Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Waste Not Want Not

In my last blog, I talked about my Gramma,
saver of the thumbtacks.

Gramma and Grandpa lived in a small town in
ND and raised three children together.
If they needed something
but didn't have the money,
they didn't buy it,
even if it was food they needed.
The government never bailed them out,
bought them clothes, food or shelter.
They planted gardens,
sewed clothing from feed and food sacks,
hunted, fished and bartered.

If my Grandma had a scrap of fabric, it went toward a quilt.
If she had more than an inch of yarn,
it went towards an afghan.
If she shortened a slip,
she would carefully roll up the trimmed fabric
and tie it with a bit of leftover thread.

My ancestors could pinch a penny so hard,
they made a booger come out of Lincoln's nose.

They epitomized the saying,
Waste Not Want Not.

So, when I'm crafting, the generational burden of frugality weighs heavily upon me.

Decorating for Grace's Graduation was a challenge.

I knew I wanted to use my new Cuttlebug, an embossing and die cut machine
 I purchased  this year with a 40% off coupon.

After Grace finally chose her colors,
I purchased sheets of 12x12 scrapbook paper.

Yea, they were on sale.
Gramma would be proud.
So would her thrifty daughter, my mom Mary.

I cut the sheets into the proper sized squares,
and began rolling them through the Cuddlebug
using this Sizzix template.

This was left.

I really, really, really wanted to throw the paper away.

I just couldn't.
So, I didn't.

Ya' know, that whole "roll over in her grave" thing?

 I stared at the scraps of paper for a long time,
knowing there were still a lot of use left.
I also knew sometimes I save and save and save stuff,
but don't use it.

I dared myself to boldly walk to the garbage can
 and throw the scraps away.

I couldn't.
So, I didn't.

I took out the 1 inch hole punch,
and punched away.

Then I had a pile of scraps I thought I might justify throwing away.

But, I couldn't.
So, I didn't.

The scraps were cut into smaller squares,
and cut with a smaller flower template.

Then I had a pile of scraps I thought I might justify throwing away.

But, I couldn't.
So, I didn't.

 I  cut the scraps into even smaller squares,
and cut them with an even smaller flower template.

Then I had a pile of scraps I thought I might be able to justify throwing away.
Surely my Mom and Gramma would be satisfied with my frugality.

But, I couldn't.
So, I didn't.

I pulled out my mortarboard punch and began punching away.

At this point, my blogging/homeschooling/Hippy/ Mommy friend,
decided to help me out.

I think she just wanted to see me finally throw the paper out.

When we punched a bajillion brightly colored mortarboards,
I forced myself to do something my people just don't do.


Every smidgeon of brightly colored paper
was tossed into the huge garbage can.

I could.
So, I did.

(And just wait until I show you
what I made with all those
flowers and
circles and

Monday, June 27, 2011

My Grandma's Thumbtacks

While decorating for Graduation,
Rebekah came up with the great idea of just pinnning the yo flowers
to the wooden deck railing.

We were running out of time,
and the job needed to just get done.

There would be no fabric swoons or buntings,
we would have to just use what was finished.

Great idea.

But, great.

Where would I find thumbtacks?

I had a vague memory of thumbtacks squirreled away somewhere.
They were in something of my Gramma's....

After a few false digs through drawers,
I found them.

Oh yea, they were in
the old prescription bottle on display in my bathroom.


You don't decorate with  the bottles from
YOUR gramma's old blood pressure pills?

There are a few things I inhereted that are just too precious to change.
I was given her three drawer sewing cabinet,
with tid-bits that could tell tales if they could speak.

She saved everything.
She used everything.
She had to.

The daughter of Norwegian immigrants married to a Norwegian immigrant,
hard work and
the "make-do or do-without"
ethics ruled their lives.
It was survival of the fittest and the frugalist at its best.

The Lord chastises lasiness and wastefulness, too.

Proverbs 18:9
He also that is slothful in his work
 is brother to him that is a great waster.

A cough drop tins holds tiny screws and nails.
An aspirin bottles hold needles.
Every container holds a surprise,
including the one that holds her extra garter belt hooks.

I wondered how old these thumbtacks really were.

I can't imagine Gramma bought them new,
she probably bought them used,
or found them,
but I know she hoarded them.

What did Gramma use them for?
Hanging up the new calendar from the grain elevator?
Pinning a shopping list to the inside of her kitchen cupboard?

Or did she save them
she needed them?

There was a heart-warming nostalgia I felt
as I touched each metal tack,
and I felt that in some small way,
Gramma was celebrating Graduation with us.

And, when Graduation was over,
the thumbtacks were carefully removed
and returned to the medicine bottle.

Those little metal thumbtacks are a silent prick to my conscience,
because each generation has become a little more affluent
and a little more wasteful, compared to Gramma.

I wonder if any of my kids or grandkids will be
 thrilled to inherit

one of my most precious  possessions~
this little bottle of thumbtacks,
the silent preacher of the values of our ancestors.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Thirst-Quenching Deliciousness

When my niece, Kjersti,  got married two summers ago,
my amazing sister-in-law, Susan,
cooked the ENTIRE wedding meal.
She even made  biscotti to go with the coffee.

In their honor,
I copycatted one of their ideas for Grace's graduation open house
and served Italian Sodas for the beverage.

They're fun, festive and since the syrups come in a huge variety of flavors,
 there's something to please everyone.

Because I knew it would be a bit fussy to serve,
I bought platsic cups and lids from Cash&Carry
and filled them with ice ahead of time.

This crate held 24 cups and went  right into the freezer.
If there had been room in the freezer, I would have filled more cups.
It was a great time saver!

We set up the display, using little cups from Beka's toy dishes
so each flavor had their own one ounce measuring cup.

The pumps were more expensive than the flavorings,
so we didn't buy them for the party.
We bought a strawberry, mango, blueberry, 
vanilla and my personal favorite,

The directions were printed out and displayed behind the bottles.

The recipe is
one ounce of flavoring,
one ounce of half-and-half,
then fill the cup with Club soda.

Others buy the domed lids and top off with whipping cream.

I toyed with the idea of making labels for the cups,
but never came up with any great ideas.
Am taking suggestions....

Of course, Grandpa Jim's vintage cooler held the Club soda
and half-and-half below.

Note for next function -
I was wishing I had asked someone to be the Soda Jerk for the party.
There are always friends who would love to help,
and it would have been great to have someone manning this station
and someone else to refill food trays.
If you are hosting, it's really important to be able to mingle with your guests.

An adorable guest enjoying a strawberry Italian soda.

I plan to keep my shelf stocked with cups, lids, straws and Club Soda
so all our summer get-togethers will feature our new favorite beverage,
Italian Sodas!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Do Ya' Want S'More?

S'Mores have become an American tradition,
like baseball and apple pie.

But, seriously, I think they're loved  more than apple pie.

That's why they're called S'mores.

After eating one, they always wanted some more.

Serving this treat at a campfire can cause technical difficulties.

Usually, the bag of marshmellows gets ripped open crooked,
the plastic bag tearing down the side and stretching the words like silly putty.
Half the white puffs are touched by dirty fingers,
the other half fall in the dirt.

There is always someone that says
"OH, I don't like S'Mores,"
and they just eat all the chocolate.

Add the frustration of trying to break graham crackers
perfectly on the perforated lines and until you shove one in your mouth
you might be wondering if it's worth the hassle.

Grace's graduation party was going to end with S'Mores and a campfire,
and I needed to be efficient and festive.

I started with the ingredients and  cellophane gift bags.

First I cut the graham crackers perfectly,
then filled each bag with two crackers,
two marshmellows and a small candy bar.

I LOVE my S'Mores with a Reese's peanut butter cup.
They're softer and the chocolate melts faster
than the solid chocolate bars.

Plus, peanut butter is good for you, right?

If you love coconut, you'll love S'mores with a Mounds.

My friend, Natalie, skips the chocolate bars and uses fudge-striped cookies.
This works especially well for younger kids.

Bags were tied with curling ribbon
and placed in a basket.

All set for the campfire!

I'm planning on preparing this way for our summer camping trip, too.

My mouth isn't the only thing crying out for more,
my heart is longing for more, as well.

Unlike the parent who has to say NO to too many treats,
the Lord doesn't say NO when we ask for more.

He has more precious thoughts towards us...

Psalm 139:17-18a
How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!
If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand;

He annoints us more...

Psalm 45:7

You love righteousness and hate wickedness;Therefore God,
Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.

He provides for us more...

Matthew 6:30
Now if God so clothes the grass of the field,
which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven,
will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

He gives to us more...

Matthew 7:11
If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will your Father who is in heaven
give good things to those who ask Him!

He cherishes us more...

Luke 12:7

But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Our reaction should be more...

Psalm 71:14
But I will hope continually,
And will praise You yet more and more.

So, do ya' want S'More?


Friday, June 17, 2011

Pick a Color, Any Color

When Grace and I were planning her Graduation Open House,
we quickly realized we were approaching the elephant from opposite sides.
She saw a trunk,
I saw a tail.

Our view was worlds apart.

When I began asking her about the decorations,
she said, "Mom, nobody cares about decorations,
they only remember the food they ate."

I said, "I never remember the food,
I just remember when they didn't decorate."

I wanted the party to look festive,
she wanted it to taste festive. 

We had to describe that elephant together.

We immediately nixed the idea of decorating with traditional
mortarboards and school colors.

I didn't want to throw money away,
so we wanted to choose items that could be used
for other special occasions or in Grace's room.

Grace doesn't have any favorite animals, flowers or sports.
I finally begged her,
"Just pick a few colors you like, please!"

Grace and big sister went to Ikea with a budget,

a desire for bright colors, and came home satisfied.

They chose three table runners,

three Chinese lanterns,
paper plates, napkins, and votive candles.

 I added one yard of this fabric from Jo-Ann's to tie all the bright colors together.

I made two smaller tablerunners to layer over the purchased runners,

finishing the edges with a decorative stitch and unraveling.

(I used the same method on a beautiful piece of vintage looking
pine-cone material to decorate for last Thanksgiving.)

 Since I still had material left, I made three smaller squares.
They can be used as basket liners or to add a splash of color on a smaller table.

 With the final piece of material left, I ripped strips and made yo flowers.

They were used to decorate the simple tins I spray-painted black.
One held plastic forks, the other held colorful straws.

To make the yo flowers look more like ribbons,
strips of ripped fabric were attached.
They were simple thumb-tacked to the deck railing.

The fabric was cheaper than the majority of the tissue mortarboard
novelty items we saw in party stores
and everything is reusable.

The best part of the decorating,
Grace was satisfied.

She thought it was beautiful.

At the end of the day,
I was still remembering the bright beauty of the day,

and I wasn't remembering the food.

I had forgotten to eat any of it.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Super Mom Mode

Monday always sneaks up on parents who have relaxed over the weekend.
We've enjoyed our kids.
We might have watched a whole movie, beginning to end.
Maybe we skipped cooking and ate at a restaurant.
Maybe we even got to sleep in....
past 7am.

That's the wonderful thing about weekends,
wonderful things happen in them.
The horrible thing about weekends
is that they are always followed by a

Monday is always a reflection of
how much relaxing I did over the weekend
how many things I didn't finish on last week's To Do List.

It weekly shows up with
another To Do List,
another calendar full of activities,
and another set of problems that need to be solved.

This Monday was especially hard for me.

For the entire month of May I operated on
Super Mom Mode,
ya' know,
those times when ya' get so much done you amaze yourself?

As June began, I was on
Super Tired Mom Mode,
with too much to do and not knowing where to begin.

Summer is a different kind of busy for our family.

A "we-can't-keep-track-of-it-all"
kinda' busy.

So, hubby and I began with this.

On our bedroom wall.

We tracked all summer travels, company and events.

7 States
6 Family Members
5 Carry-on Suitcases
4 Kids Who Need Summer Clothes
3 Grandkids to Visit
2 Bible Camps Ministering at
1 Fun Summer

The calendar ain't pretty, but it got the job done.

Then, I added this in the living room.

L to R
*tote to bring to grandkids
(cheaper to check-on as luggage than to mail stuff)
*brown bag of items buying for son going to Bible camp for 3 weeks
*tote for daughter going to two different Bible camps for 7 weeks
*messenger bag of activities for car for drive home from Bible camp
*laundry basket of items that need to go to Bible Camp with Mom and Dad
*luggage for Beka to go to California with Mom to attend birth of grandchild #3

It ain't pretty, but it got the job done.

After almost a week of not blogging,
it took me all Monday
to complete this blog post.

With one hour and one minute left of Monday,
it ain't pretty, but I got the job done.

Yea, so that
Super Mom Mode
needs to make a superhero return,

'cuz this Momma's got a lot to organize
to get the summer fun underway.

Making your home sing Mondays

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

How Amazing IS Grace?

It's easy to lose yourself in the moment...

...and not in a good way.

Women can get SO consumed with the necessary details of
we forget to enjoy the moment of

The impact of the occasion can be swept away in a flurry of

I had been spray-painting frames and easels black,
trying to find clear punch ladles,
packing up punch bowls and serving dishes,
and taking care of a bajillion other details.

After months of committee meetings,
mountains of lists,
streams  of deadlines,
and flurries of planning,
the Big Day finally arrived.

I was getting so consumed with the ecessary details of
I was forgetting to enjoy the moment of

All the preparations were to celebrate
our fourth daughter's homeschool graduation.

When I paused to celebrate,
I also paused to cry, remembering my Graduation,
the classmates I've lost since then and
the years that passed too quickly with my own children.

The years seem like a blur,
I hardly remember Grace's first grade year.

But, she reads well, can count money, and color in the lines,
so I must have done something right in the past twelve years.

In our homeschool ceremony,
the parents cross the stage to give their children their diploma.

When Beth and Dan graduated in 2007,
I didn't think about going onstage in front of hundreds of people,
until I was trying to find something to wear Graduation morning.
I didn't find anything nice.  I felt frumpy.

This Graduation, dresses were the first thing Grace and I bought
while planning for the special day.

Mommy likes having someone around who also loves history,
is a neat-freak, and loves cooking.

Why cook when your daughter's food is better?

 Daddy likes having someone around to nag him about diet and exercise,
and take his blood pressure on a regular basis.

Grace has already finished one year of college,
so will graduate again next year with an AA as a Medical Assistant.

Little sister reacts with obvious excitement.

After sitting through the long ceremony,

she knew she'd be rewarded with a nice, sugary piece of cake.
Beka's not too happy with the thought of another sibling
moving out someday, so we're thankful Grace will be around
for at least another year.

The most amazing thing about Grace?

She was named after the grace of God and this is
the life verse we chose for her at birth.

Titus 2:11
"For the grace of God
 that brings salvation
has appeared
to all men"

We have prayed that our Amazing Grace,
would desire to bring this amazing grace of God,
to all men.

With a desire to become a medical missionary,
I would say the turning of the tassel,
is just another step in the right direction
of fulfilling her namesake.

"Cuz that's
Amazing Grace!