Muffin Tin Snow

Last week we had a snow day, and no snow day would be complete without a snow lunch.  So we had my version of snowmen on a stick, a snowflake tortilla with powdered sugar, snowflake quesadillas, and some coconut yogurt.

For the snowmen I used chopped pieces of raisin to make the faces and buttons, with a little slice of carrot for the nose, and then completely forgot about their arms.  I put the bananas on a bamboo skewer I cut in half.

I used uncooked tortillas and a snowflake cookie cutter to make the quesadilla and the sweet snowflake.

The yogurt was some of my plain yogurt, that I added a little unsweetened coconut and some honey to.

It was the perfect end to our snow day.

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Week In Review: Love

This week we started our lessons on love from the Nursery Manual, to prepare us for our lessons on family next week.  We had a lot of fun this week, and I'm really looking forward to starting our family lessons next week, because we're spending the whole month of February focused on the Family Proclamation.

A few of you have asked me about the coloring pages that the little ones are doing to go along with the lessons.  These pages come directly from the Nursery Manual, and you can download them from the page above by clicking on the download button for the lesson you're interested in.  Let me know if you need any help.

On Monday we had to drop daddy off at the airport, and when we got home it was raining cats and dogs, so we finished up our Rainy Day Bingo cards, but building something together.  Manly and I built a house, with a fence, a garden, a garage, and that tall thick tower is "Uncle Mike's truck".  We may be a little in love with big trucks here!  :)
We also made chocolate chip cookies as part of Bingo, and because we needed a Family Home Evening (FHE) treat.  Lettie took her job of taste testing the chocolate chips very seriously!
And everyone wanted to make sure the batter tasted good before we went through the effort of baking the cookies.  Luckily the dough was good, so it was worth it to bake them. 
Since we were gone to the airport most of the day we had our intended school lesson for FHE and learned that "Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ Love Me".  I love the excitement of Manly's face.  Isn't it a beautiful thing to know that we are loved by the Father and the Savior?!
On Tuesday we learned that "Christ Showed us how to Love Others," and made dinner for a family at church who's mom was sick and in the hospital.  I hadn't intended to do an application lesson on showing others love, but I was so grateful that the Lord put a plan in place for us to do this.  The children were so excited to follow the Savior's example and show love to others.
 We also had our "Snow Day" on Tuesday.
On Wednesday we learned about how important it is to love the scriptures.  We talked about how much we can learn from the scriptures, and made little puppets and then used them to tell stories from the scriptures.  It was sweet to hear what each of them felt they could learn from Adam and Eve, Moses, and Noah.
I've decided to add in a math activity one afternoon a week, and right now I'm using this super cute "Hickory Dickory Math".  I got it at a teaching convention several years ago, and unfortunately it looks like it's out of print now, but I did see a few used copies available. 
This week we read the story of the Ugly Duckling, and after we cut out our ducks we sorted them by their physical features.  Once they were sorted there was only one left, and it was our beautiful swan.  We counted and checked to see which group had more ducks and which had less.  This was great for a moral lesson on love as well.  We talked about how the other ducks were mean to the ugly duckling because he looked different, but that in reality he was a beautiful swan, and how even though other people may look or act different than we do, they are still beautiful children of God.
On Thursday we learned about how important it is to love others, and did some role playing to practice loving others. 
Friday school was in recess, as we took a trip back to the airport to pick daddy up again.  We had lots of fun looking at airports, and listening to the different languages other people spoke in the International Terminal.  We also learned all about customs officers and airport security, so maybe school wasn't in recess after all.

On Saturday we had some family fun as we moved my orange tree into the front yard.  Manly had a good time digging, and Bitsy had a good time making sure the hole was deep enough for the tree.  We also planted some onions, mint, citronella, and basil, and transplanted some strawberries.
 After all of that hard work we were pretty hungry, so we came inside and had our Chinese New Year feast.  Thanks to our sweet friend Tessy we had table decorations straight from Hong Kong!
We used the recipes from "The Story About Ping" in the Five In A Row cookbook to make egg rolls, fried rice, and egg drop soup.  Since I didn't have enough Lei See envelopes, envelopes for everyone, I picked up boxes of Poki Sticks, and we finished off the meal with some fortune cookies and traditional oranges.   
We spent a lot more time out of our house, and in our car than usual, and honestly there were days when I felt completely exhausted, but I was so grateful the little opportunities that presented themselves all week long to slow down and make some family memories.  It was such a testament to me that the Father is aware of each of us, and that His plan is so marvelous.

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Dashing Through The Snow

Snow in Southern California?!  Well, no, but my little ones were so disappointed when we went all the way to Salt Lake and there wasn't snow for them to play in, that they are still asking when we're going to have snow.  

My children are snow babies...  Literally.  It snowed on the day each of them was born.  A winter without snow, is like no winter at all for them, and it was more than their mama's heart could take.  So, earlier this week I decided to take things into my own hands, and we had a SNOW DAY!!! (See, the weather chart says so, so it must be true.)  :)

I started our snow day by changing our weather chart, and immediately the little ones knew that something was up.  Then I asked them to check our book basket.
All of our books had "suddenly" changed to books about snow!  In it they found "Owl Moon" by Jane Yolen, "Snowmen At Night" by Caralyn Buehner, "The Three Snow Bears" by Jan Brett, "The Mitten" by Alvin Tresselt, and "Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost and illustrated by Susan Jeffers.  After we looked through all of the books, we grabbed them and snuggled in on the couch covered in blankets, with the blinds closed so we didn't have to work as hard at pretending it was really snowing outside.
After our story time, we decided to get out the "snow" we made earlier in the week.  I know most people call this cloud dough, but as I was making it with my children, they immediately said, "Oh mom, we made snow", so it has been named snow dough in our house, and was a perfect addition to our day. 

It's only fair to warn you, that this dough is significantly messier than most other doughs we've made, and Manly created a bit of a blizzard.  (My first reaction was NOT to call it a blizzard, but to be horribly angry, luckily I caught myself before we went to far down that road!)
This picture was taken after I cleaned the blizzard up off of the floor, the dinner table, the bench, and believe it or not, him!  If you're child happens to make a blizzard, it is much more effective to sweep or vacuum it first, and then use a sponge to clean up any residue.  Trust me, starting out with a wet rag, makes a HORRID paste all over your surfaces. 
After our snow removal, we were all pretty hungry, so we had a delicious snow themed muffin tin meal.  (I'll post all about it on Monday.  I posted about it here.)
And as a little treat, after everyone was in bed mama had a hot chocolate and marshmallow snowman.

We had a wonderful snow day, and hope you do too, whether you have real snow or not!

Linking to:

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Snow Dough

Since I didn't put together a sensory bin or make play dough in December, and I was feeling to worn out to try to put anything together for January, when I saw this "cloud dough" last week, I was inspired.  This was a perfect combination of sensory bin and play dough, all in one container!
Our flour is in bulk in our food storage area, and everyone piled in to help.
The original recipe called for 8 cups of flour and 1 cup of baby oil, but since I didn't have any baby oil, we used vegetable oil instead.  We needed about a 1 1/4 cups of oil to make the dough a mold able consistency.  I wanted it to have a scent, and the little ones choose to add a little mint extract.
Finally we added some cotton "snow" balls, a few little snowflake buttons I had around, and some shovels for digging, and we've been having wintry fun ever since!

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Food Storage 101: Bugs

Last week, I gave a pretty short answer about bugs in the food storage, but since it's a question I've gotten several times, I want to give a little more information about it.  I have to be completely honest though, this post is going to be short and non-pictorial, because the whole subject creeps me out, and makes me itch.  I seriously don't do bugs!

Now that we have that all cleared up, let's get to the real information.  :)

In the last eight years, I have only had one infestation of any type, and that was of some unidentified bug in my 6 gallon bucket of oats.  After that my solution has always been to freeze my bulk grains for at least 48 hours, but let's be honest, I usually forget and they sit in there for a week, before I put them into my plastic buckets.  Since I started doing that I've never had a problem.

The most important thing is to keep your containers in a cool, dry place, and make sure you are buying from a reliable source.  If you're doing that there's no reason to be to concerned about an insect infestation.  

If you're interested in reading more thorough and authoritative information on the subject, I highly recommend looking at the information put out by the Colorado State University Extension Office (fair warning, this one includes pictures of the gross little pests), and the Utah State University Extension Office.  You can also Google "Bugs in Food Storage" and get all sorts of information.

So now that we've talked about how to store food, and how to keep it bug free, what other questions do you have?  I'd love to help answer them if I can.  Leave me a comment, or email me at alrawlins at msn dot com.

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Week In Review: I Will (Part 2)

This week we continued our "I will" lessons, after enjoying a fun filled day with daddy on Monday.

We started the week learning to be happy, and singing one of my favorite songs, "Smiles".  Being happy came easy for the little ones during this school lesson, as I agreed to have school outside that day.

They loved using these little faces to turn frowns into smiles along with the song, and of course our lesson on happiness wouldn't be complete without a rousing round of "If You're Happy and You Know It."  Apparently our lesson on sharing last week really stuck, because at one point Bitsy was singing, "If you're happy and you know it share your smiles!"  Needless to say, Mommy was sharing lots of smiles!
On Wednesday we learned about reverence, and had a little coloring and cutting fun, with the handout from the Nursery Manual.  We also did some role playing around the house speaking, walking, and acting reverently.  We had marked improvement during our daily family devotionals, and at Church on Sunday!
Thursday and Friday's lessons were combined on Friday, because we had some unexpected changes with Daddy's work, and I spent some time catching up with old friends.  Unfortunately, then I didn't get any pictures of our fun, but I can tell you, playing "Follow the Leader" with a 3 and 5 year old, is pretty exciting!  We learned about the importance of following the prophet, and following Christ.  We specifically talked about following Christ's example in being baptized.

Saturday was grey and rainy, so we got out our Rainy Day Bingo cards again.  In my decluttering daddy came across some squirt guns from last summer, and had told the little ones they could play with them in the tub that evening, but since one of our bingo squares was to "wash a window" we decided to put them to immediate use!  If you ever want your children to wash your windows, this is the way to go!!!  Mine are crystal clear now!
We also talked about leap year, and that conversation wouldn't be complete without a little Leap Frog!  We also played hide and seek, but I couldn't give my position away by taking pictures.  :)
 There was also lots of loving on daddy, by little Lettie!
And since she didn't get in on much of the school action, I thought I'd throw in some of her eating action.  She gets really passionate about her oranges!!!  I love teaching good eating habits at a young age.
I have to say, I have really missed Five in a Row, but to see the changes that have come in my children's hearts over the last few months, and especially the last two weeks, has been such a beautiful lesson for me in the importance of following the Father's plan.  I could never have imagined this, but I am so grateful I stepped forward in faith!

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Near, Far, Wherever You Are

Have you ever read "The Runaway Bunny" by Margaret Wise Brown?  It's a precious story of a precocious little bunny, and how his mother shows him that no matter where he may go she will always search him out and find him.  In the end the little bunny decides he may as well just stay where he is, with his loving mother.

I would guess that between my children I've read it going on a hundred times now, but as I read it today I was really struck.  I thought about how mother's will go to the ends of the earth for their children.  How many of us literally walk "through the valley of the shadow of death" in bringing children into the world, how willing we are to care for our children, to sacrifice sleep, and dreams.

And as I pondered that, I thought about an even greater love.  I thought about the love of the Father, and the love of the Savior.  I thought of 1 Nephi 22:25, which tells us that:
"He gathereth his children from the four quarters of the earth; and he numbereth his sheep, and they know him; and there shall be one fold and one shepherd; and he shall feed his sheep, and in him they shall find pasture."

Our Father in Heaven loves us so much that He too will find us wherever we are, He will care for us, He will lead us, and He will love us.  There is no place to far, or to dark for Him to lift us out.  Rather than stray, maybe we should take a lesson from that little bunny, and just decide to stay with Him.

This post is part of the Book of Mormon Forum.  Jocelyn is also giving away a beautiful family tree as part of this month's blog hop, so leave me a comment, and then go let her know, so you can have a chance to win!

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Warm Hands, Warm Heart

When we were in Salt Lake during Christmas my husband saw some reusable hand warmers, and he was completely fascinated by them.  The trouble was, that to reheat them you needed to boil them in water or microwave them, and in his line of work, those are two things he's usually not going to have access to at the same time he needs reusable hand warmers.

Because they were fairly expensive as well, it didn't take much effort to talk him out of them, but I love my husband.  I always want him to be warm and comfortable, especially when I'm not there to take care of that, so when I saw these cute rice bag hand warmers I was inspired!
I did a quick google search on how to reheat a rice bag without a microwave and discovered that wrapped in foil they can be places in an oven to reheat.  Again, he won't always have access to an oven or foil, but he will always have access to MRE heaters, and they will do just the job.

So while my sweet husband was at work last week I took about twenty minutes and an old pair of cammies, so they're inconspicuous, and made him his own little rice bags.  I skipped the cinnamon and orange though...and the hearts, even though it is our anniversary.  :)

For the two small ones my fabric was about 2 1/2" by 7", and they fit nicely in the palm of the hand, and were EXTREMELY hot after being microwaved for 45 seconds.  (Next time I'll try them for 30 seconds.)  The larger one underneath was made from one of his pockets, and measures about 4" by 5" finished, and was just about right after 45 seconds.

These were quick and easy, and would make a great little addition to a 72 hour kit, or any other preparedness items you have.

Linking to Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways

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Food Storage 101: Wheat

 Today I'm back with the next question about food storage:

Can you talk to me about hard red wheat?  I am not familiar with it and don't have a clue how to use it.  Have you had issues with bugs in it as you store it?

We're going to talk about the bugs next week, but essentially that is a moisture problem.  If wheat is less than 10% moisture, the weevils can't live there, so make sure you're getting your wheat from a good source, and then keeping it in a cool, dry place.

Now, I know that the question is about hard red wheat, but let's start with a little clarification of types of wheat.  There are essentially three types of wheat.

First, you have hard red wheat. ( A huge thank you to my friend Denice who took this picture for me so I didn't have to open up and refill my bucket of red wheat this morning.)
Then you have hard white wheat.
And finally, you have soft white wheat.
Occasionally you will hear people talk about spring and winter wheat, and all that distinguishes is when the wheat was harvested, in the spring or in the winter.  That I'm aware of it doesn't effect anything, so I'm happy with whatever season my wheat came from, as long as it's putting bread on the table. :)

The difference between hard and soft wheat is the protein content.  Hard wheat has anywhere from 12-15% protein, with hard red generally having higher protein than hard white, although the difference is pretty nominal. 

You'll notice in the soft wheat that the kernel is a little larger, and appears to have "opened" a little.  Soft wheat is only available in white wheat, and is what I use to make muffins, cakes, and any other type of pastries or "light" baked product.

As far as the hard wheat goes, in addition to the difference in protein, there is the obvious difference of the color, (although red wheat isn't really red, it's just a redder shade of brown), and there is a slight variation in the taste.  The hard red has a little nuttier taste.  From what I have read because there is less protein in the hard white some people say it is easier to digest than the hard red, but I've never noticed any difference personally. 

Now, what do I use it for?  In short, everything!  :)  If you eat anything in my home you can be absolutely certain you are getting 100% whole wheat. 

My preference for baking is hard white wheat, with the exception of the things listed above.  I use it primarily to make bread, pizza crust, biscuits, cookies, and pancakes.

My red wheat I generally use when I am keeping the kernel whole, as in soups and casseroles.  If I am ever brave enough and have enough time it's what I will use to make "wheat meat".

I realize the "what to use it for" is a pretty broad answer, but I hope that gives you a basic idea.  If there's a specific recipe you'd like let me know, and I'm happy to share it.

As I mentioned last week, this is not something that happened for our family over night, this was a transition that took time.  I don't want anyone to feel overwhelmed! 

You'll notice I am most often using wheat as a flour, which is why I LOVE my Nutrimill, because I just grind my own.  The easiest way to start introducing wheat is to begin substituting it for something else.  In the case of baked goods add some wheat flour instead of the white flour, or in a soup add a small handful in with the beans as you soak and cook them.  

I'm happy to share all of this information, and again, if you have a question, please feel free to email me at alrawlins at msn dot com.

Happy wheat eating!

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Muffin Tin Breakfast

I have to give a HUGE thank you to Julie at Teaching Good Eaters for our delicious Muffin Tin breakfast!

We have never really done cold cereal for breakfast, but I had never considered using a muffin tin for breakfast for anything besides muffins until I saw her recipe for French Toast muffins.  The only change we made to the recipe was to use full size muffin tins.  They were so good there wasn't a single one left! 

So, go check out the recipe, I promise, you'll thank Julie too!

(You can see more Muffin Tin Meals here.)

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Week In Review: I Will...

This week we started back into our normal routine, and got back to our school lessons from our Church Nursery Manual, but I did things a little differently than before we took our break for Christmas school. 

Instead of making each lesson a week long study, I decided to start going through the "I will..." chapters one day at a time.

We never finished "I Will Share" before Thanksgiving, so that's where we started.  We did a little coloring, and a little cutting of the handout that was included in the manual.
Then we added them the individual squares to our cubes, and took turns rolling them.  We sang "Fun to Do" substituting the words from our cubes.  So instead of "singing a song" we would sing "sharing my smiles", "sharing my smiles", etc.  The little ones had a blast, and sang the songs all week long.
Next we moved on to "I Will Say 'I'm Sorry'".  We took turns coming up with stories and examples of times when we needed to say "I'm sorry" and somehow in all of the excitement I forgot to get any pictures.  There was a definite increase of sorrow in our home though!

We finished our lessons with "I Will Obey".  To start I let the little ones pull different items that can protect us out of a bag, and they were very quick to realize that everything in the bag offered protection.  Then I explained how obedience to parents and to the Lord also protects us.  Bitsy and Manly were kind enough to put everything on so you could see how safe they are!  :)
We also played Simon Says for the first time, with some pretty comical results!  Bitsy liked it so much, that she even asked to be Simon, and let me tell you, we were all on our toes then!  It was such a sweet moment to see how she's growing up.
In addition to our manual, I also used "Manners Please" which is a cute little reprinted book on manners from the 40's.  My favorite part of it is the little rhyme at the end of each manner that helps children remember.  Bitsy has close to half of the poems memorized, and repeats them to herself quite often throughout the day when she needs a little reminder.  If we're having trouble with a specific manner, I usually only have to say the first few words of the poem before they correct themselves.  It's a great little book!

Since we were still easing back into our routine, we also took a day to just play, and do things like pop packaging with crayons.  (It's amazing what children will think up all on their own!)
And, of course, we had to have a little food fun, so we made shapes out of our mini quiches, and whoever could identify the shape got to eat it. 
To end our week we took a field trip to the dentist.  :)  Everyone loves a field trip, right?  Bitsy actually loves getting her teeth cleaned, and after our trip so does Manly.  The hygenist was great, she explained about bacteria that live in the plaque, and let the little ones count each others teeth.   They were surprised to find that they had the same number.  It really was a pretty educational experience, and a cavity free one!

Lettie skipped the cleaning, but sure explored everything she could, and afterwords made sure to show us her pearly whites at lunch.
It was a great week of singing, crafting, playing, and learning more about how to be who the Lord wants us to be!

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Food Storage 101

I know there are several of you who read hoping that I'll share more about my food storage, and recipes I use, for you, I have good news!  My sister in-law and her roommate have started working on their food storage and emailed me to ask me if they could ask me questions about what I've done over the years.  Of course I told them yes, and after I started thinking about it I decided I would answer their questions here on the blog, for any of the rest of you who are wondering.  I'm hoping to make this a weekly post every Wednesday.  For that to happen though, I'm going to need you to ask questions!  :)

For those of you who don't know, food storage is one of my favorite hobbies.  (I know, I'm kind of strange.)  Seriously, though, I get a thrill out of making things from scratch, and shopping from my own pantry.  I feel like it's my contribution to the family finances to cook and eat providently, since I stay home with the little ones.  I also enjoy following the counsel of the leaders of our Church to live providently.

Now, on to the questions.  

"You recommended brands of equipment but as I was driving I didn't write them down.  Can you tell me again, brands of water canner, pressure canner, pressure cooker, grinder and dehydrator?"

First, the canners.  Because of weight and space limitations that are a part of military life, I only have a pressure canner.  I can use it as a water bath canner simply by not putting the weight on it that causes it to pressurize.  I own an All-American Pressure Canner 921 (21 Quart).  I choose this because rather than a plastic seal that needs to be replaced, it has a metal on metal seal, and because it has a weighted pressure regulator in addition to the pressure gauge.  

The metal seal is important to me because I don't always know where I'll live, and whether or not I will be able to get a replacement seal.  If you are moving a lot, the weight is essential to your pressure canner.  With just a gauge every time your canner gets moved, bumped, etc. you will need to take it in to get it tested to make sure it is reading the proper PSI.  Since most people don't use canners anymore the only place I know that still tests them is the County Extension office.  (If you don't know what this is Google the name of the county you live in "extension office", and enjoy reading!)  Even if you're not moving frequently, if you have only a gauge it is recommended that you have it checked every year, because if it is inaccurate you could have food spoil, or a canner explode.
This is the lid of my pressure canner, on the left you can see the pressure gauge, and on the right the weight, there are three holes on the weight that determine the amount of pressure.
A pressure cooker can NOT be used to can, but it can be used for all sorts of cooking.  The brand I own is B-R-K, but I would guess anything made of stainless steel, that's the right size for your family would be great.

My grinder is a Nutrimill, and I LOVE it!!!!  It has a lifetime warranty, and yes, I have used it.  The motor on my first one went out, and within a week of sending it in to the company, I received a brand new one in the mail.  It is fairly quiet, has a large milling capacity, and a great warranty.  I can't say enough good about it.

The last piece of equipment is a dehydrator, I have a Nesco Gardenmaster Pro Food Dehydrator.  I like it because I can add and take away trays depending on how much I am drying.  Even with the heat coming up through the center I've always had things dry evenly.  One of the features a lot of them have now, that I wish I had, was a timer, that automatically turns the dryer off.  This is really helpful if something's supposed to finish in the middle of the night when you'd rather be sleeping than dehydrating.  :)

When starting my food storage, what recommendations would you make as far as storage options - ie, canning in jars vs canning in cans vs Mylar pouches vs buckets?

Before I answer this, this deserves a little explanation for those of you who don't belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  We have been counseled by the leaders of our Church for years to have as much food stored as possible, preferably a years supply.  To help us in this endeavor there are Home Storage Centers located across the U.S. where we are able to buy food, and can it into pouches or #10 cans.  We can also buy bulk 25lb bags of food as well.  These centers are open to the public, and you can see if there is one near you, and what they carry here.

I use canning jars for two things, one is to keep smaller amounts of foods and spices that I have in bulk in my kitchen.  As an example, I keep a quart jar full of cornmeal in the kitchen, while I keep the remaining 75 lbs. in my food storage area.  The other thing I use them for is fairly obvious I guess, and that's canning.
Some of this years canning
I think the answer to cans vs. pouches vs. buckets is fairly individual.  I did pouches once, because they take up less space when they aren't opened.  The trouble comes when you open them, you then you have to have a way to store the rest of the contents because you can't reseal the pouch.  I'm sure there are other pros to using the pouches, but for me they just didn't work out.
5 and 6 gallon buckets of bulk foods
Number 10 cans







I store most things in 5 or 6 gallon plastic buckets.  When buying buckets, make sure you get food grade!  I prefer the buckets because I can store 20-25 lbs of food in them depending on what the food is.  This takes up less room than the #10 cans, plus I usually get a better price on 25 or 50 lb bags of food than I can on the 2-5 lbs that's going to be in the can.  If you have plenty of space, and like the convenience of having the food stored in smaller containers than cans may work great for you.  

I hope this has been helpful to some of you.  Please remember, I'm by no means an expert.  The recommendations I make are based solely on my personal experience.  I've spent the last eight years learning how to store and use the food we have, none of this happened overnight, including the purchasing of the equipment I own.  It is something I feel passionate about, and I want to encourage others in any way that I can.

If you have questions you'd like me to answer you can email them to me at alrawlins at msn dot com or leave a comment, and I'll be happy to answer in a future post.

I'm also going to link this post up to Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways.

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Handmade Christmas

Yeah, I know, it's January, but I wanted to post a few of the things we did for Christmas, in case you need inspiration for birthdays, or you want to get a REALLY early head start for next Christmas.  I think I need to get a head start, because I didn't get anywhere close to finishing the projects I wanted to.  

So, here are some of the handmade Christmas gifts from our home this year.

Bitsy had the BEST Primary teacher in the entire Church last year!  This woman, is amazing.  The children were always coloring, painting, playing with play dough, and learning about the Gospel, so we wanted to give her a little gift to say thank you.  (I am secretly hoping that she's going to be Manly's Primary teacher this year.)
 We sorted all of our broken crayons by color into our Christmas muffin tin, and put it in the oven at 250 for about 10 minutes.  Then let them cool, to get these little beauties.
 Bitsy is the hostess with the mostest, and she LOVES to set a fancy table, but sometimes she still gets a little confused on where all the silverware goes, so I made up a set of these place mats for her.  I traced each piece of silverware onto some fabric I had from a tablecloth that had been ruined, and traced the plates onto some old napkins, and voila, place mats at no cost. 

From experience, I highly recommend doing a very narrow, but tall zigzag stitch, to make sure you don't have to go back over it because some of the fabric came up.  :)  I also put a little fabric glue on each piece to keep it in place, since they were a little narrow to pin.  (And, I really hate pinning!)  :)
 Manly had this rug in his room, and the white stripes had gotten stains somehow, that no matter what I tried I couldn't get out.  So, I added a little fabric clue, and a piece of green canvas...
 And made a little road map for him.  I used glue rather than sewing it, because I was running short on time.  If you're going to do this I would recommend using felt instead of flannel (which is what I used) to make sure it doesn't unravel on you once it's played with.  If you do use flannel, make sure you get right up to the sides of the fabric.  I'm going to be getting some more glue in the next few days and doing some touch up work.  Also, if you decide to use glue, I went through two 4oz. bottles of Aileen's permanent fabric glue.
 When we got to grandma and grandpa's we found that grandma had been busy working on a handmade holiday as well.  Each of the little ones got a new pillowcase, and these cute quillows.  It is a flannel blanket with a pocket for the blanket to fold up into to make a pillow.  Or, in Bitsy's case, to put your feet in to keep them warm.  :)  She had even embroidered each of their names on them.
Grandma has also sewn a quilt for each of the grandchildren, and Manly got his for his birthday.  It is the most adorable Eye Spy quilt. 
Each square has a different bright pattern in it, for him to search for special objects.  There are trucks, tools, beach scenes, and animals to name a few.  As soon as we got home he decided to take his comforter off, and put his quilt on his bed.  We've spent time every day finding things all over his quilt.  To say he loves it would be an understatement!
We all got these cute canvas bags as well.  They have our names on them, so there's no confusion about ownership, and there are pockets outside and in.  (I LOVE pockets!)  Mine has already become my Church bag, and Bitsy has decided hers is her "market bag" (she named it) and has taken it with us to every store we've gone to since.  

I hope you had a wonderful holiday, and that some of these ideas will help you throughout the year, and as you plan for next Christmas!

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