A DIY Christmas: Part 1

We had gobs of DIY Christmas presents happening around the farm this year. It started with a special family birthday sign I made last minute for my grandma’s birthday on the 15th and the craziness of trying to finish presents continued through Christmas Eve.

For my fabulous sisters in law and my gorgeous cousin, I made Bath & Body bags. Now I am crunchy so not just any old product will do. Add to it that I wanted to spend minimum…not because of the lovely ladies, but because of my budget. I managed to scrape up some fabulous creations from my kitchen and stores. I made them some fabulous Peppermint Bath Salts, Lavender Oatmeal Soak, and Brownie Sugar Scrub. I swear to God the Brownie scrub smells delicious!

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I found the recipe for Peppermint Bath Salts at Our Best Bites/Fizzy Peppermint Bath Salts

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The Lavender Oatmeal Soak modified from Princess Pinky Girl/Lavender Bath Soak {I tripled this recipe.}

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Finally, the decadent Brownie Sugar Scrub at The Idea Room/Chocolate Sugar Scrub I quadrupled this recipe so I could also give a jar to my grandma…she loves chocolate!

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Check out the tutorial links above each item for detailed directions. They were super easy. Definitely perfect for your significant other to make or them for you. I even managed to have a little left over for myself and am waiting for the perfect opportunity to use them!

 

2016

2015, I would say it was about average. It wasn’t the most exciting, thank God. I turned 34. Not sure if it is because of getting older that I am feeling that I am running out of time. Our house sits not finished but thankfully I didn’t set a goal to finish it last year. Looking back over the last 2 new years posts, I feel like it was an epic fail. This last year we spent way too much time trying to get rid of the new car we bought and at the chiropractor for when I threw my neck out. Always something.

The last year has me realizing a lot of things. I obviously can’t follow thru with a resolution…like millions of others. I am my fathers daughter, which 75% of the time is not a good thing. That money is tight and will be that way unless something changes.

Instead of setting goals or resolutions, this year I am going to try and make changes. Instead of trying to finish rooms, I am going to try and finish projects, yes projects! I am going to try and be more like my mother. I want to end this year in a better financial situation the last couple of years. Pretty Simple, huh?

First, it has become very apparent of my intolerance to voc fumes. Even with ventilation {i.e. open windows} I end up with a migraine. This year I will not be as busy in other areas so I can plan my staining and varnishing projects for outside or in the barn. Usually the periods that are perfect for finishing were also my busiest times. I am also going to explore non-voc stain and varnish options.

Secondly, I know most women would never want to hear they have become there mother but it would help me immensely if I was more like my mother. I am going to try and read one book a month that I know my mother has read and helped her as well as trying to read my Bible more. I know this will require early mornings since it is the quietest part of my day {not a morning person} and earlier bed times. The first book I am reading is The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian.

Third, bring in more money and budget, budget, budget! The hubs already works 3 jobs, yes 3 jobs. He has been known to work 7 days a week. Four of them before sun up and after the sun goes down. The other three days from 3 am until 4pm. Sometimes this has caused a great strain on our relationship, but it helps that 2 of the 3 jobs we can go pester him. I had thought about making and selling furniture. After a certain desk project {blog post soon} I realized that my hubby has the building skills not me. I have the visualizing and finishing skill. We are still considering this, but as a joint effort, not a me effort. This is one the pieces we are working on now, it is a piece I designed from a photo off Pinterest.

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I am also looking into becoming Medical Transcriptionist. It is the sort of thing I would like and can be done from home. There is a course through Career Step promoted by Dave Ramsey. He is very picky about who he supports so I am sure it is nothing scam like. Down side, the $3000 price tag. Which we do not have at this moment or the option to do payment plan. This may be in my future sooner than later, possibly after a bathroom remodel that the hubs will be doing with me assisting.

Any who, here is to the new year. May it bring perseverance, a change of character, and new and perfected skills to a better life.

Next Christmas

Next Christmas I will be doing things differently.
Next year I will, hopefully, have Christmas gifts figured out before Halloween. This year has been exhausting trying to get all these presents finished before Christmas eve eve.
Some pictures of our progress…
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I know between now and next Christmas we will have new tools that will make present building a lot easier…I know I will be looking into a paint sprayer. Maybe for Valentines day…

Sprayer? …or the painter?

Seriously, I am beginning to hate paint.

I always loved painting. Terracotta pots, walls, watercolors…I loved doing it all until last year. The dreaded turquoise. Granted it was a beautiful piece, I loved the finish, but it started out as a nightmare. You can read about it here.

Part of the nightmare was the excitement of using a score questionable purchase. We had gotten a Black & Decker HVLP Smart Select Sprayer on clearance at the local farm & home store. I had picked it up because my hubby is NOT a painter of any sort. I thought it perfect for painting the house. Granted it would take me longer than a “big” sprayer, but it would definitely take less time than 1 woman and a brush. Well I thought it was the perfect time to give that baby a test run. Perfectly sanded and sitting in the garage was that soon to be turquoise beauty. All ready for primer. I checked the viscosity with the little cup and it should have been fine and all I got was glops of paint shooting out. I thinned some more, and still glops everywhere. Now I would like to point out that I can be really good with a can of spray paint and knew to move your whole arm not just your wrist, still glops. After all the frustration of trying to get the other part of the bathroom set done, I wasted little cuss words time on the sprayer. I cleaned that sprayer up and threw  put it back in its storage bag.

Fast forward to today…working on a x-mas present and the primer has to come out.  After getting one side of it painted I start thinking that it would be nice if my paint sprayer was nicer. Halfway thru the primer, I am on my phone looking at Rogue Engineer and Ana White, searching to see what kind of sprayer they use. After an hour and a half getting 90% of it primed and I am ready to go buy a sprayer!

While the primer dried, I started researching sprayers {that don’t need compressors} that I could run out and get on this rainy, Sunday afternoon.

Awesomely Skilled Sexy

I love my hubby. He is awesomely skilled sexy and I am so jealous!

He got off early today and so we took the opportunity to work on one of the 6 Xmas projects. He started on the bigger one, while started a group of smaller ones. People may not think this but I suck at execution. I can dream up some of the coolest ideas or finishes or design pieces of furniture from a inspiration piece. Yet when I tried to actually build it the simplest things will mess me up. Seriously, I have a hard time hanging up towel bars. UGH!

My hubby managed to finish his “present”, me? I managed a migraine, wasted hours, and a smidgen of work done. He tried to cheer me up, which only sort of works when your more frustrated than sad. Shaking the sawdust off I told him I was glad that he was awesomely skilled sexy and I wished I was too…he told me I was awesomely sexy and that he preferred me that way. ♥

Festive DIY

After an interesting week of mostly lows, I finally managed to get Christmas tree decorated and in a festive mood…for the most part. I still feel blah and stressed, but things will hopefully look better next week. Here is a picture of my tree…xmas tree 2105.jpg

I actually like it a lot. I did not use any of my special ornaments; the hallmark ones or the vintage ones from my great grandmother. We will be moving the tree around a lot so I was not going to chance breaking one very special to me.

Any who, I have been working tonight on brain storming inexpensive diy gifts for family. It seems hard to find ideas when the ages range from 1 to 28. Especially on a tight budget. Some gifts I know I will just end up buying. Definitely for my own 2 kids, which is sad since both my hubby and I have some mad diy skills between the both of us. It is just really hard to find the time to do them when the kids are not around.

I have one big project for a niece, something  or things for my in laws, two sewing projects that are started but require clear focus and patience to finish, and lots of small diy projects that my kids will be thrilled to help me with…as long as they get a set too. Thinking about these gifts make me so excited for Christmas!! I know that each handmade present will be cherished because it came from mind, heart, and hands.

Money, Money, Money…

Like the ABBA song…all the things I could do, if I had a little money…money, specifically the lack of, has been on my mind this last week.  Not only because it is Christmas, but because we got another lovely hospital bill. What a way to ruin what little holiday spirit I had this year. Gah, who would think a simple echo would be over $3000! And my insurance thinks this is reasonable.

Well this starts the whole depressive thought process. Does not help that I am tired and worried about how I am going to find time for making x-mas gifts and finding money to buy the rest before I opened the envelope.

I had tried budgeting, cutting back, and doing Dave Ramsey and snowball method, but when you are already not having splurges like cable/satellite, coffee, or day trips to the mall it is awfully hard to find a place to cut back. {Granted I know we have done some improvements to the house that were not necessities, but I am willing to own up on these.} It is also kind of hard to do this when both adults in the house have a different opinion on where you stand financially. Seriously, the funnest thing we have  consistently is Netflix and that is the form of the cheapest DVD plan they have. I started a journal last night, kind of a food journal sort of thing only for money. I am going to track all the outgoing (like I am eating it) cash or debits. I am also adding little plus amounts from cash we get from an elderly family member. Usually that cash does not make it to the checking or savings and is blown on lunch or breakfast out. Granted it is not consistent income, but we are getting it and I want to record it for accuracy.

It is hard to budget, save, and pay down debt when you already are not spending a whole lot on non-necessities. It is harder still when you know there is no way your hubby can take on a 4th job to help pay for your medical bills (which is probably 75% of our debt). Even harder knowing that there is not a job you can do to help your hubby that does not require either degrees & experience or being physically able to do the job. It is so frustrating!!! Then you think you find the one thing that may help your situation…and you can not figure out a way to pay for it. Even with the financing options.

The most hurtful part of it all is the fact knowing that no matter how hard I try to get rid of my medical debt, it is still there. Growing with each phone check, each office visit…and that there seems to be no way of adding positive cash to the negative situation.

 

Chunky Chow Chili

I’ve been busy in the kitchen again.

Don’t you love going on Pinterest looking for one thing and then finding something else. That’s how I stumbled upon this recipe for Sweet Potato, Black Bean, & Lentil Vegetarian Chili . I love how it is meatless. It helps me keep costs down and for the times when I don’t have meat for the dogs. Double Bonus!!

Granted I had to make a few changes, since some of the seasonings are toxic to dogs…but it was super easy to subtract and add seasonings.

The ingredients…

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon curcumin
  • 3 cups vegetable broth (I used Chicken)
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 2 – 15oz cans tomato sauce (I used Hunt’s Organic)
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 2 cups green lentils
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon basil
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 2 –  black beans, drained and rinsed
  1. In a large pot over medium heat, add the coconut oil, the garlic, curcumin, & cumin. Simmer together until coconut oil melts.
  2. Add the vegetable broth, 3 cups water, tomato sauce, and tomato paste. Tomato paste is very thick so make sure you have that mixed in very well. Stir in the lentils and carrots. Turn the heat up to high, bringing the broth to a boil. Once it boils, reduce the heat to medium low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. After 10 minutes, add 1/2 cup water or stock, basil, parsley, cubed sweet potato and black beans and simmer on medium low for 40 minutes or until the lentils are tender.

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Now there were a few ingredients, seasonings, that were left out. These are toxic to dogs. If you would like to make this recipe for both you and your four legged moocher try putting the missing seasonings (see below) into an old seasoning container and shake them together and sprinkle it on your dish. Onions can be added by mixing in some onion powder or sauteing fresh onions, sprinkled with the seasonings below & coconut oil, to serve as a topping on your portion.

  • 2 tablespoons chili powder (start with 1 1/2 tablespoon if you’re sensitive to heat)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Bowl and serve!

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Chicken Puppy Stew

I love making dog food! My pups are truly spoiled with what they get to eat…and I love that they can not comment back if it’s not 100% delicious.
I was feeling a bit creative this afternoon, we have a LOT of butternut squash and cherry tomatoes. A lot. So I started at pinterest looking for some interesting recipes. Now there are a few things dogs can’t eat and some things that are use in moderation that you will find in most recipes. So I usually skip or reduce those ingredients. I found this one neat recipe that inspired this recipe.

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Ingredients:

  • 3 Chicken Breasts, cut into 1 1/2″ long strips
  • 1 clove of Garlic
  • 3 cups Water +1/2 cup {can sub. with Chicken Broth}
  • 1 1/2 tsp Oregano
  • 2 tsp Rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp Sage
  • 4 cups Butternut Squash, 1/2″-1″ cubes
  • 1 medium Carrot, chopped
  • 1 cup Brown Rice, uncooked
  • 1 heaping tbsp Coconut Oil
  • 1 tbsp Butter
  • 1/4 tsp Garlic powder
  • 8 Bell or Cherry Tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup Sweet Peas

I try to make my recipes as simple as possible. I hate making dirty dishes and it’s easier to share if it’s easier to cook!

I started by putting the water, chicken, garlic {clove}, oregano, rosemary, and sage into my dutch oven.
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This is about the size of garlic clove I put in.

imageWhile the chicken was simmering in the dutch oven I steamed my butternut squash. After about 10 minutes I pulled about half of the squash out and put into a bowl. At this point I put the brown rice in with the chicken.

When the rest of the butternut squash was all steamed, I put it into a second bowl {2 bowls of butternut squash}. Then I put the carrots into the steamer.

While the carrots steamed I put the first bowl of squash into my trusty cast iron and roasted it in the coconut oil and butter.

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The second bowl of butternut squash got smashed and thrown into the dutch oven.
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Then I added the diced tomatoes.image

And the frozen peas.

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I let it simmer for about 15 minutes on low and it was done!

It does thicken up quite a bit at the end of cooking so added about 1/2c more water at the end. All the recipes I have here for dog food have been people and puppy approved. My hubbies only complaint was lack of pepper or Montana steak seasoning…which isn’t the greatest for pups but feel free to add to your own plate!

Occupancy

My mom got a camping tent at an garage sale for $5. It’s just a two man tent but the kids are loving it.

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Have you ever noticed how a tent will be labeled as a one-man, two-man, or four-man tent {some can get really big, but you get my drift}.
We always found it hysterical that something would be labeled to fit 2 people and it would only barely fit 1. As I was laying on the massage table at the chiropractor, it dawned on me that cars are that way too! Take the Jeep Patriot, it has a occupancy listed as 5 people. 5 people!! Has anyone sat or even looked in one? Some days it is barely enough room for a family of 4. I think next time I look at {or any of y’all look at} a newer vehicle I will be looking at the max occupancy and dividing it in half. Because my 5 person vehicle comfortably fits 3.