Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Christmas Joy and a Tiny Craft

Hi Friends! We are enjoying a wonderful snow day, and it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. We have been enjoying a really great Christmas season. The last few years for some reason I have felt down about the commercial, selfish version of Christmas that seems to surround us in our culture. This year we've taken care to keep the crazy out of Christmas, and I'm enjoying it like no other. All is calm, all is bright. 

Thing Two is learning to read, and he sounded out a banner that we have that says "Joy to the World." Since it's Christmas time  "joy" seems to be plastered on everything in every store and decoration. Thing Two is loving recognizing that word when he sees it, and it's been the perfect reminder for the rest of us. Thing One said, "Mom, he finds 'joy' wherever we go!" and Thing Two said, "I can see joy everywhere!" How true. We tend to find joy whenever we remember to look for it. That's exactly what we are doing this year. May you find joy this Christmas! 

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great JOY that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."                      Luke 2:10-11
Now, as long as you are here, I thought I'd share a tiny, easy Christmas craft that I made just for fun. I'm trying to use up things we have around the house, and I've had these 2" terra-cotta pots for a while just waiting for the right craft. Since we have twigs in the backyard and always plenty of play-doh, the only thing I had to buy was the pine-tree pipe cleaners. You can get those and the terra-cotta at Hobby Lobby. Aren't these little pine trees cute? They would make great placard holders or office gifts maybe? A perfect desk-size tree : )


Here's the quick run down. Use wire cutters to cut the pipe cleaners into different sizes. The biggest pieces I used were half a pipe cleaner. 


Then arrange them by size and twist them unto a skinny 6" long twig. To make the branches shorter just twist around an extra time. 



I used about four pipe cleaners for each tree. Leave about two inches of twig at the bottom. Fill the terra cotta pot with play-doh and press it in to make it firm. Insert the tree base into the play-doh and squash it around the trunk to hold it tight and straight.


If you want you can add a little moss to cover the play-doh. If you don't have the terra cotta, you could also tie a little scrap of burlap around the play-doh base instead. That was my original idea, and then I saw the pots. 


Here's to happy, easy crafts. Just say "no" to Christmas crazy, friends. Find joy! You are loved!

-Haley

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Thanksgiving

Hello! It's been so long, but here I am. I have been intrigued by all the "grown-up coloring" going around. I thought maybe it would be fun to print some fall and thanksgiving themed pages to have around on Thanksgiving. It's supposed to be snowy and in the 20's here so we will need an alternative to the football and after dinner walk that we usually do. It turns out my kids really like these intricate coloring pages and a big cup of sharpened pencils. Here's a link to a few great fall coloring pages.


We spent a half hour coloring together yesterday. Even Thing Two, did a really careful job, and usually he just scribbles. I love spending time together like this. Whether you need a little quite time during a week off of school, or something for the whole fam-damly on Thanksgiving, a quick Pinterst search, a printer, and some colored pencils could bring you a lot of relaxed family time. Here's wishing you a peaceful day of giving thanks. We have so much to be thankful for.


"The greatest thing is to give thanks for everything. He who has learned this knows what it means to live. He has penetrated the whole mystery of life: giving thanks for everything."
                                                         
                                                       --Albert Schweitzer

Ephesians 5:20
 Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything...


Happy Thanksgiving!
-- Haley

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Syrian Refugee Crisis

This weekend we went to the mountains for a little while. We spent an hour or two climbing up a trail and enjoying the view. At the end of the short hike my kids were thirsty, hot, hungry and dirty. We had plenty of water with us and snacks in the car and that night we tucked our boys safely into bed, after they bathed and put on fresh jammies. But after we got home I saw this post from Samaritan's Purse about all the refugees traveling to escape the violence that has over taken their cities (ISIS).
I thought, if my kiddos were tired, hot and dirty after just a couple hours of walking, what must these kids feel like? Many have been traveling for weeks, and most have lost everything in the journey. There's no clean jammies and warm bed waiting at the end of the day. In fact, they often don't even know what country they will be in at the end of the day.



World Vision has put together the map above that really helps us understand the enormity of this journey.  It shows how a family coming from Aleppo, Syria to the border of Serbia will have to travel over 1,400 miles (Check out their post about this: here.) Many of these miles are being trekked on foot. World Vision also has a great post about what is happening, who is affected and how World Vision is responding with aid. You can click here to read that and to help through World Vision.

"Nearly 12 million Syrians have been forced from their homes by the fighting — half are children."
                                                                                                                         -- World Vision

Samaritan's Purse has been posting updates from their workers on the ground in Greece, and other check points. They have been helping with medical care (with some of their staff doctors checking on refugees at certain check points), and distributing backpacks with much needed health and hygiene items as well as snacks and comfort items for kids. Their help is tangible. If you are watching news clips of thousands of people walking and walking; everything they own in a plastic grocery bag--and wondering what you can do, here is something you can do. Watch the video to get a sense of what's happening, what these families are going through, what they've lost and how desperately they need hope, and see how Samaritan's Purse is helping them. You can donate directly to Samaritan's Purse's European Refugee Relief by clicking here (and scrolling to the bottom).

 "We've not come here for enjoyment. All of us are hopeless people." 
We can't look away from what families just like ours are going through on the other side of the world.   I don't know what is going to happen to these families, but I know this:
They need help today.
They need hope to make it to tomorrow; to the next check point.
There are good organizations making a real impact in this ongoing crisis and we can partner with them.

I feel like there's so little I can do to help, but I think too often we claim our ability to only make a small impact as an excuse to do nothing. We can not do nothing.


“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
                                                                                                - Mother Teresa


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Book Review: Woodlawn

Football season is officially underway. With football on TV, fall in the air, and a movie based on the book on the horizon, now is the perfect time to read the inspiring true story of Woodlawn, by Todd Gerelds. 

Woodlawn is set in Birmingham, Alabama in the 1970's. Coach Tandy Gerelds is struggling to integrate a team of high school football players in an era and a community that wants anything but to work together. He tries everything to get his guys to break down barriers and truly be a team, but to no avail. Finally, a bootlegger-turned-preacher named Wales Goebel shows up and shows them that the way to be united is not to put on the same jersey, but the same heart. As the entire team experiences a change of heart and a new-found faith, they finally are able to work together and let every player shine, especially their African-American superstar: Tony Nathan. At a school where black and white students couldn't even walk the halls together (due to violence), this is an amazing feat. I love the story of this faith-born brotherhood, but I also love the personal stories of the men who brought it about: the coach, the team chaplin and a local evangelist. 

I am looking forward to seeing the movie, but I have a feeling it will not adequately explain the amazing back stories of Wales Goebel and Hank Erwin. These men had such interesting lives and give God all the credit for the difficulties they overcame. I'm sure they never thought they would be changing the course of a football team, but their authenticity affected those young football players deeply and allowed them to hear the message of Jesus Christ's love that they both experienced and shared with the team.    

Woodlawn the movie (with Sean Astin & Jon Voight) comes out October 15, 2015, but the book comes out this week! That give you a month to get the whole true story which, trust me, you have to hear! Order the book here, or check your local book store. 


** I received a free copy of Woodlawn from Howard Books for my honest review. All opinions are my own, of course  : ) **

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Homestead, Faux-mstead

Hi! With kiddos going back to school, it's starting to feel like fall. Like harvest time. I mentioned that we are reading Little House on the Prairie, and it's making me feel all homesteady. Of course it's all fun and games for us, because our survival isn't dependent on being able to preserve all the fall harvest. Still, we are trying to make sure nothing gets wasted. We  got a late spring freeze here that killed a lot of trees' blossoms, so I've noticed a lot of local apple trees around us didn't grow any apples. We were lucky and ours did! We got about 60 fireside apples from our little tree. Many of them have worms or bugs, so we are trying to use those up more quickly by making crockpot applesauce, and pies. Pie for breakfast!


I have never canned anything, but I keep thinking I'm going to. I'm getting closer. I have purchased canning jars and supplies, and we used one to make some fridge pickles this week. Baby steps. : ) We got to use our homegrown garlic, carrots, celery seed, coriander (cilantro seeds), and farmers market cucumbers. We used Ted Allen's recipe from the Food Network, and they tasted like pickles in just a few hours. The boys love them! We will definitely use this recipe again! Here's the link to the recipe

I hope you're week is going well! You are loved!


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Garden: Midseason Success and Failure

How's your summer going? Ours has been so full of so many good things. I am so thankful for this season with our family. We've been having a lot of adventures together. But even when we are just at home we are staying busy. Our garden is one thing we all work on together. 

I am so thankful that we get to have a garden, and even more thankful that we don't rely on it alone to be able to eat. We are reading the Little House books right now and thinking about how families used  to have to grow enough to survive gives me a whole new respect for homesteading life back then. 

Every year we seem to have different challenges in the garden. This summer it's often felt like we are failing out there. Squash beetles have killed some of our squash, we have planted peppers three different times and they just keep dying. Twice I planted beets and something ate them the minute they come up. Half the green beans I planted didn't come up and none of the cucumbers. We started tomatoes earlier than ever and we've had fewer than ever ripen up. Nonetheless, the season's not over, and we are enjoying some success. Here's a few things that did work and are making us happy. 

The few beets that did come up have beautiful tops. I can't wait to sauté these up with some butter and snow peas. Our snow peas also did great this year and we picked several bowls full. 


Some friends of ours gave us this windmill. I love seeing it in the garden. It's perfect for our little city farm. We planted some spaghetti squash nearby and they have over taken the bottom of the windmill. There's five good-size spaghetti squash on this trellis.  The ones at the bottom are huge!


One of our planters was more weeds than veggies. A lot of things we planted just didn't come up there, so we pulled out the young onions (which are still a usable size), and tilled it up and started over a couple weeks ago. Everything else below we picked in the last couple of days. When I put it all together I realized, we aren't failing. Some things are working, and seeing this pile of stuff we grew makes me happy, and eating it together will make us healthy. What more could we ask for? It's enough. I'm still hoping for more tomatoes in the next couple months though ; )


I hope you are enjoying the fruits of your labor, whatever they may be, and finding that they are enough. Happy summer! We'll be taking advantage of the last couple weeks of summer fun before school schedule starts here. Oh how I love these long and full days.

You are loved!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Family Fun Night: Paddington

Sometimes on Friday nights we like to do something special with the boys. Usually nothing fancy just a good time together: game night, a movie, camping in the backyard or a free activity in town. A few weeks ago we had a Paddington Bear night. We got the book from the library, rented the movie from Redbox, and made special desserts and snacks to munch on while we watched the movie. Something about having a theme makes the night even more special for them.


They both had these plain teddy bears. I turned them into Paddingtons using some felt and fleece I had left over from other projects.  The hat was no-sew I just hot glued two pieces of felt together and  added a little brown ribbon. For the coat I just traced the body of the bear from the knees up (plus about a 1/2 inch all the way around) onto two layers of blue fleece. I made the sleeves extra long so I could roll them up as a cuff. Stuffed animal clothes are really easy to make. Felt and fleece are great because they don't frey and you can do minimal sewing or just hot glue. Older kids would probably have fun making the clothes themselves with felt, scissors and a little help with hot glue. 


For dessert we had ice cream, marmalade and teddy grahams.


The marmalade is really good if you put some in a dish and warm it up for a few seconds in the microwave then pour it over the ice cream. Yum.


We also made a s'mores mix with the Teddy Grahams, chocolate chips and mini marshmallows.


We loved our Paddington night. Spending time together doesn't have to be expensive or complicated, but I feel like we have to do these things on purpose or the weeks just slip away. Maybe your family would like a Paddington night? : ) I hope you are having some fun family time this summer! 4th of July, here we come!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Apricot Appetizer

Hi there! I hope you are staying cool. (ha that just made me think of year books --"Stay cool 4ever, see ya next year!") Not like that cool, although obvs you are that cool or you wouldn't be reading this.  

Anyway, I thought today I'd share an easy summer appetizer we tried recently. 


Apricot Appetizer Bites

You will need:

4 oz. goat cheese
1 tbsp fresh thyme (finely chopped, plus sprigs to garnish)
2 tbsp dried cranberries (or dried cherries), chopped
honey
whole almonds
dried apricots

These are so simple and flexible I wouldn't even call this a recipe, really.  Let the goat cheese sit out at room temp for a few minutes or microwave for just a few seconds to soften first. Mix the chopped thyme and cranberries into the goat cheese. Smear the cheese onto the apricots and top with an almond. Drizzle lightly with honey and throw a few extra sprigs of thyme and cranberries on the plate to garnish. 

Pretty and delish! I love that this is a no cook appetizer, because then you really can stay cool 4ever. That's important when it's 94º warm out.
; )

Have a great day, friends!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Simple Summer

Hi Friends! I haven't posted much because we are busy doing summer!  I love summer.  I think I especially love it because in summer we bask in a free schedule, and lots of free small town activities.  I feel like I see a lot of blogs or articles about moms who can't stand having their kids home all summer. Maybe different ages are harder, but I love that we get to spend every day together in the summer--I've been looking forward to it! 

We got a reminder of what a gift this time is this week when we heard about a local 8 year old little girl who died, after getting a cancer diagnosis just 14 days ago. Everyone is devastated for this family. It makes me so glad that I am taking time to spend playing with my kids. I know I will never regret enjoying (and teaching my kids to enjoy) the simplest things. Every single day is a gift you guys, we are not guaranteed even one more. 

Additionally, the longer I live here, the more convinced I am that we live in Stars HollowThis is what we've been doing: 

A free hot air balloon festival, is always the sign that it's almost summer. 


Working on summer reading programs and visiting the library robot,


We're having picnics in the park, and going to free concerts in the park.


Farmers markets. This radish festival was over-the-top Stars Hollow. They had a radish piñata, radish toss (corn hole), radish stamping art projects, radish taste testing, and this radish jewelry making station. I am telling you, I'm pretty sure I saw Taylor and Human Kirk there.


We bought our yearly National Parks Pass; the one that gets you into all the national parks and monuments in the country. We already used it at a Cabrillo National Monument (lucky us!), and we have Rocky Mountain National Park, and about 5 more in South Dakota on the list for this summer. Things 1 & Thing 2 have their sights set on some more Jr. Ranger badges


We are starting to eat out of the garden for this season. Lots of baby greens, and several handfuls of snow peas and sugar snaps, so far. I love that Thing 1 likes going out to look for ripe veggies from the garden. He's been watching those peas like a hawk. Thing 2's favorite garden activity is eating stevia leaves, which he calls "candy plant." Some beautiful blooms from our flower garden have been brightening up our kitchen too.


That's pretty much our simple summer. I'm grateful for every day of this life, and I will not take anything for granted. I hope that you are having happy days too, Friends. 
                       "Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you will look back
 and realize they were the big things."



Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Mini Float Boats

So our little girl friends in Brazil got fairy dolls and little houses (here if you missed it), but we knew the boys would probably didn't want a flower doll. We wanted to make something they could all play with together, or on their own, so we made little boats and peg boys to go with them. These were so easy, quick and cheap to make. We made 20 I think and I don't know if we even used a whole pool noodle. This is a great summer craft/toy for kids.


Here's what you need:

pool noodle
duct tape
wooden skewer
serrated knife
scissors
craft knife 


Here's how you make them:
1. Using the serrated knife (I just used a steak knife) cut a 4" piece of pool noodle.
2. Cut the 4"piece in half down the middle; then it should look like this:


3. Turn the pieces over and cut off just the round edge to make the top of the boat flat. Like this:


4. Cut a 5" piece of wooden skewer, keeping the pointed end on one side. I used smaller skewers to start with, you can see they were about 8" long, and a little thinner than average BBQ skewers. This is the perfect length for the boat, because we then used the 3" piece that we cut off to make little fishing poles.


5. To make the sail: slightly overlap 2 pieces of duct tape, 3.5" long, sticky side up. Then use 2 more pieces to cover the sticky sides, so you have duct tape on front and back. Use the scissors to trim up any sticky edges. You can use additional thin pieces if you want to make a stripe down the middle or other designs.


6. Use the craft knife to cut 2 small slits in the center of the sail, 1/2" from the top, and 1/2" from the bottom. Then slide the skewer through and insert the pointy end into the flat side of the pool noodle boat. Now you have a boat! 


If you want to make a fishing pole, just use the piece of skewer you cut off (or cut a 3" piece), and hot glue a small length of nylon thread/yarn to the top. Cut 2 small fish shapes out of felt and hot glue the thread in between them. 

To make the peg guys we actually used the fabric paints (the same ones we used on the fairy houses). These have such fine points it was really easy to do details like eyes and mustaches. They are a little quirky, but we'll call that "personality." I especially like Thing One's in the back with the "crazy eyebrows" ; ) We sent a big group of fishermen and boats to our little friends in Brazil. I think they will be given to the kids with the story of how Jesus's closest friends came to be his friends in Luke 5.  I love that story, because those guys didn't do anything different than they had been doing. They'd been fishing all night and caught nothing, but when Jesus said put out your nets one more time, they were willing to trust Him, and it made all the difference. I hope that the boys in Brazil will like them. I picture them having boat races in a little stream somewhere. I hope that these little homemade gifts are just a reminder that they are loved. I think these boats would be great for Operation Christmas Child boxes too! I hope you are enjoying summer with your favorite people!


Thanks for reading!

**To see other things we've made with pool noodles, check out these posts:
Pool noodle ball pit & Light sabers
Pool noodle basketball hoops
Pool noodle hurdles/soccer goals
Pool noodle wreath base
Pool noodle indoor putt-putt course

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Felt Fairy Houses and Crafting for a Cause

Hi friends! Sorry it's been so long. May somehow just picks up speed and is over before I know it! Anyway, I've been keeping out of trouble by staying busy with some fun craft projects. Remember when we made the flower fairies? Well, my sister just returned from a trip to Brazil, where she meet a whole bunch of sweet kiddos that a friend of ours has been getting to know over the past couple of years. These kids are living a very different reality than our kids. I had just showed her these little dolls, and my sis thought that these would be a great way for us to show the girls that we were thinking of them (from afar) and to remind them that they are loved. (We made stuff for the boys too, I'll post about that later).


We are sending them with this verse, and reminder:
 Walk into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They don’t fuss with their appearance—but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them. If God gives such attention to the wildflowers, most of them never even seen, don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you?  
          Luke 12:27-29 (The Message)

Our message to them, and to you, is this: you are more beautiful to God than the most exquisite flowers. Flowers are here today and withered tomorrow, and God still made them beautiful to behold. YOU are beautiful and YOU are precious to Him. 


So a few friends and my mom helped make a tiny army of flower fairies and then I decided that every doll could use a little house. So I made up a quick, easy, and cheap little house...and then we made 30 of them! Wanna make one for your favorite little person? Here's how:


Here's what you'll need:
  • 3 sheets of felt (1 for the house, 1 for the roof, 1 for the door, or just a scrap in another color)
  • hot glue and glue gun 
  • colorful buttons
  • green and black puffy paint
You can buy the felt at craft stores like hobby lobby, by the "sheet" they are $ 0.25 You can be creative and use any colors you'd like (see the Frozen house, below). For the houses we sent to Brazil, I used 1 piece of brown/tan and one piece of grey for the roof and then some colorful scraps of colors I had on hand for the doors. Start by folding the brown felt in half, hamburger style. I just line up the edges and hold them together, then slip the scissors into the fold. Stretch while you cut and you should get an even cut every time. Then you can either sew the short sides together, or hot glue them together about 1/8" from the edge, if you want this to be completely no-sew. 

Turn the felt inside out to put the seams on the inside. Then you can glue on a felt piece for a door, and one for a door mat (this helps the house stand up better). I used buttons to make a doorknob and flowers, and fabric paint (puffy paint) to make some flower stems and grass.


After that dried for a couple hours, I flipped it over and made a window with black puffy paint on the back. Almost done!


For the roof, you can measure out a circle about 8" in diameter. I actually traced a small (dessert size) paper plate with about an extra 1/2" around the outside and found this was the perfect size.Then fold the circle in half, and cut through just one layer to the middle.


To give the roof a little peak, put hot glue on one edge of the slit you just made in the roof and along about 2" of the perimeter. Over-lap by about 2 inches and press down to join the sides.

To connect the house to the roof: Place the roof top-side down on a table.  Run a line of hot glue around about 1/3 of the top outside edge of the house, then turn it upside-down onto the roof about 1/2 inch from the roof edge and press it onto the roof from inside of the house. Then hot glue around the rest of the top outside edge of the house and press it down from the inside. Here's what it should look like, as you are looking inside the house from the bottom. The top of the house forms a little lip on the inside and then looks nice and smooth on the outside. (I hope this makes sense!)


Finally, cut through the house along two sides of the door: the doorknob edge and top of the door. Now your door opens, and you have a little house! Ta da! I hope the kids receiving them will like them, and that the dolls will remind them they are indeed beautiful. 


Like I said at the top you can use different colors to make different kinds of houses.  If you want your fairy house to look like a tree stump, you could try using brown for the house and green for the roof. When my boys saw all the little play houses I we were making, they wanted one too. Since we made a little Elsa peg doll, I decided we probably should make a Frozen castle. I did snowflakes and swirls in white and glow-in-the-dark, so this one actually glows in the dark, which Thing Two really likes. :) 


If you'll indulge me a have just a few rambling thoughts to end with.

Sometimes it's hard to think about the very difficult circumstances that people (and especially children) are living in both near and far. We live our easy and fun-filled lives; playing and crafting and baking. While so many are struggling to just survive. I think this all the time when I'm scrolling through Pinterest. I follow moms and friends and bloggers on Pinterest, but I also follow some amazing non-profits and ministries working in difficult places around the world. So I see things like :
"Fluffiest Cupcake Recipe" and "100 Fun Activities for Your Summer Bucket List" 
right along side: 
"Victor lives in Guatemala and has been waiting for a sponsor for 256 days" and " Our teams are working with earthquake survivors to provide clean water and tarps." 

How do we reconcile these things? Right there next to each other. Extreme privilege, and extreme poverty. Hobbies and heart break. I don't know. I do know that I want to see the poverty, I don't want to forget about it. I need to be reminded, so I don't get wrapped up in my own world. I think we always have the opportunity to use our talents and the things we enjoy for others. Sometimes it's just finding a way to connect the dots. If you love crafting and want to help kids around the world, you might want to check out Craft Hope. Years ago Jade had these same thoughts. What if we could combine a passion for crafting/hand-making things, with the desire to make a difference in the world? That is just what she does at crafthope.net. She has led campaigns to send super hero capes to kids fighting life-threatening diseases, quilts and comfort items for orphans in the slums of Kenya, dresses for girls in Mexico, and finger puppets to orphans in India (to name a few). She's always starting a new project, and it's awesome to see the results of so many creative people pulling together to make a difference. 

I think these little fairies and houses would be perfect to fit into an Operation Christmas Child Box. There's lots of opportunities to craft for a cause. It's a heartfelt, tangible way to give. What a privilege. 

The way to be happy is to make others so. 
- Robert G. Ingersoll

Thanks for reading. See you soon, friends!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Book Review: Tiffany Girl

Hi! It's a rainy spring day here. The perfect kind of day for curling up with a good book. I just finished reading a sweet novel by Deeanne Gist, called Tiffany Girl. Here's a teaser for you:

"The heir to Tiffany's jewelry empire is left without a staff when glassworkers go on strike just months before the opening of the much-anticipated Chicago World's Fair and the hyped mosaic Tiffany Chapel. Desperate and without another option, Tiffany turns to a group of female art students to finish the job. Flossie Jayne answers the call, moving to a New York City boardinghouse with high hopes of making a name for herself as an artist and defying those who say that the work can't be completed in time--least of all by a set of young, inexperienced women."

You guys, I really liked this book! I'm learning that I'm a sucker for historical fiction. Gist's attention to detail and sincere effort to bring as many true elements to the story as possible really transported me back to 1893. The main character, Flossie, is making the difficult transition from compliant daughter to independent woman, without the help of a husband--something that just wasn't done before the turn of the century.  


What I love about this story is that it's not all happily ever after. Flossie learns to work hard, pursue her dreams, and enjoy success, but not without hardship, and sometimes utter failure. Real life is like that. The characters living at the boardinghouse with Flossie give this tale color, depth, and a love story. I really enjoyed reading the author's note at the end where she sorts out all the real details from the fabricated ones. This was such an interesting time in the history of America, for women, for commerce,  and for art. 

When I got my copy of this book in the mail, the first thing I noticed was how thick it was. I was worried it would take me forever to read. It's 500 pages and I am a slow reader. Once I started reading it though I didn't want to stop. I finished it in 4 days, my fastest read this year. So yeah, you're going to like it. : )

Tiffany Girl will be release on May 5, 2015, you can read more about it and pre-order it here. 


**Just so you know**
I received a free copy of this book from Howard Books, for my honest review. All the opinions here are my own, of course.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Earth Day 2015

Happy Earth Day! I feel like every day is Earth Day around our house, so I like to always take this day to just share a few things we are doing to be green, save some green, and grow some green. We have a backyard compost (which I have talked about here), we recycle way more than we throw away, but my favorite part of the famous earth-friendly trio, is reuse. When we can reuse items to plant gorgeous veggie plants, I feel like we're going green x2. Perhaps the best thing about reusing items is that it always means saving money--my favorite thing to do! 

If you haven't started some seeds inside for your garden this year, Earth Day is the perfect time to get them planted. Set them in a sunny window for the next few weeks, until it's safe to plant outside and you'll enjoy a jump start on the season. Tons of items that you would normally recycle can be reused first as excellent planters. Here's a few we've been using:

Next time you stop by Starbucks (or anywhere with a plastic to-go cup), wash and save the cup, lid and straw, all three can be used to make an awesome mini greenhouse!


Anytime you use a water tight container, you need to make sure to cut a hole for water drainage, otherwise you run the risk of root-rot. Just use a craft knife to cut an "X" in the bottom, or cut a tee-pee shape and press in, to make a triangular opening.


Fill a little more than half-way with potting soil, and plant your seeds. 


Water gently, and snap the top on. Press a finger through the straw opening to loosen it up and make sure some air/heat can escape. Now you have a little greenhouse that will keep the soil temperature extra warm and moist, which helps your seeds sprout faster!


Place your greenhouse cup in the sun and watch it steam up. If you do several cups with different seeds, you can use sticker labels or write directly on the cup so you'll always know what's what. To keep from over watering, just spray your soil every other day with a spray bottle. This  light watering also means you shouldn't have any water dripping out the bottom yet. See how the sides are steamed up?


In a week or less, you should see a little sprout and you are on your way! You can remove the lid once seeds sprout, or keep the lid on until you get the second set of leaves, the ones that look like tiny tomato plant leaves. : ) 


When you remove the top, grab some packing or duct tape and cover over the straw opening on the top of the lid. Then turn it upside down and you have a saucer for your plant to catch the water that will run out the bottom (where you cut your drainage hole). Now you can start watering normally with a watering can or whatever you  like to use. Once your plant is a few inches tall, insert a toothpick halfway in the soil next to it, and slip the straw over the toothpick. This will serve as a little support steak for the plant to keep it from falling over. Pretty cool huh? A whole green house kit, that you would have just thrown out (well, recycled of course).


I am a strong believer that everyone should have a garden. If you have so much as a tiny balcony you can have a one pot mini veggie garden. If you want to save a few dollars, it's so easy to start plants from seeds inside. Whether you are in a small space, or just don't have a lot of sunny windows for starting seeds inside, you can make a small window box using recycled containers. I like to use these salad boxes as a window box tray to put all the plants in and catch the water that drains out. Plus you can easily carry all your plants outside in one container for a little extra sun on warm days. 


If I was planting just one or two pots on a small balcony or porch, I would have the window box below:
1 tomato (get a plant labeled "determinate" for best results in a pot)
2 peppers,
1 4-pack of marigolds to attract pollinators and deter pests
2  small basil plants

These easily fit in one salad box.


You really only need to look as far as your fridge to get all the supplies you need to start your garden indoors. Yogurt containers make great pots, as the lids are perfect saucers, and the size gives your plant lots of room to grow. The Chobani containers would also work great as the greenhouse starters, with the clear lids they have. 


If you really want to start early, you can plant your seeds in early March, but know that they will need a good size container to make it until at least Mother's day when it's safe (here in Colorado anyway) to transplant them outside. Gallon milk jugs work great, just cut off the top and use the bottom as a planter. Don't throw away the top half either; cut the top half into strips and it makes perfect water-proof plant markers!


Here's our peppers all with the milk jug plant markers, keeping everything organized, for free!


I hope you are finding ways to reduce, reuse and if all else fails, recycle. And even more than that filling your space with happy plants. I think the best way to go green is to grow green! 
Have a happy week!


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