with in just a few minutes a day.

9.  Today my daughter got several missionary biographies from YWAM publishing. Highly recommend.  I read the story of Rachel Saint awhile back and couldn’t put it down.  As our children learn to enjoy reading, I think it’s important to give them reading material that’s going to encourage them spiritually.  Of course, my kids read “candy” books too.  But missionary biographies are great adventure stories that can get our kids thinking about important things.

10.  I guess I’m easily impressed, but I am just blown away by all the creativity the world of blogs has put at our fingertips.  As I read through decorating and craft blogs, sometimes I just think how amazing it is that God has made us in his image, reflecting his creativity as maker of the universe.  You can look at the work of 5,000 different people and not one is exactly the same, whether it’s in photography, wordcraft, ideas, decorating, or making things.  So inspiring.  I guess that’s kind of cheesy, but I think about it all the time.


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Bargain Shopping: Holiday Clearance Edition

One of my favorite times to get bargains is post-holiday clearance sales!  Holiday items quickly go down to 75-90% off and you can get amazing deals.  Sometimes I buy holiday items to use the following year.  But truthfully, my favorite post-holiday shopping is when I find items that can be re-purposed to use all year long.

A few recent examples:

A fuzzy white throw for the living room–$5.  It came with a snowman pillow which I didn’t like, but I’ve been on the hunt for a white throw for awhile.  I recovered the pillow and used it in another room.

Bedroom curtains. They weren’t really curtains.  They were cranberry-colored Christmas tablecloths.  But with ring clips and tie-backs, they are now curtains.  $2.99 a panel.

Gift bags and wrapping paper. Valentine’s Day sales are great for these, especially if you have little girls who get invited to birthday parties.  Hearts are just for Valentine’s Day, seriously?  I got some adorable pink heart bags with pink polka dots for 50 cents at Target.  (I would post a pic but I don’t know how to load pictures from my new camera yet.)  Actually, anything hearts is on clearance after Valentine’s Day–so cute with so many uses!

 

The applications are truly endless!  What are your favorite post-holiday bargains?