Tuesday, December 7, 2010

e-mealz update.

For those that wanted an update on the E-mealz meal planning, we're in our sixth week of it and still love it! And it hasn't cost us a dime yet. In fact, we've made money on it. We paid $15 for a 3-month subscription, and so far we've made $33.13 for referring friends to their site. Click the link below to check it out!

{E-MEALZ Easy Meals for Busy and Frugal Families}

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

at 7 months you...

* Will not keep your socks on.
* Have a third tooth!
* Like to pet dogs, cats, chickens, and any other animal you've met so far.
* Finally have gotten the hang of solid food and LOVE it!
* Can drink out of a sippy cup.
* Roll around on the floor when you want to reach a toy.
* Are growing up way too fast.

Monday, November 22, 2010

the firepit.

Supplies needed:
1 tractor tire rim
3 walnut logs from wood pile
1 bag concrete mix and stain for faux rocks
1 very handy and talented husband

Friday, November 12, 2010

we love suppertime.

We pray and we eat and we talk about our day. We set Shep in his Bumbo seat on the table right next to us while we eat, giving him little tastes of what we're having. But I have to tell you this little secret that has changed our lives. In the past we absolutely dreaded the what-should-we-have-for-dinner-tonight dilemma. Ugh. And I dislike having an empty fridge, which we often do, because I also despise grocery shopping. But no more. Thanks to Emealz. For real. It.is.the.best.

Each week I print off a meal plan for that week, which consists of easy recipes for each night (requiring about 30 minutes of prep time) and a grocery list, arranged by department (i.e. produce, frozen, dairy) for ease of shopping. I email the ready-made shopping list to Winn, who stops at the store for those items on his way home from work (usually on Mondays).

In the above photo we're making tender chicken Parmesan with roasted vegetables. Next up on the menu: sausage-cheese chowder with celery sticks and biscuits! So far I have downloaded four weekly meal plans, and we haven't had a single recipe we didn't like. And almost every night at the dinner table Winn and I will say to each other how much easier (and yummier) mealtimes have been lately. A couple more reasons why we love it:

* You can choose meal plans for anywhere from 2 to 6 people.
* You can indicate if you'd like a vegetarian menu, gluten-free, low-fat, low-carb (no thanks!), etc.
* You can specify the store where you'd like to shop (Walmart, Aldi, etc.), and they will base the menu on the weekly sales.
* So far our grocery bill has been between $35-$45 per week (this doesn't include staple items).
* With the meal plan for 2, there are enough leftovers to pack for Winn's lunch the following day.
* Only the popular recipes are repeated and only every 4-6 months.
* Emealz was created by a stay-at-home mom of four kids and wife of an associate pastor and co-created by her sister, so these are real moms creating simple meals for busy families.

It does cost, but only $1.25 a week, which can easily fit into the grocery budget and which can be recouped by the money saved from buying groceries that you don't end up using and time saved from having to plan meals, make grocery lists, and take last-minute trips to the store for something to make for dinner. You can try a sample menu on their website for free.

Lastly, I have not been asked by anyone to write about this. I saw it mentioned on someone's Facebook comment a while back and decided to give it a try, and we have been oh-so-happy with it! It wasn't until after I had already signed up for Emealz (honest!) that I realized there was a referral program. So if you do sign up, please use the link below, and that way I can earn a commission when you sign up. Thanks!

E-MEALZ Easy Meals for Busy and Frugal Families

Sunday, November 7, 2010

at 6 months you...

* Have two pearly whites.
* Can sit up by yourself.
* Make us so happy with your little giggles and smiles.
* Are taking fewer (and shorter) naps during the day.
* Still shudder and gag when we feed you solid food.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

saturday morning favorites.

Pulling Shep in bed with us and cuddling, playing peek-a-boo, and chattering/Donuts from Otto's Bakery/Working outside/A bottomless pot of coffee/Making things, like banana bread and applesauce/Feeding the chickens/Eating cashews while watching local tv

Monday, October 4, 2010

at 5 months you...

* Wear size 12-month clothes.
* Weigh about 20 pounds.
* Have tried rice cereal.
* Like to play in your ExerSaucer.
* Are rolling over.
* Find the chickens to be very entertaining.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

my favorite moment.

It's that moment when he realizes he's about to be picked up. He grins from ear to ear while his arms and legs start doing the happy dance. I just can't get enough of it.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

baby britches.

If there's anything cuter than a round little baby belly, it would have to be a round little baby belly inside this vest. The Pebble pattern is so generously provided for free over at The Thrifty Knitter. With autumn coming on strong, I thought it was just the thing to knit up for our little man. For yarn I used Patons Shetland Chunky Tweeds in Earthy Brown.

Second on the cuteness scale would have to be these tiny trousers. I always love Anna Maria Horner's patterns and fabric, and her newest book Handmade Beginnings does not disappoint. The pattern for the Quick Change Trousers is just one of the many goodies found in the book. They're easy to whip up (especially in cottons and flannels) and comfy for babe.

The yoke on the back adds a fun detail.

And they're reversible, for little spills and spit-up.

Cuff the bottom, or leave them long.

And Winn's favorite side because, he says, they look like Carhartts. :)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Friday, September 3, 2010

at 4 months you...

* Weigh 17 pounds and 8 ounces.

* Are 28 inches long.

* Are getting to be very good at reaching for things with your hands and putting them right into your mouth.

* Giggle at funny sounds and being tickled.

* Are such a good sleeper, going to bed around 9:30 p.m. and waking up around 8:00 a.m., with a couple of 2- to 3-hour naps throughout the day.

* Still haven't quite cut those two teeth that you've been working on for a month and a half.

* Have been on your first vacation (up North to the lake) and loved being outside all day in the fresh air.

* Make us smile and say "Isn't he the cutest?!" at least 100 times each day.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

fall is in the air.

And I'm SO excited about that!

About digging up the rest of our potatoes and canning our tomatoes...

About knitting a spice-colored sweater for myself...

About the fact that the Golden Girls are finally laying...

About bonfires and pumpkins and piles of leaves. Call me a Minnesota girl, but I love the seasons. All four of them!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

tomato cage lanterns.

My lovely friend Kelly...

...sent me this link and the following note: "Please oh please make these for your farm!! I vote for making them upside down and leaving the prongs on so you can stick them in the ground and they won't blow away."

Your wish is my command, Kel...

They are just the thing for our barn parties! Don't you love them?!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Monday, August 2, 2010

knitter's roll (a tutorial).

I've been wanting to make a holder for knitting needles for a long time. And Sara, my little knitting apprentice, was just the inspiration that I needed. Isn't she the cutest?

She just finished her first big knitting project, a baby blanket for her boyfriend's new niece. I'm so proud of her and wanted to make her a little something. And now that I've made her one, I totally want to make one for myself as well. Isn't this just the handiest thing??

Supplies needed:

* approximately 1/2 yard of fabric
* 2 scraps of coordinating fabric pieces
* Roughly 2 yards of ribbon
* 1/2 yard of thin batting

The finished product will measure 18 inches wide and 15 inches high. We'll be using 1/2-inch seam allowances throughout.

So here we go...and bear with me, as this is my first real tutorial!

1. Dig through your fabric stash for some fun fabric scraps.

2. Raid your ribbon jars and boxes for some coordinating ribbon.

3. Choose which pieces you want to go where, and then we're ready to begin cutting!

4. Cut 2 pieces of the main (background) fabric that are 19 inches by 16 inches. Cut 1 piece of coordinating fabric that is 19 inches by 11 inches. Cut 1 piece of coordinating fabric that is 19 inches by 8 inches. Cut 2 pieces of ribbon that are 19 inches long and 1 piece of ribbon that is approximately 1 yard long.

5. Take your two smaller pieces of fabric, fold one of the long sides under 1/2 inch, and iron flat.

6. This is the part where you'll want to add the 19-inch pieces of ribbon, sewing them along the top edge of the ironed folds.

You don't want to forget this step, or you'll have to go back and rip out the seams later on (*ahem*).

7. Now lay out one of your large fabric pieces and layer the other two pieces on top, largest to smallest, as they will appear on the front (top) of the knitter's roll. Just pretend that there is ribbon on the pieces shown here (sheepish grin).

8. Next lay the second piece of large fabric on top, wrong side up.

9. Pin and sew around outer edges, leaving a gap at the bottom that is large enough to stuff the batting into

10. Clip corners.

11. Turn right side out and iron flat.

12. This is where you'll add the remainder of your ribbon. My piece was about 3 feet long, but it's okay if you don't have quite that much. Fold the ribbon in half to find the middle, and mark it with a straight pin. Then pin to the right side seam, in line with the bottom ribbon on the fabric, and sew, going back and forth a couple times to make sure it's secure.

13. At this point, if you're like me, you may be getting hungry. Go to the fridge and take out the leftover cheeseburger from dinner the night before, reheat, and load with toppings.

14. Be sure and add lots of pickles.

15. After eating, go over and snuggle your baby for a few minutes, because he is just too irresistible.

16. Okay, back to work! The next step is to cut a piece of batting that is 17 1/2 by 14 1/2 inches. I like the "Warm and Natural" blanket batting, and I keep a stash of it in my sewing lockers.

17. Stuff the batting through the opening, making sure that it lays nice and flat inside.

18. Pin the gap closed and sew all the way around the outside of the piece, staying close to the edge (about 1/8 to 1/4 inch).

When sewing along the bottom edge where the gap is, make sure that you're catching the back layer of fabric as you go.

19. Almost done! Now we're ready to make the lines for the knitting needle pockets. A fabric pen would be ideal for this step, but if you don't have one on hand, you can use pins to mark the lines. I wanted one wider pocket and three thinner pockets, so I measured and marked the bottom of the piece with pins at 6 inches, 10 inches, and 14 inches.

20. Then do the same at the top of the piece and place pins in between, making a straight line to follow while sewing.

21. Lastly, sew along all three lines.

Congratulations! You're finished!

Fill with all your knitting needles...

...and roll up and tie for easy storing and mobility!