Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Staying Warm

I always love to get something for free. Today I get to share the love! Christmas is my favorite time of the year. It's also the busiest, so when January rolls around I like to snuggle up by the fire.

With that in mind I am sharing coffee and a book today. Have you tried Nescafe with Coffee-Mate 2 -in-1 coffee +creamer combo? Just add to a cup of hot water and relax. They sent me a free bottle of French Vanilla. Yum!! (You can print a $.75 coupon here)I like coffee, iced in the summer and hot when the temperature drops. I enjoy an occasional cup of the fancy store bought stuff, but usually make it at home. I like how simple instant coffee is, and tastes so much better than it did back in the 80's when Folger's Crystals was busy "secretly swapping your coffee for ours." Instant is never going to be as good as a French Press, half-n-half, and flavored syrup but it's still a quick, yummy, inexpensive way to warm up.

I'm also including a copy of "$10 Great Dates: Connecting Love, Marriage, and Fun on a Budget" by Peter & Heather Larson and David & Claudia Arp.

Tired of the usual dinner and a movie dates? Looking for new ways to connect with your spouse? Energize your marriage by getting out of your normal routine with the help of these 52 creative date ideas. From outdoor dates to out-on-the-town dates, you and your spouse will have no trouble finding the perfect date that fits your mood- all on a $10 budget! - (excerpt)

Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter:

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Lift Up Your Eyes

**Repost, originally posted on

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. - Genesis 1:1-31

Princeton, MN 10/8/14

This morning I set me alarm for a bit earlier than normal. As the alarm pierced the stillness of the house I quickly silenced it, while saying a quick prayer that My Vet was able to sleep through it. 

Being pretty groggy I decided to quickly check Facebook to see if anyone I knew was already enjoying the crisp morning air so I could stay in my warm bed.

Instead I saw article after article about ISIS, ebola, sexual crimes, and political ads. Happy morning! Aren't you glad you stopped by to read this beacon of joy?

Now that I was awake, I dressed and headed outside, hoping that I would only need to walk a short distance. Immediately I looked up and the stars where bright, and the night sky seemed alive. 

There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Luke 21:25

I knew to look to the West. Nothing but trees. I backed down the alley hoping that would work. Thankfully it did.

I got outside a little early so as I waited, I looked at the sky and sang hymns to myself. The world is full of turmoil, and the US is in trouble. I don't believe the goverment hype, common sense and basic rules of economics all point to a giant Ponzi Scheme/ House of Cards. I could bog down in the minutia of my thoughts, I even started, then realized linking to some great sources would be more efficient and thorough.

I don't present all this to make you afraid. I am just trying to describe the thoughts that were racing through my head as I stood outside on this cool fall morning looking at the sky. As I watched the Lunar eclipse happening I was in awe of the vastness of space. I also couldn't help but think how small all that other stuff was. My God is MIGHTY!

There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven. Luke 21:11

Seriously did anyone else get goosebumps reading that verse? So much bad news from around the world and now 4 lunar and 1 solar eclipses in to Jewish calendar years, falling on Jewish holidays. 

If you aren't excited in anticipation of what God is telling us. watch this video that shows how God has already been using the sky as a ginormous billboard.

The heavens declare the glory of God, and 
the sky above proclaims his handiwork. -Psalm 19:1

I am grateful to live in a time when knowledge is so abundant. We can spend our time learning about any topic imaginable. Just remember that knowledge is not wisdom, wisdom only comes from God.

For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk blamelessly, guarding the paths of justice and preserving the way of his faithful ones.
Proverbs 2:6-8

No matter what battles are happening on Earth I know that the War is won. My hope is in Him. Lest you forget. Step outside look up at the stars and remember the God who spoke them all into existence and alligned them with future events ...

Made You, Loves You, and Wants to be Your Best Friend Forever!

Princeton, MN 10/8/14
Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name, by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing. Isaiah 40-26

The Cup is half FULL

**Originally posted on

My mom taught me that whatever you look to find in the world you will find. I dare you to try it. Pick a number, a color, a car brand etc and see how many you see in the next week. But I digress, this is about why I can see that the cup is half full not half empty.

Cousin Selfie!
This past weekend my aging aunt and uncle and their adult children from Texas decided to make a trip to visit family in SD. As has happened periodically over the years, an email went out from my mom that a family BBQ would be held at a local venue and everyone was invited. Throughout the years the family that lived close would usually make it and maybe one of the cousins from far away would make it. This time everyone sensed something was different so all but one of the 15 cousins from around the country quickly made arrangements to attended.

All was going well, everyone made it safely to town, trays of BBQ smoked ribs arrived from Kansas City, Fried Chicken was delivered from the local grocery store, chairs and tables were arranged, we were set to start the party. Then my mom said she wasn't feeling well and needed to go home. Most everyone accepted that it was the flu and she just needed some rest, but this was highly unusual and had me and my 4 sisters very concerned. After eating dinner, my younger sister excused herself from the party to take the baby to mom's house so she could check on mom. The house was pretty dark so that mom could rest, but that sister's concern was growing.

A few hours later the heat and bugs caused the BBQ to wrap up. Two more of us headed home to check on mom, shortly after arriving she collapsed in the bathroom. We turned on the light to help her and for the first time saw how pale she was. While 911 was being contacted she came around and said "I'm fine" Since she only lives 5 blocks from the hospital, we asked her if she wanted to go there in an ambulance or a car "she responded "I'm fine". In a tone of voice any child with a mom would recognize, my sister informed her "That isn't a choice, Would you like to go in an ambulance or a car?" Hearing the the 911 discussion going on in the background convinced her that we meant business and she chose a car.

This time last year during a girls weekend.
At the hospital, I got mom into a wheelchair and wheeled her into the Emergency Room. Before my sister could park the car, mom was in a room, in a gown, and lying on a gurney. She was quickly diagnosed with internal bleeding and the ER doctor told us that if we hadn't brought her in when we did, she would not have made it through the night at home. It was not lost on any of us that 14 years ago this same weekend we were in this same hospital saying good bye to dad.

After getting her settled in her room and before leaving the hospital, my sister and I got the chance to pray with my mother, we took that moment to cast aside our anxiousness and thank God for the blessings he had already shown in this situation and to make our request of healing known to Him. (Philip 4:6)

How in the midst of this can my cup be half full? The only word that can describe my state of mind throughout was grateful. Grateful that Jehovah Rapha (God who heals) is mindful of us. The number of decisions leading to that night, by so many different people resulted in mom not being home alone, and living.

Back at my mom's house, I needed to pray on my own before succumbing to sleep. When I pray I like to pray through fitting passages of the Bible, I figure what better way to know that I am praying the Will of God than by praying the Word of God? I opened the book of Luke, who better than a doctor to articulate my thoughts? I opened to Luke 7:1-10 in my bible this passage is titled "Faith of a Roman Officer". My motivational spiritual gift is Faith so I've always been drawn to passages on Faith. This title alone flooded my mind with such greats as:

If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. " (Matt 17:20)

Then Jesus answered, "Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted." And her daughter was healed from that very hour. (Matt 15:28)

"Go," said Jesus, "your faith has healed you." Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road. (Mark 10:52)

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- (Eph 2:8)

In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. (Eph 6:16)

Wow I haven't even started to read Luke's writing yet! I started to read and got to verse 8 where the Officer is describing his authority over his soldiers ...need only say 'Go,' and they go, or 'Come and they come... And my mind was flooded again this time with a beautiful verse from Psalm 30:5 There will be pain (weeping) in the night, but joy comes in the morning. I finished the passage and easily fell asleep knowing that she was in the hands of the Master.

By morning the bleeding had stopped and mom was much improved. She still needed IV fluids and a received a total of 7 pints of blood, but she is getting better.

I know that this is only temporary, and one day (far too soon I'm sure) our ending will be far less happy. I also know that regardless of the outcome, God has a plan and God's plan is always good.

If you are struggling to see your cup as half-full, here is a song I heard as I was making the long drive home from my mom's. The Chorus is a great anthem to repeat until you believe it.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Soda not Pop

Recently I was asked if I wanted to receive a free sample of Arm and Hammer Baking Soda. Duh! I go through boxes of that stuff. In return they asked that I provide a product review. They didn't care if my review was positive or negative, just honest. So here is the knock down bare-bones truth about my "trial".

I love Arm and Hammer Baking Soda, really and truly love. When I first took on this assignment I thought it had to be a joke. Who doesn't know and use Arm and Hammer Baking Soda? Google it, there are pages dedicated to the many uses of baking soda. How could a trial change the way I look at it? But who really cares I'm going to get a free box. Woohoo!!

As you can see I was weirdly excited. If you can believe it opening the package was even better. You see inside my delivery was not only a free box of Arm and Hammer Baking Soda, but a cool plastic storage container!

*Update according to the Arm and Hammer Website demand has been so high for the container they are currently out of stock!

I could go on and on about the many uses of Arm and Hammer Baking Soda, but these guys already did. So instead of telling you how you can use it to brush your teeth; relieve heartburn; treat insect bites; soak your feet; clean the floors, oven, microwave, furniture, shower curtains, laundry etc.; treat diaper rash: remove odors from carpet, fridges, freezers, gym bags, garbage cans, dishwashers, etc.; and extinguish fires to name a few I am going to focus on the empty container.

Yep, I'm like a kid on their birthday more entertained with the box than the toy. I didn't even know how much I wanted this thing though. I don't know how you can get one, but they are awesome. I always do a really crappy job of opening my box of Arm and Hammer Baking Soda, and since I don't usually use the entire box at one time, it is super annoying. Now I can pour it into this handy bottle and spoon/sprinkle out exactly how much I need and snap the lid closed.

Sure I could have re purposed a Parmesan cheese container, but I never thought to. Now I don't have too!

Who would have thought I could love this product even more?

**Read my advertising policies here.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Candied Puff Corn

My sister Kristie made this and I had to share it with you. I know the name isn't that original, but she didn't have a name for this recipe and I like descriptive rather than abstract names when it comes to food.

**Warning** do not make if you are eating healthy. You will not be able to stop eating it. 

Now that you have been fairly warned, here goes.

Candied Puff Corn
1 large pkg of puffed corn.
1 11oz pkg of caramels (cut into 1/4)
1 12oz pkg of M&M minis
1 24oz pkg of white almond bark
\1 tbsp vegetable shortening (no substitutions)

Combine first 3 ingredients in the largest bowl you can find.  In a separate microwave safe container break the almond bark into small squares and drop in the spoonful of vegetable shortening. Microwave on high until mostly melted. stir periodically, do not burn, do not add any other thinning agent. (White chocolate is not the same as regular chocolate. ) When it is about 2/3 melted removed from microwave and stir until fully melted. this will keep you from burning it, and it will have time to cool enough that the M&M's won't melt.

Pour white chocolate mixer over the puffed corn, M&M's, and Caramels. Gently stir to coat, then spread out on waxed paper to cool. Serve, keep any extras tightly covered.

(Who am I kidding? Keep it sealed while transporting to party and be discreet when you are at the party and try to lick the bowl clean.)

Monday, June 9, 2014

Chalk Paint

A while back I took a chalk paint class with a friend and I finally got around to finishing the project. It was a nice way to get out and spend some time with a friend. We used a product I had never heard of before.

I've read lots of other blogs about chalk paint and not very impressed. Chalk Paint Powder seemed different. Instead of over paying for a limited number of colored paints. This just mixes in to any latex paint you want.

We painted small wooden trays. I initially tried to paint 2 colors with traditional black on the tray bottom, but I didn't have detail brushes to use and the edges weren't as nice as I had hoped.

After letting the paint dry while we perused the store, we used wax to seal the paint. There is a difference to waxes. The texture and ease of use of Fiddes and Sons was really nice and I would highly recommend for any of your waxing needs.

I used a clear wax on mine for a more modern look. While my friend gave hers an aged look with the darker wax.

I immediately decided that this would be great for my girls to use, and wanted brighter colors than what the class provided. I used some materials that I already had on hand for a quick update.

The tray is an excellent way to corral hand made beads and other jewelry making supplies.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

What Doesn't Kill Me...

Earlier this spring we gave some much needed attention to a large tree in our yard. For years I trimmed as high as I could so that I could mow the lawn without poking out my eye. But it was slowly growing into ours and our neighbor's homes. Something needed to be done. 

While I was away on a field trip with my eldest, several guys with some pretty heavy equipment rolled into the yard and hacked away. In addition to getting the limbs off the houses, they weeded out the sickly and dead branches. 

When I got home that afternoon I was a bit shocked at just how much of the tree they had removed. A few days later the clouds cleared up and My Vet and I went out to deal with the stack of firewood left behind. Then I noticed how much sunlight was shining through.

So many times I have grown limbs that were abruptly removed from my life. Limbs that were so much a part of me, it hurt, I've weeped, I mourn the scars that will always remind me of them. Yet I continue to live and grow new limbs.

It seemed like forever until the leaves started to grow and the wounds started to heal. Now suddenly I see things that I couldn't before, flowers are blooming in new areas, grass is growing. A neighbor was inspired to trim his trees as well, another told me how they could see farther now too.

Whatever you are walking through, whatever fresh wounds you are nursing, keep your eyes on God. He is Good ALL the time, trust in His plan. God made the tree, He certainly knows how to make it grow best. He also sees who is watching you. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

In the Gutters

Now that the long, cold, snowy winter is over.... it's rainy season. Yeah! (Italics of course signal sarcasm.) The best part is that all the rain has brought to my attention that the gutter over the mainly used door, is in serious need of attention.

When you choose to stand in the rain a ways back from the door, reach through the downpour open said door, jump through the downpour of water and close the door behind you might be a redneck have a problem.

While picking up supplies for my last project, I grabbed a few extra gutter hangers. We have long term plans to replace the siding so right now isn't the time to update the ugly old leaky gutters. Instead I opted to make repairs.

You can see in the picture that the gutter sags over the door. since water always runs downhill, it collected in the handy spot over the door, and then spilled over and dripped through the seem. Since it was sagging away from the fascia, water would then run behind the gutter and onto our heads.

A couple of gutter hooks quickly fixed the sag, and tightened it back to the fascia, behind the drip edge.  If you are planning on installing or repairing gutters I highly recommend the invisible gutter hanger over the spike and furrule method of attachment. The gutter hanger uses a long screw to attach, while the spike just gets hammered in. The gutter has to withstand all kinds of weather and pressure, a screw is going to hold up better in the long run. Besides the invisible gutter hanger is just that, invisible from the ground I am calmer just thinking about the smoother cleaner finish.

As you can tell by the photo I also removed leaves and debris while I was up there. I noticed a missing end cap that I will pick up when I return the extra piece from the main gutter project.

** the door on the left is not broken. I have a hanging screen that I use when it's nice out. It keeps away most of the bugs, and at about $10 was cheaper than a custom screen door for french doors. I do gaze at the nicer one with dreamy eyes, but with kids and a dog the screen curtain is functional.

$331 @Lowes (wouldn't that be lovely though?)
$10 @ Walter Drake

Monday, May 19, 2014

In Over my Head?

Last summer I went out with a weekend full of hard work. I am determined to welcome this years hard earned summer by playing more than I work. Since I wanted to expand my garden this year, I got to work early

I started by moving some plants.

My Vet and a friend took care of tilling up, and adding manure to the area I had marked for the expansion.
Looking good, but more than the plants are missing.

With the heavy work done, I power-washed the remaining traces of manure out of the trailer, and picked up some landscape timbers for the edging. 

Pretty straight forward 2 timbers high, with staggered seems, screwed together with galvanized deck screws. At 3 feet by 17 1/2 this new section is large enough for 4 tomato plants, 4 pepper plants and a ton of carrots. The piece in the foreground is darker because it was salvaged from where I cut in to mix the new section with the old.

Since this new section runs along the garage, I needed to tackle the issue of rain water. Water is good for plants, thousands of gallons running of the roof onto small seedlings will kill them. Gutters don't look to complicated, I figure I can tackle it on my own.

I prepped by watching a clip of my favorite show. (BTW what can't Tommy Silva do?)

I took notes as I watched. Hmm, there is more to this than I initially thought. Said goodbye to My Vet and The Girls and off to the store. I picked up all the pieces I figured I would need and headed home.

Assembling the pieces was similar to doing a jigsaw puzzle. Time to permanently assemble. I called My Vet away from working under the New to Us Pickup, so he could show me how to rivet. It was a lot like using my cropadile.

Pre-drill and load the rubber coated aluminum rivet (grommet?) into the hand tool.

Insert into the hole.

Pull the trigger.

Not perfectly aligned! Not visible from the
ground though so OCD should be OK.

Repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat. I am not sure exactly how many I was suppose to do, 4 per seam felt flimsy so I did 6 (2 in the front and 4 in the back).

Give all the joints a water tight seal with joint sealer. (Not really sure how important this is since it will only be in operation when it is raining everywhere, but Tommy said to do it and who am I to argue that logic?) 

Clip in the gutter hangers at regular intervals. (I used 22 for 26 feet of gutter.) Assembly took me about 2 hours. 

With everything assembled on the ground. My Vet came back to lend his strength and hands to hang this light but awkward 26 feet of aluminum.

Self tapping screws anchored the various pieces of the down spout at the rear of the garage. I didn't put in a down spout in the front yet, I am thinking a rain chain would be pretty, so I will keep you posted. I couldn't find a hack saw to shorten the downspout, so My Vet stepped in again.

My Vet rocking his Iowa State shirt.

It doesn't seem like that much work, but I ache and I didn't even get any plants in the ground yet! I am looking forward to the fun part though. The Girls and I will be hitting up some green houses this week. Are you planning on playing or working Memorial Day weekend?

Not sure how well this diverter is going to work,
I'll know in a couple of hours though.

*** Kudos to me, only 1 extra piece needs to be returned to the store!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Joy Ride

The sun has finally come out, and we have been basking in its glow. For the first time this year we dusted off our bikes, checked our tire pressure and went for a long ride through town.

It was great to get back out. Since we live in town, I try to bike most places while the weather is good. I've outfitted mine so I am able to carry small packages and such. This year the girls added baskets to their bikes as well, so they will be able to carry their own treasures.

Riding with young children requires lots of reminders to look for cars, watch out for pedestrians, giving extra space to the youngest riders, and signaling with our hands to talk to both drivers and the rest of our group.

It seems like I've been repeating myself for several years now, but I do catch glimpses of them finally starting to make safe riding decisions.

One practical thing we haven't been doing is locking out bikes. Usually we park them near us, but there have been times that we need go into a building. We've been lucky that we live in a great small town, but I can't help but think we have been pushing our luck. In comes Wordlock they don't just make padlocks, they make bike locks!

Just in time for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 that hits theaters May 2nd. They have provided me with a Spider-Man themed bike lock to giveaway! Perfect for kids (Or just the Marvel addict in your family)

**Read my advertising policies here.

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Lost and Found

I enjoy reading, and now that my kids are no longer babies I find the time to read. I recently got the opportunity to read Sarah Jakes latest book Lost & Found.

It was an engaging retelling of her life thus far. She has made lots of decisions that resulted in a harder life than it needed to be, but shares how she seems to finally come around.

There were some points on how to love our friends and family as they walk through the consequences of their actions. But it seemed more directed at those who are still lost in the detours of their life.

The books biggest disappointment was the lack of scriptural references. Even near the end when she talks about the story of Naomi and Ruth, she references one of her previous books instead of the Bible which was the original source.

Romans 3:23-24 encompasses the entirety of her story.23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Yet the opportunity to share Gods redemptive love in His own words was noticeably ignored.

Never the less she still wrote some lines that really spoke to me.

Just remember when you're dealing with a person who is weary, you don't want your rage to add to their brokenness. You see, most of the time, you don't need someone to tell you you're wrong. You carry the grief of being lost with every turn you make. The last thing you need when you're stranded is someone yelling at you to find your way.

Our sin and shame become a filter that we believe the world sees us through. when really we just reflect onto people that we believe about ourselves.

How can we honor Christ's life if we never explore the depths of His forgiveness or the beauty of grace?

She was saved by the grace her family continued to show her. That grace didn't swoop in to fix her mistakes, or make everything magically better. A simple hug and silent acceptance let her know that no matter what they loved her right now, bumps bruises and all.

I know that it is hard to see loved ones make choices that will make their lives unnecessarily harder. We want to tell them how to fix it, because watching them walk through the consequences is hard. The parable of the prodigal son comes to mind. Stay home and tend to what needs doing, let them endure the consequences, but when they return and repent.. run, be quick to hug, love.
**Read my advertising policies here.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

$5.98 Shade Light

I love the look of shade lights, but I don't love the price. During my basement upgrade I wanted to update the bare bulb hanging from the laundry room ceiling. Since the light has a pull chain, and I really didn't want to do any more electrical work. I thought this would be a great solution.

On a Target end cap I found an inexpensive shade that I liked, inverted it onto the fixture and screwed the bulb back in. 

You might have noticed I need to jazz up the black shoestring pull chain.

I've got an idea, so come back!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

It Must Be Lovely This Time of Year

Good Memories
I have friends all over the country who are using Facebook to show how their gardens are coming along. On Sunday my sister in SD even planted some onions. Why is it everyone just posts the happy parts of their lives online? Studies have shown that too much time looking at these positive postings cause others to become depressed and feel that the grass really is greener on the other side of the fence.

I'm here to tell you it's not. In fact, its covered with deep snow, and there is no sign of green. We even have 2 more days of snow forecasted for this week.

Happy people aren't happy because their lives are perfect. They are happy because they choose to see the world through God' eyes. I have my seasons, but for the most part, I consider myself to be a happy person. I know that the world isn't perfect, I know pain and sorrow but I have faith.

Eventually winter will end, the snow will melt and I will once again see the amazing growth of small seeds into a bountiful harvest.

No matter how bad things get right now, right here, I know this is not eternity.

Here is where we all have a choice. When I woke up this morning to a fresh coating of snow, I could choose to be angry or happy. Will I allow my emotions to be determined by other people (or inanimate objects?) It sounds pretty silly when you say it that way doesn't it?

If your high school nemesis has a seemingly happy life, does that make your smile any less genuine? That guy you barely remember from way back, just got back from a dream vacation with his disturbingly photogenic family, does that make you love your family any less? Stop comparing yourself, stop thinking if only.., start looking up from your computer screen, start making real connections to real people, start asking people about themselves. You will quickly learn that we all have problems and insecurities. Start being grateful you don't have their problems.

I know that not all of us have problems that will simply be fixed with an attitude adjustment, but it is a great place to start.

Don't you wish life was really like a Box of Chocolates? You still wouldn't always know what you are going to get and you might not like it, but at least you could always count on a sugar rush.