Friday, March 5, 2010

For My Readers

As many of you know, I shut down this blog, as it was no longer fun for me.

Upon request, I am putting it back up as an archive so that people can find recipes and whatever other information they were looking to implement.

I will no longer be posting here.

I will be writing at my old blog, A Fine Collection of Lint and Fuzz, about once per week and am the Wednesday contributor to Frugal Hacks. You are all welcome to continue to follow me at both of those blogs.

I enjoyed this blog for a long time, and I thank you all for that.

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Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Contest - Results

The poll for the contest closed on Friday, with entry #1 way in the lead. Entry #1 was amazing, really, and Nicole H., who submitted it, clearly put a lot of work into it and deserves the $25 Amazon giftcard I sent her yesterday.

However, I wrote in the post, that I didn't want this to be a popularity contest, but that is quickly what it became when an anti-me site encouraged everyone to come vote for #1. Oddly enough, my readers really liked entry #3. Why is it fair for people who don't like me to got to decide the fate of my children's room when I was giving the choice over to my readers, who went for entry #3?

Here's a breakdown of what went on the comments.

There were 63 comments.

There were 19 comments for entry #3.

There were 13 comments for entry #1.

The other comments were a mix of support for other entries and various general suggestions.

There was a recurring suggestion of combining #1 and #3, so that is what I am going to do.

I am still trying to work out the exact spacing of the four-tier bunk and I'm thinking of making it three-tiered with a trundle and am considering how to fit a small platform below the bottom bunk if it stays four-tiered.

Since it is unclear who would have won had there not been interference, I sent out a bonus $5 gift card to the runner up, Entry #3.

Mattresses, Mattresses, Mattresses

As some of you who keep up on the gossip forums know, I recieved the mattress from a reader. Sending something for my boys was a kind gesture. It was a crib mattress, though, and I am building the bunk beds to different dimensions. We are planning on keeping Thomas in our bed until he is ready to join the boys in the big-boy-bed. Thus, I am selling the mattress and any money we get will be put toward the boys' room.

Credit for the Entries:

Entry #1 - Nicole H

Entry #2 - Christena

Entry #3 - Andrea M

Entry #4 - Emily (me)

Entry #5 - Patty's husband

More credit for more entries:

I'm going to do an idea round-up including the neat ideas I got in the form of submissions. It may even turn into a short series because there were so many good ideas. If those who submitted an entry have a blog and would like some linky-love, please send me the address to your blog from the same email address you sent the submission. Then, when I showcase your neato idea, I'll include a link to your blog so people can see some of your other neato thoughts and ideas.

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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Toy and Clothes Hammocks

We used to own one of these. We got it at Walmart and put stuffed animals in it. When we moved, we didn't take it with is, but we've recreated the effect in a few places.

You can do a hammock type shelf on a flat wall, like I do in my bedroom to hold my skirts. (First picture on the closet door.)

Or, you can do a corner pocket, like I do in the bathroom to hold bath toys. (First picture, blue cloth between toilet and cabinet.)

Here is how I do it. First, you need a square piece of fabric. I use uncut square pieces for both types so that I can reuse it for something else if I want to.

On a flat walls:

Simply fold cloth in half so that it creates a rectangle and staple the corners to the wall, creating a pocket.

You want to let it droop a bit. The more it droops, the more you can put in it.

On corner walls:

Staple two corners of the fabric onto the two walls. The fabric can droop, but it doesn't have to.

Staple the other two corners as close to the corner of the wall as you can, but up higher to create a shelf.

Cost: piece of fabric and 2-4 staples (or nails), or purchase from Amazon for $12.79 (+$5.95 Shipping).

This is good for lightweight items, like stuffed animals and clothing, but I wouldn't use it for books.

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Friday, February 26, 2010

How did you meet your husband?

This is part of FAQ Friday. If you have a question you would like for me to answer, please submit them on the FAQ page.


How did you meet your husband?


First, I'd like to say, I love FAQ Friday. A lot of times, it is a fun excuse for me to spout my religious views in a blog where they otherwise do not fit. Other times, it allows me to touch upon something truly personal and fun, like how I met my husband.

After high school, Dan went to state college for a few classes each semester. He wasn't sure what he wanted to do with his life. After one year of that, his mother got very sick, planning-the-funeral kind of sick. Praise god, she's still with us now, but has never fully recovered. Dan put his life on hold for a few years to help take care of her, but finally went to Bible college.

I took a year off school after high school, then found the Bible college where I felt God wanted me.

I was a freshman and he was senior.

We went to a college where everything was structured. There was a strict dress code and rules about when you could hang out with people of the opposite gender. There was also a "No PC" rule. That is, "No Physical Contact" with people of the opposite gender. No hugs, hand-holding or even pokes were allowed.

Dan remembers first seeing me during freshman orientation, called the "Get to Know You Session."

I first remember seeing him at the supper table. Supper was the only meal where we had free seating, as opposed to assigned seating. Dan and I struck up a conversation about what brought us to the college and what the will of god was for our lives. He clearly remembers that conversation ended with me asserting, "Well, I know that the will of God for me right now is to clean dishes."

We ran into each other quite a bit around the campus. Sometimes we sat together during chapel, or at supper or at softball games. (We both played.) We both vividly remember on a Saturday night there was a bonfire at the home of one of the married students. He sat with me and we talked for hours- until curfew- about family, theology, and dreams.

He impressed me, but I wasn't looking for a relationship. I went to Bible college to grow closer to god, not to find a husband. I was thinking I needed to somehow distance myself from him, and even hid from him in a coat closet once. Finally I had a long reflection period with God while I was avoiding him. I saw that I was closer to god when I was around Dan and that god was blessing our budding friendship.

Dan's best friend's fiance was in charge of the seating chart. She was also my Resident Assistant in the dorm. She arranged for Dan and I to have assigned seating next to each other at meals. At our college there was a bit of a divide between couples and singles. No body liked it that way, but it was how it was. Some of the other students at our table griped about a couple getting to sit together.

He asked me what I thought of others referring to us as a couple, knowing that I wasn't quite ready. I answered honestly that I liked it. It wasn't long after that that we became an official couple, meaning he called my mom and asked for permission. (My Dad didn't want to be called; he's a bit of a feminist.)

So, that is how we met and fell in love. I am lucky to have him, and am thankful that he feels the same way about me.

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

TV Time

TV time or the lack thereof is something all parents have to consider. I'm going to share what works for our family and how we decided to do it this way.

Before we got married, Dan watched several hours of TV per day. I had the potential to do the same, but neither of us wanted that to be our life. We decided on watching one hour of TV per week and one movie per month. That quickly morphed into one hour of TV per night and one movie per week.

We each get one movie pick per month and one TV pick per week. We use our picks to watch something the other person may not be so interested in. The rest of the time Dan picks something he thinks we'll both enjoy simply because TV is more of Dan's thing than my thing. If there is something I really want to watch, I'll suggest it and he'll usually go for it.

The two nights that Dan works second shift, I could watch an hour of TV by myself, but often forget. I like The Office (or as Daniel calls it, "Michael") and Project Runway when I'm in the mood to watch by myself.

When Daniel was around one years old, we started to think there should be a policy for kid TV time as well. We had a Baby Einstein movie that we liked to put on for him, but he was not as interested. He would watch for a minute or two, then move onto playing. We decided that if he wanted to watch kid TV, we'd limit it to two hours a week, or roughly a half hour show each day Dan was at work.

Daniel doesn't want to watch TV, so I never push it. Sometimes he'll suggest that we watch a Thomas movie tomorrow, but when tomorrow comes around, he doesn't ask again. Every few weeks when he says he wants to watch something today and I put it on, he gets tired of watching and goes and plays. I am perfectly okay with that, except for the fact that he doesn't like me turning it off until it has played the whole way through.

The kids are usually awake when we start watching TV at night, but quickly fall asleep. They then wake up for a before bed routine when the show is over and go to bed for the night. I know that is an odd way to do things, but it works for us.

Oh yeah, and this is all done without a TV. In the fall of 2008, my physics teacher from high school, Bob Crawley, was on Survivor (and won!) and I wanted to watch it on the TV while Dan was at work. The rabbit ears weren't cutting it so I searched for TV alternatives online. We had Netflix for a while, but found that we didn't need it with all the other options available. Between hulu, YouTube, and our DVD collection, we have plenty to watch.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Why I Do What I Do

Who is one dimensional?

Frugal people are not.

Frugal people are stereotyped as going way out of there way to save a nickel. Although this is sometimes the case, this is rarely the only cause for going out of ones way.

Sometimes, going out of one's way is the scenic route.

Here is why I do things that are frugal:

-Over consumption of resources means other people around the world are left with less. I see this as a form of stealing.

-My husband and I believe in a strong work ethic and we want to demonstrate that to our kids. Just because I don't get paid for work I do around the house doesn't mean it has no value.

-This one is huge with me. Knowledge is power. The more I know how to do myself, the less I have to rely on others to do things for me. There are things I do where I am unsure if I will save money at all, in fact the goal sometimes is to break even, but I am becoming a more capable and well-rounded person by doing them myself.

-There is so much I do just for fun. Sure, the activities may overlap in other areas, but fun is my primary motivation in soap making and sewing.

-Many things I do that skim a few pennies off a meal add massive amounts of nutritional value. I may or may not have done them just for those pennies, but no matter what our income is in the future, I will continue to make food from scratch for our health.

-I am God's steward of every penny he lays before me. I feel it is my obligation to think through my decisions and use his resources to the best of my ability. Yes, the pennies do come into consideration, but they are not the only thing.

-It takes less time to tumble my Wonderwash than it does to go to the laundromat. It takes less time to brew a cup of coffee than wait in line at Starbucks. And the more I do at home, the less obligated my husband and I are to have to earn money outside of the home.

As I think through many of the things I do, making pasta, line-drying clothes, sprouting foods, the reasons for doing these things are dynamic. For each of those, at least five of the seven reasons factor in.

What other reasons do you have for doing the frugal things you do?

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Contest

I was completely overwhelmed with the response I got when I asked for submissions to redo my boys' room. I got 41 entries, with the final one rolling in around 4:00 AM this morning. I had a very difficult decision paring it down to just five. Everyone had great ideas and I especially appreciated the effort and creativity that went into so many of the entries.

The criteria I used to choose was based on whether or not it would work for my boys, whether or not I thought it could be done with a reasonable budget, how versatile it was, and how much I thought my boys would like it. I truly hope no one is offended by how I chose, or for not choosing their submission.

So, here are the five. I am going to post them anonymously, as this is not a popularity contest, it is my kids' bedroom. It is also not an art contest. Many submissions came without artwork so some of these pictures are mine.

Entry #1

It has a bunk bed with clothing storage on the top bunk as well as some under bed storage. This person found a shelving unit on craisglist and a cabinet with chalkboard paint on the outside.

For decor, there are framed transportation themed artwork around the room. There is a new(ish) curtain made from washable materials. And the dog Brad came in from the bathroom.

Entry #2

This one has a custom bed in the corner that is 4'x4' with one corner cut off. It is enclosed in that there is a curtain entrance and walls on all sides, negating the need for the curtain on the door, and it has a top. The top doubles as storage space above.

It incorporated a clothes rod above the bed and a cubby-style shelving unit. The window has a road themed bench in front of it with storage underneath for larger toys. The curtains are then turned into a sky theme with a hot air balloon.

Entry #3

This was a fairly simple suggestion that centered around the four-high bunk beds like the ones over at In A Shoe. I thought it might be nice to have it a little differently than them by having the bottom bunk on the floor and have 30" of space between each bunk and having each bunk 30" wide.

Dan and I were planning on utilizing this idea when we had more kids, so this would really be the only bed solution that would not be somewhat temporary, and thus could go over budget. The bottom bunk would be for sleeping in the boys' room now, and could be curtained off to make a private little space. The higher bunks would be used as deep shelves and for storage.

Other suggestions in this entry included a new curtain to protect from the cold, one of those rugs with roads, and some fun wall art.

Entry #4

This entry said that the futon was just a suggestion. It really depends on what's available on craigslist when I'm ready to buy.

On the bottom shelf is the kids' clothes, separated by books. In the shelf above are some of the toy cars. There is also under bed storage.

The checked fabric on the wall holds favorite books, like here. The Thomas picture on the wall doubles as tent storage. This one left up the rugs on the wall, but had a plane hanging in front of it. Instead of the tree, this one turned the old chimney thing into a race's finish line.

Entry #5

This entry took a unique twist on the transportation theme. The whole bedroom is the inside of a bus!

The seating pads go on the floor to make a mattress. All storage is under the seats and could be curtained off. The seats themselves come out 18".

The "windows" show different scenes that the bus might drive by. The front window, by the steering wheel, shows the road.

On the sidebar there is a poll where you can vote. The poll will be closed on Friday afternoon.

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Sprouted Rice "Oatmeal"

After I wrote about oatmeal a while back, I did a little bit more research on the topic. Oatmeal is one of the grains with the highest level of phytic acid content. Phytic acid blocks the absorption of nutrients. I couldn't find a definitive answer to whether or not soaking oatmeal broke down the phytic acid in rolled oats, so I started looking for alternatives.

I thought rice might be a good place to start, especially since it can be sprouted. After sprouting, I cook up a big batch of rice to put in the fridge. When the boys want oatmeal, I put a bowlful in the microwave with a splash of milk. At first, we added cinnamon and stevia so that Daniel would try it, but I slowly cut back on the stevia to the point that cinnamon alone is fine, just like with real oatmeal.

The boys eat "oatmeal" the same way that they eat everything, in phases. Some days, all they will eat is "oatmeal". Other days, they will eat everything but "oatmeal". Thus, some batches last a day and others last almost a week.

This has been tricky with providing a fresh supply of sprouted rice. If they finish a batch too soon, I have to do an overnight soak with a few tablespoons of whey, instead of waiting for the next batch to finish sprouting. When they start one batch, I start sprouting the next, which generally works out fine. This is how I sprout rice:

Day 1-
At night:
Put one pound of rice in jar (I divide it into two jars), cover with water and let sit overnight, about 14 hours.

Day 2-
In the morning:
Cover with mesh cloth. Pour out water.
Refill jar immediately with water, and pour out the water.

At lunch
Refill jar with water, then pour out the water.

Before bed:
Refill jar with water, then pour out the water.

Day 3
In the morning
Refill jar with water, then pour out the water.

At Lunch
Refill jar with water, then pour out the water.
Check for a "tail" on the rice. It should be done soon. You can continue to let the tail grow up to 1/8". After that it will start to change the flavor of the rice.

Only brown rice will sprout. I get cheapo Walmart brand brown rice for $0.72 per pound and have gotten decent tails from it. (It's cheaper than the oatmeal I was getting, too!) Any brown rice will do, but white rice and wild rice will not sprout since they are already dead.

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Review: Fresh Food From Small Spaces by R. J. Ruppenthal

I know that many of you, like Dan and I, have the dream of owning your own land and growing much of your own food. Like me, you just aren't there yet and you want to take steps to get closer. This book was a huge jump for me.

When I saw the subtitle, "The Square-Inch Gardener's Guide to Year-Round Growing, Fermenting, and Sprouting" I got a little nervous. I've got a good handle on fermenting and sprouting. I wanted growing info. I was happy to see one chapter devoted to each sprouting and fermenting, the rest of the book was about urban gardening. The sprouting and fermenting chapters were packed with useful info as well, but I was most excited about all the gardening info.

The eleven chapters dealing mostly with urban and indoor gardening covered everything from beekeeping, to potatoes, from mushrooms to apple trees. This book outlines how to get started growing so many foods, many indoors and year-round. At the outset of the book, the author says you can be growing 10-20% of your food by implementing a few of his strategies. He then clarifies you can be growing much more if you include sprouting.

This book is revolutionizing my indoor garden, which is currently taking up only a few feet of window space. I am in the process of a major overhaul. Here is my strategy:

1) Reread the book and write down each idea I want to implement, writing down the page numbers with the most pertinent info. (I'm about halfway through with this.)

2) Categorize the ideas into those I want to start within the next month, those I want to start within the next six months, and those I want to start within the next year. (Hint: we won't be bee-keeping in the apartment.)

3) Reread each section as I implement various parts. I have an idea for a lettuce stairwell, sort of. Anyway, I'll be blogging about it all as I go!

Who is this book good for?

Everyone who wants to extent the gardening season, everyone who wants to get a jump start on homesteading, and everyone who wants fresh food and the satisfaction of growing it themselves.

My library didn't have Fresh Food from Small Spaces but I could have gotten it through the inter library loan system, so it is not totally uncommon. If you're interested in this kind of gardening, though, this is a resource you will want on your bookshelf. It is on the Amy Dacyczyn level of usefulness.

Here is an exceprt from the introduction:

"I know firsthand of the need for this book, because I had been searching for it for many years. Having lived in small urban apartments and condos, I did not have the luxury of space that most gardening books describe... By trying, failing, and sometimes succeeding, I have learned how to grow a sizable percentage of my family's own fresh food from a small urban living space. And I decided that others could use this information too, so I wrote the book I had been trying to find."
FULL DISCLOSURE: I was not paid to review this book, but I did recieve a free copy to review. All Amazon links are affiliate links, but if you want to check out this book without me getting credit, click here.

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Loose Ends

Spiritual Life Retreat

To those who have asked, we had a great time at the spiritual life retreat. As someone who cooks a lot, I was looking forward to a few days without cooking. Still I found myself in the kitchen helping out the students as a way to get to know them a little better. Many of these students I was meeting for the first time, so I really enjoyed my time with them.

The teaching sessions were awesome, but we were only there for the tail end of the retreat, so we didn't get the full message. Still, we came away invigorated and thankful.

The kids were a big hit. Everyone wanted to hold Bobby, but he wouldn't let them. Thomas, though, was passed around to everyone. It reminded Dan and I of our pre-kid life when holding a baby would be the highlight of our day. Now, it is our whole day, but still a great joy.

Most of all, this was a retreat for us. We were able to put away the stresses of our daily lives for a few days. We didn't think or talk about the blog, work, or even classes. That was refreshing.

Mattresses, Mattresses, Mattresses

I think there has been some misunderstanding about the no-mattress idea.

First, the links I posted of alternatives were not of alternatives I was thinking of getting, but ideas of bedding types I was inspired by. Beds that fold up or roll out are neat and worth considering, which is why I used the word "like" when mentioning them.

Second I don't want a conventional mattress for reasons that have been discussed. I think the best alternative I am looking at is a nice blanket mattress. This would not be a blanket thrown on the floor, or even folded once or plopped on the floor. This would be three or four blankets folded three or four times, depending on the size and type of bed we end up with. It would also depend on what my kids want for firmness and it may talk a few nights to figure out exactly how that will go. Then, when we've got them the way we like them, I would sew them together in a way similar to how you would sew a quilt to keep the batting in place. They would then be covered and put into place. If people genuinely think this would be uncomfortable, go get a stack of blankets, fold them up and see if it is cozy.

It will take longer for my husband and I to convert our own bed to this, since we simply don't have that many blankets. I imagine we will achieve this by the end of the yard sale season for our bed.

One More For Haiti

After I wrote the post about helping Haiti without money, I received an email about one more way to help. It took me six minutes to donate $1 through Brickfish. All you have to do is go here, make an account and submit a photo. For each photo, they will donate $1. You can then tell others about it so that more money can be donated. Here is the photo I submitted:

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Rapid Fire Round

I get some questions that don't warrant a whole post, so I'm taking a handful of these and answering them all at once. If you have questions you'd like me to answer, ask them on the FAQ page.

Do you follow Bill Gothard's movement? Are you part of ATI or do you strive to be? Will you use their homeschooling program? Do you associate with the quiverfull movement? Have you read the No Longer Quivering blog?

I had to ask Dan who Bill Gothard was. He described Bill Gothard as "the guy who believes that single women in their sixties should still live at home and be under the authority of their father, who is in his nineties." The fact that I had never heard of him means we don't follow his movement.

Dan didn't know what "ATI" was and neither did I, so I did a swagsearch and came up with a bunch of odd technical things until I came across Bill Gothard's homeschooling curriculum site. Although I'm sure it is a fine curriculum, we are not planning on using it. I will be writing a separate post about what we will be using for curriculum in the future.

I wrote here about our lack of association with the quiverfull movement.

I have come across the No Longer Quivering blog, but I don't keep up on it. If I remember correctly, the administrator believes that the Bible does teach families to desire a "full quiver", but that that part of the Bible is out-dated.

What do you wear when you swim?

I wear shorts and a t-shirt. I don't wear shorts any other time, since I find them not-so-cute, and I have a t-shirt designated for swimming.

On some of the forums that talk about you, people are talking about sending you gifts and things they think you need. What will you do with these things if you receive them?

It will depend on what it is. If it is something that we could use that would add value to our quality of life, we will keep it and use it. If someone sends us something we don't need or can't use, it will go to charity. To those who are seriously thinking of boxing things up and sending them through the mail, feel free to email me first just to see if it is something we want.

How do you know that your children don't need glasses like you if you aren't taking them for regular check-ups?

First, a child's first eye routine exam is at six months. Both Bobby and Daniel went to their six month check-up and Thomas isn't old enough. The second is at the age of three. Daniel is going for regular check-ups and the other two boys are not old enough for this eye exam.

Second, considering the real possibility that what Daniel had was genetic, all the boys are going to doctor's appointments. I don't think routine visits before would have prevented a genetic disorder in Daniel, but I think that if either of the other boys has it, it will be helpful for them to have a solid medical history for doctors to work with.

Third, my need for glasses is not genetic. Out of five biological siblings, I am the only one with glasses, but I will be writing about that topic in a separate post.

What kind of soap do you use to wash dishes?

I use Dawn foam in a pump. I've tried natural dish washing cleaners, but nothing works like Dawn. We have a lot of fat in our diet and thus have some greasy dishes. Dawn cuts grease. Nothing else comes close. I also use it as a laundry pretreater for grease stains I get from cooking and Dan gets from work.
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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

On "Vacation"

My family is going to a spiritual life retreat put on by Dan's school. I'm pretty psyched, as I haven't been to any retreats, seminars or conferences since Daniel was an only child.

I didn't want to post anything if I wouldn't be around to moderate comments, so I scheduled a post over at Frugal Hacks for today, "SAHM Jobs".

I'll be back on Friday for FAQ Friday.

Please pray for us, that this may be a time of spiritual growth for both Dan and I.
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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Pause... Redesign

I am halting Touring Tuesdays for two weeks. If you hadn't noticed, my boys' bedroom was not very popular. I like it, my boys like, it, but most of you all don't. I decided it might be fun to have a little contest.

I've been wanting to redecorate the boys room in a transportation theme (cars, trains, planes) for a while now, but the blog has sucked up most of my creativity. I like redecorating and am open to new ideas, so I'm going to let you redesign my boys' room.

I am setting a $50 budget for the redesign. I'm thinking most of what I get will be from Craigslist or homemade, so how you use the budget will mostly be guesswork. You can look at online retailers, though, and see if there is anything there I might be interested in. I am decently handy with a needle, paintbrush, and a hammer, so I if you have some neat furniture or artwork ideas, submit them and I'll see what I can do.

The room is 6'x8'. The crib that is currently in there is 30"x56", but I'm strongly leaning towards scrapping it for an alternative, mattress-free sleeping arrangement, something like this, or this, or this. The window, which is behind the blue wall of rugs, must be able to be opened, so there can't be shelves in front of it, but there could be a futon or something. It has rugs over it because 1) the window is a little drafty and 2) the view is into the hallway.

What needs to be in the room?

  • A place to sleep
  • A place for toys
  • A place for clothes
Things to keep in mind:

  • There are two little boys sleeping in there now. A baby will soon be added, but we have a pac-n-play that we could set up in our bedroom until he is ready to graduate to a big-boy bed.
  • The toy collection expands and contracts. People give us stuff and we give stuff away. Nothing is set in stone, so the arrangement needs to be flexible. Also, I have found a potential spot for the largest toys, currently on the wall, in our bedroom.
Next week, I will pick up to five of my favorite submissions and you all can vote. The winner will recieve a $25 giftcard, puchased with swagbucks. (I may make my own submission and if mine wins, the runner-up will get the prize.) I will then resume Touring Tuesdays. When the tour is over, I will post pics of the new room.

You can either draw out your idea and email it to me me, or you can send me a written description, with product links if you want. Officials entires must be sent via email ( If people have suggestions but not a whole entry, put them in the comments and someone else might win thanks to your great idea. There were also some great suggestions in the comments of the original post of My Boys' Room.

Please, if you have an idea, make a submission. You might be the only one who submits anything and then you'll win!

UPDATED TO ADD: I am not allowed to paint the walls.

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Bunch of Coconuts

And my locavore readers cringe again.

I buy most of my produce at a small market. The prices just can't be beat.

I do most routine grocery shopping at Walmart. We get 10% off of produce as part of the employee discount, but the prices usually aren't good enough for me to take advantage of that.

Walmart had $0.57 coconuts. I bought two. I have no delusions about them being fresh. I researched coconuts and found that they are shelf-stable for roughly six months. I imagine Walmart was pushing the limits so I processed them immediately.

This is a new experience for me, an adventure that I thought I would share with you. I have eaten raw coconut and had coconut milk, but I had never processed a whole coconut.

There are a lot of methods to open them, but the simplest is to hit around the "equator" of the coconut with the blunt end of a heavy knife. It didn't take long for each coconut to start to crack. When the crack was large enough, I plunged the knife in and wedged it open. I did this over a bowl to catch the coconut water.

I came across a method of removing the meat that pops the meat right out of half the coconut all at once. This carried the risks of bending the knife and severely injuring me via stabbing. Although this would have made for a daring blog post, I opted out.

I cut the meat out in wedges. It came out pretty easily. I had read that this could the the hard part, and it was certainly time consuming, but not difficult. I used a peeler to get the shell remnants off of the meat. After munching on a few chunks with the kids, I froze the meat and will grate it as needed, mostly as an additive to breads or muffins.
I got over a pound, but not quite two, so this worked out to be under $1.00 per pound. We don't usually buy bagged coconut unless it is needed for a specific recipe, but even then I don't like it because it is sugar coated.

I only had a cup of coconut water. We were thinking that it would be yummy plain as a drink, but all the hair and fuzz came off the coconuts while I split and hacked them, so it was kind of murky and we skipped it.

Coconut milk is made pretty easily from the coconut meat, but I thought we would have more fun with the meat than the milk, so we didn't go that route.

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Copyright Under $1000 Per Month, 2009-2010

Sunday, February 14, 2010

To Facebook Friends and The Crazy Obsessed

I have removed everyone I don't know in real life from my personal Facebook and set up a blog Facebook page. I wanted to upload personal pictures for family without them being scrutinized and smeared all over the internet.

Facebook Friends, that is people who friended me because they like me, I don't want any of you to be offended, although I'm sure you understand.

The Crazy Obsessed, no worries. You still have all those personal photos of me and mine you saved to your computer, right?

So, anyone can add me and I'll confirm you. I'm listed as Emily Under, since I couldn't put Emily Under1000PerMonth.

And Happy Valentine's Day!

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

To My Valentine

This will be our experimental homemade Valentine's Day. We are going out to eat as well, with the kids, of course. So, this is what we did:

For Dan

I made Dan Star Trek pillows. One had the Borg cube and one had the Enterprise. I'm not too fond of the Borg cube one and am going try again for a bonus birthday present. (He loves them both, as he loves all things Star Trek.) The Enterprise one, though, we both loved.

For Emily

Dan is giving me a certificate of permission to completely consolidate and redesign his DVD and CD collection. Consider this the "before" picture. I have a neat idea of how I want to do it. For someone with little time to devote to homemade gifts, my husband is giving me just what I want!

Question: To those of you going out to eat, will you be going for lunch or dinner? Which would you think would be less crowded? Dan and I are still trying to decide.

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Dan on Frugality

This question is part of FAQ Friday. If you have a question you would like me to address, please add it to the FAQ section.


Does your husband support all of your penny pinching endeavors?


Dan and I have very different takes on frugality, actually. Although they are different, they compliment each other well. His frugality could be summed up in no debt and don't spend money. I like that and add in penny pinching.

Passive Frugality

Passive frugality is stuff we had to do once and are still benefiting from. I shopped around for auto insurance and got the least expensive apartment we could fit into. Those two items save us over $100 per month. We got a nice used car in good shape and haven't needed many repairs on it. Choosing a good car didn't take too long, but we have reaped many rewards from that good choice. Dan has given me the task of researching these and has been pleased by what I can do.

Active Frugality

Active frugality is what we do now, today to pinch our pennies. This is divided into how to spend and how to not spend.

There are some things we must spend on, food, gas, and clothes. Dan loves my cooking. His one complaint is that he wants more snack foods, like cookies, crackers and chips. My take on snack foods is that making them feels like trying to fill a bottomless pit. They cost money, provide little nourishment and are eaten too quickly, so I do it by request. I count on him forgetting to ask for them and he does.

Not spending money on stuff like new shoes or DVDs is pretty easy for both of us. For example, I won a $25 gift card to Marshall's from We Are THAT Family in December and I've only used $7 so far. I'll write about what I get when I use it all. Dan would have spent the whole gift card within a week, but not been tempted once it was gone. So, we have different styles of not spending money, but the same outcome.

Future Frugality

Future frugality is, in many ways, up in the air. We talk of pursuing a pastorate the most, but really we don't know exactly what it is God has for us. We have both at times felt we might be called to the mission field, yet God continues to direct our step toward a pastorate in Maine. Whatever we may do, financial discipline now is great training.

So, future frugality is in many ways hard to pin down, but it is in some ways wrapped up in housing. We've talked about where we might want to live once he graduates and have discussed ad nauseum housing options. He wants something a little more traditional than a yurt or tipi, but is still open-minded. He's all for a small home as long as it doesn't mean we have to get rid of all of his stuff. He's generally okay with me gradually putting more of his stuff into storage.


Finances are something Dan gave me general authority over when we first got married. We run our family kind of like a government, but with less paperwork. He is the President/Prime Minister and Secretary of Defense. I am the Chief of Staff, Minister of Finance, and Secretary of Agriculture. He lets me handle most of the financial decisions, but he holds the red veto pen.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Wondering Where is Winter

I wanted to post about what we do outside during the winter. I was hoping to get some super cute pics of the kids on a sled going down my mom's hill. She has the best hill for sledding. I wanted some shots of the boys digging snow and drawing in it, but I can't do that.
We got some snow in December and it stuck around a bit. But I was selfish and naive. I wanted more snow. Now, here we are in February in Maine and there is no snow.
When the snow is fresh and there is still some covering in the driveway, Daniel likes to draw in it with his feet. He stomps around making patterns. Bobby follows his lead, but I don't think to take pictures because surely it will snow more and I can post some decent pictures of Maine's snow.

Well, here is Maine's snow in February.
We've been going to the park and for walks, just like we do in the summer, minus the beach. The only difference is that we are bundled up. So, here are some cute pictures of my kids at the park, because that is what we are doing for outside winter activity. Sorry I couldn't demonstrate real winter fun. But, here is Bobby and Daniel going to play with the patch of snow.

It is supposed to be snowing right now, but doesn't seem to be. Maybe it will and I'll be able to show off some real Maine winter activity, but it looks like for now, y'all in the South get all the winter fun.

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