Friday, May 20, 2011

The tastes of summer...

Here's what I harvested on Monday. I enjoyed a yummy strawberry salad.

With the left over strawberries, I made this:

Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake... My family was singing my praises!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Where'd April go?

It's May. It was a long April. First, this happened...

My oldest went to the prom. This is the beginning of his final month of high school. I can't really discuss this. I'm just a little bit of a wreck...

Then, this happened. Siloam Springs received about 14 inches of rain in 12 hours. Our lovely basement couldn't handle the water. We brought up every single thing that was in our basement. We put it here in the family room,

In the entry way by the front door,

and in the living room with the piano.

We also had stuff in our bedroom and in the garage. These pictures just don't do the mess justice. On top of all that, during the same week, I had a dogwood festival booth to take care of, as well as a home school reception to organize. It was a rough month. Ironically, the rooms I had planned to "simplify" for the month of April were the entry way and the living room. I'm giving myself the freedom to do those rooms in May instead.

The basement is now dry, and we're slowly getting everything put away. It's been a good excuse to clean the basement.

In other business... I am still "wearing what I have". I could probably go ahead and post some new pictures now that I'm wearing summer stuff. I was tempted to do a little shopping for my birthday, but I resisted.

The garden is going strong and I had my first harvest of lovely lettuce about 10 days ago. The strawberries have come back strong and we'll have a huge crop in about 2 weeks. We've spent the last 3 days outside trying to soak up the wonderful weather...we know what's coming in about 4 weeks.

As we head into May, we have our last day of home school on Friday. PTL!! Zack graduates on the 21st and there will be various receptions, luncheons, assemblies the day before and after. Zane continues school, and Katie continues band, till June 4. Once again, the school year has flown by. Just trying to soak up every moment...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

March Simplify Results

It's March 30th and I'm so thrilled with the results of my school-room project. I wasn't sure it would work for me to get it all done in about 10 days, but things turned out so well. Our school room had become a catch-all for chunky, wooden, furniture. We are so grateful to have a room for school, but if we're going to be doing school in this room for many more years, we should at least enjoy our room. I just love how this turned out. The first thing was to take everything...I mean EVERYTHING, out of the room and paint. The name of the color is Greenhouse Basil and even the name makes me happy! I cleaned and painted all evening on Friday and finished the 2nd coat on Saturday night. My other plan was to get rid of some of the furniture and replace it with items that were cleaner looking, more streamlined... I made a mad dash to IKEA on Tuesday and brought back the computer desk/hutch, and the kids long desk. I also found the red shelf brackets and the chairs. We put everything together on Tuesday night and I got busy for the rest of the week putting all the stuff back in the room.
Here's a picture of the wardrobe and the bookshelf and a picture of the "new" corner of the room. We found this wardrobe at a warehouse sale and Roger added a hinged desk to the front. I don't really use that as a desk anymore, so I removed it and then cleaned up the inside. I got rid of the book shelf. These shelves hold a year's worth of books. I replaced the book shelf with the wall shelves. You can see in the new picture the little boxes under the kids' desk. Once they're done with one of their books, they can put it in their case so we don't lose it.

Here's a picture of the computer corner. This wooden computer desk is supposed to be able to close when you're not using it, but because of the way it's against the wall, and because the printer is right next to it, we've never used the doors. And, it gets so dusty in the back. And, I threw out about 100 computer discs that either don't work, or I have no idea what's on them. The amount of outdated stuff was unreal! It felt good to get that out of the room and replace it with the new one from IKEA. You can also see in the left side of the "old" picture a small desk next to the window. This was given to us but is just too small for Sam. And, it takes up more space than it's worth. So, Sam and Nate use the new long table/desk in the picture above. Also, I removed the wipe board from the window, It was so old and stained, so I got rid of it. I used a credit that I had at Office Max and bought a new one and hung it on the wall behind the door.

I think this is the best part of our new room. In the old room, I had an oak table in the middle of the room. This served as Nate's desk as well as just a place for the kids to create. The problem is that it was just so intrusive in our room and made it difficult to get around. I got rid of it! The only piece of large furniture that I kept was the wardrobe. I moved it to the opposite corner and got it all cleaned up. Katie's desk sits next to it.

Finally, I have a few things hanging on the wall and the door. I really tried to use wall space wisely, but also to make it attractive.

I just can't tell you how much I love the new look. The kids love it, I love it...we will just love walking into that room every day to do school... Right?

And, I now have a boat load of furniture that I hope to sell to pay for the new stuff. Maybe I should have a little "blog garage sale".

April is turning into a real bear on our calendar, so I think I'll choose a room that is a little less involved. I'm thinking about it.... I'll let you know.


Saturday, March 26, 2011


Not a lot to post right now... Just feeling very thankful on this rainy Saturday.

Thankful for a lovely spring break... Productive. Relaxing. Fun.

#44 A last little blast of cool weather to make us feel cozy at home
#45 Hot chocolate in a favorite mug
#46 My much loved house shoes and fuzzy socks
#47 A green shoot poking out of the soft dirt for a future pumpkin

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Odds and Ends

February is over. It seemed like a long month. Perhaps the 40 plus inches of snow made it seem a little long, or the fact that winter just seems long, period. Anyway, it's wonderful, glorious, lovely March and little snippets of spring are peeking through the dreariness of winter. Gone is the the daffodils poke up their little green fingers to let us know that rebirth is coming. Most importantly, the sun is shining more than it isn't. And, the temperatures are teasing us with a day every now and then in the 70s... YES!!
For the month of February, my plan was to simplify the dining room. Mission accomplished! We have a beautiful buffet in that room that hadn't been cleaned out since we moved into this house 8 years ago. It's all clean, and mostly empty :-) And, the big news is that I got a new dining room table and chairs. Our old table was given to us by Roger's mom, 22 years ago. She had owned it several years before that. It was beautiful...antique-ish... but it was old, and sagging... But the worst part was the 8 chairs. They didn't match the table, which is fine with me, but they were truly falling apart. They creaked and moaned when anyone sat in them. And, the bar underneath several of them had long since broken off. I realized that I avoided using that room because I really didn't like the table and chairs. The table was too low for most men, and it was just not in good shape. I began to look for replacement chairs and was shocked to find out how much they cost! It was cheaper to buy a new set, with the table, than to buy the chairs separately. If I must, I guess I must. I'm so thrilled with the new table...we've eaten on it almost every evening since we got it. Here's a picture of the old table. I made a Valentine's dinner for my family and we at in the dining room. You can't really see much of the table, but that's ok, you'll just have to trust me.

Here's the new table. I went from oval to rectangle...seating for 6 (we'd squeeze in 7) to seating for 8-10. I love it!

I even cleaned the chandelier! It looks brand new.
So, now that I'm really feeling good about the dining room, I'm moving on to a more difficult room. I'm going to "simplify" the school room. It would really make more sense to wait till we're done with our school year, but I have a couple of reasons for tackling it now. First of all, we're just tired of that room. It's sooo crowded with desks, tables, bookshelves, computer, etc... None of us really enjoy that room. So, I'm having the kids help me with this one. We'll do the bulk of the work during spring break. Also, I plan to get rid of several pieces of bulky furniture... I already have a plan for what I want to do in that room, but to pay for it all, I'd like to try to sell some of the thinks I'm going to get rid of. There's going to be a large rummage sale during the Dogwood Festival and I plan to have my things ready to sell in April. That means I need to get this room done during March. I can't wait to get rid of the dark, heavy furniture. I still have a potential of 9 years of home-schooling left! I'd like a cheery room that we enjoy being in, especially in the winter months.
What else? I'm reading a book... One Thousand Gifts. I can't really tell you about it because it's just so personal and challenging. But, I will say it's one of the most life-changing books I've ever read. It speaks to me very deeply. Go get it and read it please... I've started a "Gifts" notebook and am on #35.
I still haven't purchased any clothes this year. I'm wearing my winter clothes, but have a few pictures of fresh outfits to post later. I did wear a pair of shorts last week! My Salvation Army pile continues to grow...
The garden planning is continuing, new baby chicks arrive on Monday, the kids are playing outside a little more each day, we have 9 weeks of school left, and life is good...

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Here's what I've been working on. I was able to purchase a share of a CSA of a gal in upstate New York. She's dreaming of being a shepherdess and sent me my first shipment of yarn from her few sheep. One of her sheep, Maude, is an ornery old thing with a personality that I can't help but like. So, my project had to be Maude-worthy. I used Maude's angry wool and made a matching scarf and pair of fingerless gloves. Her yarn is the cream color. I didn't have enough to make it all from Maude's contribution, so I used Classic Elite 100% merino for the orange color. I think it turned out pretty nice.

It's Feb. 12 and I haven't spent a dime on new clothes this year. Today was tempting. I took Katie and her friend shopping and saw a few things I really liked, but I resisted. I'm still wearing repeats...the same stuff mixed and matched.
And, I finished "simplifying" the master bathroom and have moved on to the dining room. I have an antique buffet in the DR that hasn't been cleaned out in 8 years. I went through the whole thing and was able to get rid of a lot of stuff. I've started a nice pile of things for the Salvation Army. And, I think I'll put some of the stuff in the Band Yard Sale in April. I'm looking forward to getting the DR in order so we can use it as a family much more often.
Finally, my son Sam, prayed for snow a couple of weeks ago. He's convinced that it was his prayers that brought 24 1/2 inches of snow to Siloam this past week. It was amazing. I have absolutely loved having no place to go.
Monday we get back to real life. Maybe :-)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

January - A "Simplify" report

Just a little update. Yes, I'm still wearing the same clothes over and over again. Nothing new lately. I do have a pile of clothes to take to Good Will, and I have a couple more outfits that I need to let go of... I got 4 J Jill catalogs in January (not to mention about 10 other catalogs) and I tossed all of them before I even looked at them. Money spent in Jan: $0. I suspect that J Jill will notice the decrease in revenue and will begin to pour on the pressure :-(

And, I finished "simplifying" the bathroom. I went through all the cabinets and closets. I have a lot of junk! I've found that simplifying = deep cleaning, but even though my junk was put away, it's still junk. So, I dived in and got rid of lots. I ended up with a large trash bag of stuff. I had makeup in my drawers that was over 20 years old! 20 YEARS OLD!! I hadn't used it in about 18 years...but I couldn't throw it out because it was still good. Well, it's gone now.
Simplifying by getting rid of junk is good, but I'm also trying to have a more simplified focus. One thing at a time...avoiding the rush, rush, rush...using and being thankful for what I have.
Next assignment: "simplify" the dining room in February. I may even get a few pictures of the process.

For those of you in My Town, I hope you're warm. Drink lots of hot chocolate, please!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Here's a little bit of humor. You don't need to adjust the color on your really is neon lime green. Just a word of wisdom for any of you expectant moms out there. I know you feel big when you're 8 months pregnant. And, it seems like a good idea to get a Dorothy Hamil haircut, or to change your hair color from brown to platinum blond, or to spend money on outfits you think will make you feel better about your blossoming figure. Please! And I say this with all the heartfelt sympathy a person can have who has been there... Don't do ANYTHING! Once that baby comes you will be saddled with the repercussions of these disastrous decisions. Hence...a neon lime green capri outfit. I bought this when I was 8 months pregnant with my 4th baby. (That means I've had it for over 11 years!) I was on a trip with my husband. While he went to conference meetings all day, I hung out at the hotel with all the wives. I felt huge. I was in a hotel that had an adjoining mall and I wandered into a shop that just looked so bright and fun! I came out with this.

I planned to wear it after the baby came. I honestly don't think I've ever worn it. Maybe once. It will make someone really happy, but not me. When I see it in my closet I always have a twinge of guilt that I don't wear this. Eleven years...
Here it is: I wasted my money on this outfit and now I'm getting rid of it. Simplify.


I love my new blog picture. Each of the 3 youngest got to take a friend and use our season passes and buddy passes at Silver Dollar City. My two youngest are in the maroon and the of our friends is in the stripes. Unbridled excitement/fear/surprise. I laugh every time I look at this picture.

I have some more pictures of Wear What You Have, but I've decided to make an adjustment. By now, I'm wearing the same outfits over and over. Boring for anyone that happens to read this blog. So, I'm going to post when I wear something new. And, I've got a few pictures in my camera of "I can't believe I bought that!" items that I think you'll get a kick out of.

One of my dear friends has decided to sort of define her year with "one little word". Something she can use to try to give herself direction...something to work on this year...something to pray about and for. I'm not a big fan of resolutions, and I initially didn't think I'd do something like this...but there is a word that is ringing in my head these last many weeks. It's the word "simplify". There are so many ways to apply this word. Things, thoughts, spirit, desires, etc... I have a lot of ideas bouncing around in my brain, but I know myself well enough to know that I need to do just one or two things at a time. I tend to jump into the water with both feet and then find myself crumbling under the waves as I'm pulled in so many directions. So, while I contemplate simplifying myself internally, I'm putting effort into simplifying externally. Lately, my concern for the poor has transferred into some self-guilt. I am so incredibly blessed, but don't deserve a darn thing. Why do I get the great family, the warm home, a pantry full of food, cars that make life more convenient, a closet stuffed with clothes I don't wear, stuff that fills my home but not my heart? How do I continue to try to teach my children that more is not necessarily better, that money doesn't equal happiness, to be thankful for what you have, and how to say no?
All good questions...I'm still working on answers. Anyway, for this month, I'm going to simplify my bathroom. No earth-shattering changes...just simplify. Why do I find it hard to let go of a full bottle of nail polish that I haven't worn in 5 years? Do I really think I'll wear it? No. But it's as though I'm admitting I made a mistake if I throw it out. So, here it is...I'm laying it out for you to see read. Are you ready? I wasted my money on some nail polish and now I'm going to get rid of it. There you go. Holy cow! Are you still there? Who knows what'll go next?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wear What You Have...Week 2

Sunday, Jan.9
Well, I have no picture because I played hooky today and stayed home in my "lounge wear". Shhhh....


Monday, Jan.10

Black turtle neck, maroon tweed vest, green velour pants (everything J Jill)
The Verdict - Yep, I've already worn this before. I like it, even though the pants are a little short.


Tuesday, Jan. 11

Black waffle shirt with white trim, light blue Levis
The Verdict - this is a good "stand-by" shirt. I'm not crazy about it, but it doesn't bother me. It's one I wear when I'm behind in the laundry :-) I love these jeans. They're loose in the seat, which has a tendency to make my hips look a little bigger than necessary, but I don't care. They are so comfortable...I love them.


Wednesday, Jan. 12

Super soft pink sweater (J Jill), Levi jeans
The Verdict - Yes, I wore the same jeans 2 days in a sue me! I like this sweater but I wish it was just a little longer. I find myself making pulling it down often... but I still like it. It's super fuzzy and warm on a cold day.


Thursday, Jan. 13

Purply blue sweater (J Jill), white tank, Authentic Fit Jeans (J Jill)
The Verdict - I like this sweater because it's really comfortable and hangs over my backside. These jeans are a little tighter around the hips than I'm comfortable with, but I like the boot cut and the length, so this sweater is perfect with these jeans.


Friday, Jan. 14

Blue striped top, white tank, Lee Riders Jeans
The Verdict - I really like this top. It's actually sort of thin, so I wouldn't wear it when it's really cold, but it's really comfortable and I like the fit. I've had these jeans forever... I like them.


Saturday, Jan. 15

Black tuxedo shirt (Walmart), gray Authentic Fit Jeans (J Jill)
The Verdict - simple but I like it. I finally got a belt that fits and it helps keep these jeans from falling down.

Sunday, Jan. 16

Black turtleneck, black tweed vest, black/white hounds tooth skirt, black boots and tights.
The Verdict - This is the first time I've worn this skirt. I had originally figured on wearing just the turtleneck, but I felt like the skirt made my hips look big. So, I added the vest to give me a waist. I felt comfortable, but wasn't really crazy about the look.

That's it for last week. I think I threw out about 10 clothing catalogs this past week, and they still keep coming.
I've also included a picture of one of my favorite articles of socks. I love a good pair of socks. I had purchased some good socks a few years ago, but they're beginning to wear out. So, I came across these and I loved them. So, I got a few pairs in Dec. Everyone needs a pair of red socks...don't you think?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Wear What You Have

Well, we've hit the ground running in 2011. We enjoyed such a lovely vacation. Oh the joy of waking up with no real plans, only to spend the day with each other. Perhaps a little outing here and there...playing with Christmas toys and finishing projects that were put on the waiting list during the Fall. Have I mentioned that I love vacation... Not to be confused with a vacation. Going somewhere to visit/tour/sight see is a ton of fun. But I love the other vacations... summer vacation, Christmas vacation, Spring Break vacation, even Thanksgiving vacation. The go nowhere vacation. Love them!
Here's what I got for Christmas. It's a little 6'x9' spot o' sunshine!

For the week after Christmas I got to do a little planting. I've since been up to my elbows in seed catalogs and gardening books. I really want to try to do year-round gardening, so my Handy Man got me this to help me out. And, he got it on sale with free shipping! Even better.

We lost one of our chickens a few weeks ago and replaced her with a new Aracauna. The new one is called Muffin and she's so sweet. She gave us her very first egg this week. I'd forgotten how small their first eggs are. We all just oo-ed and ah-ed over her first delivery. She can stay now.

Also, after quite a bit of purging last month (I made 3 trips to the Salvation Army), I've been a little convicted about how many clothes I have. So, I'm going to be trying a new project this year... It's called Wear What I Have. Honestly, it's embarrassing all the clothes I have when I consider the poor. So, I'm going to keep track of what I wear and get rid of anything that doesn't go on my body this year. Don't worry...I will buy new underwear and socks as needed :-) but that's it...I hope.
Jan. 1 - Black tuxedo shirt (Walmart), brown boucle sweater vest (J Jill), cozy knit pants (J Jill)
The Verdict - Love this. Very comfortable and I like the way it makes me feel. Casual but not dressing down. I suspect you'll be seeing me wear these a lot this year.

Jan 2 - Black skirt, long sweater, black boots, tights.

The verdict - I wore this to church and I liked it. I don't wear this sweater too often, but I like the way it looks and feels. I'll keep this.

Jan. 3 - J Jill Arctic sweater, J Jill True Fit jeans

The verdict - I've had this sweater for over 4 years. It's gotten too stretched out over the years and I just don't like the way it feels anymore. Notice that I had to roll up the sleeves... The sweater is going into the "give away" pile. The jeans stay.

Jan. 4 - Cozy knit pants (J Jill), black tuxedo shirt, heather gray knit jacket (J Jill)
The verdict - I really like this. I got the jacket so I could layer without having to do a sweatshirt. I like things that hang down a little over the "back side". I feel good in this and can remove the jacket if I need to. This all will stay.

Jan. 5 - Black turtleneck, brown vest, green velour pants (all from J Jill).
The verdict. I like this too... The pants are almost too short, but their are so super comfortable that I just ignore it.

Jan. 6 - Cozy knit pants, gray striped shirt (J Jill)
The verdict - This is really comfortable too. The shirt is a little tighter around my behind than I'm used too, but not enough to make me get rid of it. And, I like the way it looks with the pants.

Jan. 7 - New blue button down shirt, blue boyfriend pants (all from J Jill)
The verdict - I love this. I like that the shirt has a little bit of shaping and is super comfortable. The pants are a little thin for the winter time, but I just love them. I feel casual and put together, but very comfortable.

Jan. 8 - Purple heater sweater, gray straight let jeans (all from J Jill). The red house shoes are from Land's End.
The verdict - This is a sweater that I really liked until I washed it. It's just a little tighter around the behind than I like. I suspect it will be "eliminated" sometime this year. I really like the gray jeans for the color, but the cut is not good. These ride really low on the waist. When I first put them on, the stay put just fine, but as the day goes on, I'm constantly having to pull them up. Because they ride low, I don't have a belt that fits around my hips! Right now they will stay in the game because I like the color and the look of them, but I probably need to find a belt for them that fits or I'll probably start avoiding them.

There you have it. The first week of Jan. Can you guess what my favorite clothing store is?