Archive | January 2014

Snow Cream

snow-cream-recipe-photo-260x260-acoleman-031Much of the US is covered in snow, and here in the southeast we are actually expecting some of it today too. Our kids are so excited. The town has shut down for 2 days even though it is 1:45pm and we haven’t had a flake of snow at our house. In hopes that the forecasters are correct, here is a fun snow activity – making Snow Cream.

To “catch” good snow, set a large clean bowl outside where animals cannot get into it. Then use your snow and this recipe from Disney to make your own snow cream!

Saturday Project: LOVE Bookshelf

photoWith Valentine’s Day coming up soon I guess I must me in the mood for love. Funny though, because we don’t even celebrate that holiday. (We want a day all about us, not some day we have to share with every other pseudo-couple in the world so we go all out on our wedding anniversary and the anniversary of our first date.) But still, love is in the air. So how about a practical love gift?

We have tons of books. Even after selling most of our collection when we moved abroad in 2010 and going to e-readers, we will have tons of books. We used to have a bookshelf in our bedroom but sold it and never replaced it. So when I found this project, I thought it would be great for a master bedroom.

Check out the instructions to make the LOVE bookshelf pictured here from CraftingItMyself. You can tweak the dimensions to match your room or books and paint it any way that matches your decor (ours will be beach cottage shabby chic).

What We Are Reading Now – 1st Quarter 2014

Reading bookI haven’t updated our reading lists in a while, so here are some of the things we are reading now!



The links provided for these books are from These books are also available at many libraries and through e-readers such as the Kindle. We prefer the Kindle. You can download free software to use Kindle books on your computer, tablet, or smartphone for free. You don’t even need to buy the tablet!

Enjoy the Moment

DSCN4316As I look at my Facebook feed I see most of my friends are complaining about more snow, or their husbands and kids, or some other thing life has thrown at them. Trust me, we are not without the problems of life. We have been through unemployment, financial trouble, marriage problems, sick kids, bad weather, broken belongings, moves, seasons of upheaval, and such. And I too have been guilty at times of airing that all out on social media. But as much as these things happen to us all, instead of posting our problems for everyone to see, what if we really did learn Paul’s secret of being content in all circumstances (Philippians 4:11-13)? If Paul could find contentment chained in jail, surely I can find it even in the midst of the trials and tribulations of life.

Today we have a fresh breeze blowing through the open windows and 3 loads of laundry line drying outside (well, in our 3-season room anyway) and it is 65°F. Yes, I know it will get colder tonight and they have even thrown around the dreaded “s’ word here, but I will enjoy the warm and sun. I will rejoice that we have a home and a washing machine (thanks to a very generous friend). I will be thankful that we have laundry to hang and fold, because that means we have clothes in abundance to wear.  I will be still and quiet, knowing that in the noise and chaos that surround me  children are learning and growing. And tomorrow, I will embrace the cold, the sleet, and snow. I will be thankful that I have heat and a cozy house. I will appreciate the fact that I have sweaters to wear and fuzzy slippers too (thanks Mom & Dad for the warm Christmas gift!). And if it is cold when I go out I will be thankful that I feel it because that means I am ALIVE!

Without all these things that “get in our way” what would our life be anyway? Mine would be pretty dull and boring. There would be fewer funny stories and less laughter for sure (who else but us has a story about a kid getting bit by a donkey while performing in a living nativity?)! But the secret to contentment really is to learn to be thankful, GRATEFUL, in all situations.

Homemade Non-Slip Hangers

DSCN4326My wonderful husband went to a national store on his own and scored me 4 new shirts for $8 each. They are super stylish, nautically striped with a boat neck. I love them and him for getting them for me for no reason at all (not a birthday or anniversary or anything!). But when I started hanging them up, nothing would stay on the hangers. These didn’t come with the clever little hanging straps that somehow always manage to be showing when I wear a top with them. After fidgeting with the shirts and hangers for several minutes I remembered something I saw somewhere about using hot glue to add texture to the hangers to hold wide necked shirts. I really wish I could remember where I saw it to give the truly clever person props, but alas I have no idea. Even if it was on Pinterest, the odds are it wouldn’t take me to the original link anyway, so thank you mystery person.

Here is what you do. Get your cheap plastic hangers out and heat up that glue gun. Starting about the middle of the side of the hanger (mine had handy open hook areas) paint a curvy line with your glue gun. Add a slightly thicker dot of glue at the end. Let them cool. Viola! Non-slip hangers for all those fashionable wide-necked shirts and slippery fabrics.

TIP  – If you did this on plastic hangers, should you get rid of the shirts, you can easily peel the glue off the hanger and return it to its original state.

Saturday Project: Smittens


While I have learned that cold is a very relative term, depending on where you live, the fact is that in January, most of us are experiencing a regional version of cold. Time to curl up with a hot cocoa and a good book. But for the days when I must go out, I want my hands to be warm. I will often wear a sweater or fleece, scarf, and a pair of gloves that I got at Old Navy 10 years ago but love because they are soft, thin and warm.

Recently I have been wanting something cozier. I got a lovely infinity scarf for Christmas, so now it is time for new hand protection. Enter Smittens. Thanks Pinterest. I simply must make these! Grab an old sweater or thrift store find and follow these easy instructions to make your own cozy, warm smittens.

TIP: These plus a pocket scarf make a great set or gift!

Can You Bring A Meal For…?

slow.cooker.01This week I got a Facebook invite from a friend asking for some of us ladies to make meals for a mom at church who had been in the hospital and was still sick at home recovering. Normally I am prepared for just such an occasion. Usually in my freezer there are 4-5 meals frozen, ready for when someone get sick, has a baby, or has to deal with a death or other difficult situation. Things like soup, chili, lasagna, etc. all freeze wonderfully and it is so convenient to be able to just pull a meal out of the freezer when it is needed. Generally, when making soup, chili, or a pasta dish, I make double and freeze half for just such a need. But when I went to the freezer today to pull out a meal for our friends from church, all I found was ½ a bag of cheddar broccoli soup.

So as I plan to stock my freezer up on meals, I thought I would share some of my favorite “take a meal to” recipes.  TIP- Always ask about allergies or diet restrictions. It doesn’t help anyone to bring food a family member cannot eat. This is always important to me because I have severe (and strange!) food allergies.

Loaded Potato Soup -You can follow the recipe in the link, or just do what I do. Peel 5-10 pounds of potatoes and cut them into ½ inch chunks. Put the potatoes in the slow cooker. Grate 5-6 carrots & mix with the potatoes. Cover the potatoes with chicken or beef stock. Cook on high for 2-3 hours. Before freezing (or eating) add 1-2 cups of grated cheddar cheese and 6-10 (or more!) slices of full-cooked bacon. If you are giving this warm, you can top with sour cream & chives, if you prefer (we don’t!).

Chicken Noodle Soup – Look under Tuesday on the link, but there are a million ways to make this and it is always good. Bring along a baguette you made or bought the day of delivery.

Broccoli Cheese Soup – Like Panera only cheaper & healthier! I always make this in the slow cooker. This also goes well with a baguette.

Lasagna – There are a million ways to make this one too. Two of our favors are to leave the meat out or add in zucchini “noodles”. Add a baguette or salad to finish the meal.

Chili – Again, I use the slow cooker and just make a ton. Because of allergies my chili is on the mild side, but spice it up any way you like. Include shredded cheese and some crackers to finish off the meal.

TIP – Freeze these things in zipper bags flat in the freezer. They will take up less space when stored.

TIP – Write on the zipper bags (before filling!) what the dish is, if it includes vegetables, and any cooking or re-heating instructions. I always put a heart and our family name because that makes it seem more personal to me. Someone did that on food that we received after our last kiddo was born and I thought it was cute.

BORED Poster

Screen Shot 2014-01-13 at 5.39.59 PMEvery once in a while the time I spend on Pinterest actually yields a good idea. I want to thank I Life Heavy Things for the pinspiration!

This mom made a poster for her kids that deals with the “I’m bored” whine. Because I am all about pointing to a menu or poster until they learn to check there first, I LOVED this idea. I will never draw a poster and I cannot resist the chance to do some graphic design work, I created this printable Bored Poster that you can download and print yourself.

If you like this, check out the THINK poster!

Things You Should Clean, But Probably Don’t

cleaning crazyMost of us get the basics of cleaning…kitchen, bathrooms, dusting, floors. (For more on organizing your cleaning routine check out the daily chore list or the electronic version.) But, even when you keep these things current in your cleaning routine, you may be missing some of the germiest (that’s a word, right?) places in your home. Here are a few things you should be cleaning regularly and some tips for cleaning.

Tip – Get the kids involved! Race to see who can get finished first. Ask them to come up with things they think need cleaned that you don’t regularly do.

1. Baseboards and trim – Many of us dust the furniture and blinds, but what about the baseboards and trim? Consider using a dryer sheet to pick up the dust and help repel future dust.

2. Phones – Home and cell phones get very germy and dirty. Remove protective cases and clean everything with a disinfectant wipe or a vinegar & water solution (1:1). Do not use a wet cloth, just damp and rung out!

3. Remotes & Game Controllers –  same procedure as phones – wipe them down regularly

4. Light switches,  doorknobs, and locks – these come in contact with a lot of hands. Disinfect them regularly.

5. Drawer pulls – whether on cabinets or dressers, be sure to wipe them down regularly. We often do this in kitchens & bathrooms, but forget about dressers in bedrooms.

6. Vacuum Cleaner – Yes, clean the cleaner. Take the time once a quarter to dust off and clean up your vacuum, including washing the air filter (which can often be done in the dishwasher).

Saturday Project: Sweater Bag

5048144070_24f4abf785We have many sweaters around that we either don’t need (we live in a warmer climate) or that have seen better days (frayed arms & elbows). While anything in decent condition gets donated, what about the sweaters that still have an intact body but the arms have seen better days? This project will use those (or any sweater you buy at the thrift shop).

A Lemon Squeezy Home featured a guest blog post from Create & Delegate with instructions to make a great tote bag from a sweater. I can’t wait to make a few of these. Bonus Tip: Use Oilcloth or another waterproof fabric as the liner to create a great swim/beach bag or picnic/car drink bag.