Monday, June 28, 2010

Far and away

I will be away from the computer for awhile as we spend time with family around the Midwest, though I hope to check in periodically. Hope you're enjoying the summer!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Swap show and tell

Monica and I gave a new challenge to this round of swappers: to pick their own theme. I can't wait to see what some of you came up with!

This is what my swap partner, Heather, sent me: herbal tea, two loofahs, a bright pink bin, pure maple syrup and honey from Maine (these were my favorite items!), a cool notebook she decorated, a neat book about making natural homemade cleaners (can't wait to check this out), some cute tissues, and a pedicure set just in time for "summer feet." After reading Heather's questionnaire, I knew I had to do a Summer Brights theme. I wanted it to sound more creative or catchy, but this is all I could come up with. =)

Here is what I sent in my shoebox: photo album, candle, mints, plaid basket, fun notecards from my friend's Etsy shop, other paper goodies (Heather said she loves office supplies), cute tissues (we both had that idea!), bath and body stuff, and one of these. When Heather mentioned wanting to learn more about homemaking, I thought it would be neat to pass on this helpful book I'd received from April in the Harvest Swap a couple years ago. Then Heather can in turn pass it on to someone else if she wants!Now it's your turn to show and tell. Please share a direct link to your post so we can stop by and see your goodies! Thanks for joining us for another swap.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Little things

As the theme of my blog suggests, I am constantly striving to be a better steward of all my resources. I have a long way to go in the area of being more environmentally conscious, but I find that regularly taking small steps in the right direction is more motivating and effective than setting my sights unrealistically high.

Here are some of the little things I've done just this week in this area:

*Opted out of receiving a local phone book (Thanks to this site for the inspiration!)

*Used this quick and easy "salad spinning" method instead of buying or even desiring a gadget that would do the same job. (hat tip to Small Notebook)

*Took advantage of this discount offer to order some essential oils for making my own cleaners, which I've been experimenting with (my swap partner included a book in my shoebox that has been very inspirational--look for the link on Friday!)

*Picked up litter (Nathan loves helping by pointing out every scrap he sees!)

*Walked across town to deliver a bill, instead of driving the car. (This was a sacrifice as it was 86 degrees outside!)

It seems most appropriate to end this post with one of my favorite quotes, a gem from Mother Teresa: "Be faithful in the little things, for in them your strength lies."

What are some of the *little things* you've been doing lately?
And now for a little, but very off-topic question: a friend recently gave us bags of green beans that were frozen from last year's garden. I've tried both steaming and baking them, and they've turned out quite mushy. Any suggestions? I don't want to waste them, but we don't want to eat soggy beans, either! Thanks for your help.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Accident prone

Over the course of the weekend, each member of our family suffered a variety of (thankfully minor) injuries:

*Natalie fell on concrete and got her first skinned knee. =(

*I had a nosebleed and later that day fell down a couple stairs, scraping my arm and hurting my foot.

*Nathan fell off his bike, and he must have ridden over something sharp because there was a hole in his tire that required a trip to the repair shop.

*Eric walked into the edge of a door in a dark room, acquiring a forehead gash in the process; The next day while trying to slice apart two frozen hamburgers, the knife sliced his finger instead and bled profusely. Fortunately, he did not need stitches, but it was still painful!

*Even our poor dog, Reggie, hurt his foot on Saturday and limped around the rest of the day! Speaking of Reg, yesterday while setting the table for our Father's Day dinner, I ran out of the room for a minute, and he jumped up and ate the entire plate of (homemade!) bread I'd set out. Boo! (Incidentally, on Eric's first Father's Day 3 years ago, Reggie caught and devoured a baby rabbit in our yard right before we were supposed to sit down to eat. Eric was so frustrated by the situation that he could hardly eat the dinner I'd lovingly prepared. It was not a very happy first Father's Day meal!)

I'm grateful these instances don't usually happen all at the same time. I have to admit I thought of this blogger's family, as they always seem to be getting into scrapes!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Opening our home

I've enjoyed and been challenged by Offering Hospitality, and it's brought this subject more to the forefront of my mind. I realized that last week, without much fuss and fanfare, we hosted others four days in a row! I wanted to share about each of these occasions, with the hope that maybe it will inspire you to open your home.

Last Friday, our former pastor called to say he was in town for a few days. I invited him to join us that day for lunch even though I was going to be gone all morning with the kids. Our spread of sandwich fixings was nothing fancy; in fact, I was a little embarassed to be so casual. I did make a quick run to the store for grapes and chips to round out the meal, alongside carrot sticks and homemade cookies. Simple food, rich fellowship.

Saturday night, we hosted a couple families from church. This was actually a challenge our pastor gave in a sermon this spring, and something I want to be intentional about. This meal definitely took more preparation than Friday's lunch, although I chose an easy-peasy crockpot main dish to free up more time for the other dishes.

On Sunday, we invited a close friend over for dinner. It was a last minute invite, so I didn't alter our original menu, but he didn't seem to mind. =)

Finally, Monday evening, we hosted our third annual ice cream social for the neighbors on our block (11 of 14 households were represented). We always provide the tableware and location, a designated neighbor brings the ice cream, and everyone else brings a topping to share. We had a wonderful time visiting, and many people said how much fun they had. It's been a fun tradition--we actually hosted the first one a few weeks after we moved into this house!

So there you have it: four occasions in four days. I didn't do anything fancy for any of them, but people still appreciate the invitation. I hope you will consider opening your home sometime soon. And if you'd like to read more on this subject, I encourage you to visit Offering Hospitality!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Blogging blessings

Recently, I've been blessed in real life by two women I met through blogging.

I remember my surprise and excitement when I first came across Leah's blog, because we quickly discovered that we live about an hour away from each other. We've been able to get together on several occasions, but last month she did a gracious favor for me. I have a great-aunt who lives in the same town as Leah, and this relative was undergoing rehabilitation following an injury. I knew taking Nathan with me to the care facility would not allow for much visiting, and I decided to e-mail Leah to see if she and her daughters would be open to hosting Nathan at their farm for a couple hours. The girls willingly agreed, and Nathan had a blast. Thank you, Leah, Brittany and Suzanne for your hospitality!
I mentioned to you that we recently met up with my parents for my dad's marathon. We started making plans months ago, and my mom was struggling to find affordable lodging that fit our needs. One night when I couldn't sleep, I suddenly remembered that a couple years ago, I'd learned of a blogger named Kathleen whose family directs a Christian camp in the Black Hills. I looked up the site the next morning and sent my mom the link. She called immediately, and Kathleen set us up in this fabulous cabin:
I'm often grateful for the many wonderful people I've met and "met" through blogging, but wanted to specifically highlight these two ladies and the ways they recently blessed my family. How have you been blessed by the blogging community?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Marathon Man

Last weekend, my family had the honor of watching my dad run a marathon (his 12th or 13th--he wasn't sure!) in the gorgeous Black Hills of South Dakota.

I am very proud of my dad for being so strong of body, mind and spirit. Despite having stage 4 cancer, he not only ran this race and finished, but he even had his best personal time in 5 years! Look at this exhilaration:
I wanted to share this limerick my dad wrote a year ago, because this embodies his philosophy.

Out there is a fellow named Dan
Who runs just as far as he can;
"There are cancer survivors
And then there are thrivers"
He said as he went out and ran.

Is that not an amazing attitude?! We love you, Dad!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Seeking your recipe and book ideas!

Inspired by this post, I recently did a food inventory of our kitchen and pantry. I did not write everything down, just the more random things we have accumulated. I'd love to have your help in using up these items, as I'm not sure of what to do with the ones I've listed below.

If you have a winning recipe containing one or more of these ingredients, would you be so kind as to send me a link or e-mail me a copy of the recipe? Thank you very much!

*pine nuts
*lemon curd
*oat flour
*soy flour
*corn meal (seeking recipes other than regular corn bread)
*rice vinegar
*sesame oil
*cider vinegar
*sesame tahini

I can't wait to read your suggestions! Also, while I'm requesting your input, Eric mentioned that he would like to read a parenting book geared to dads. With Father's Day soon approaching, I thought this would be a great time to solicit your recommendations. Thanks for your help!

photo credit: Flickr