Category Archives: Ms. Giggles

Around the Homestead

I enjoy the chores around our little homestead far too much to label them as “work”!  Feeding and watering the animals, watering and checking on the gardens, and walking our property to make sure that everything is in order is a perfect opportunity to talk with God and soak up His creation.

Some mornings I have a helper or two.

This morning Susannah (6) helped to put fresh hay in the nesting box and check for eggs.

Our chickens free-range during the day and are doing a great job of keeping the bugs down.  They are constantly scratching and pecking throughout the yard and woods.

Our youngest chickens are now beginning to lay eggs.  Can you spot the egg from one of the “new” girls?  *grin*

Unfortunately we had to move the geese up from the pond and into the goat yard.  They kept wandering off of our property and onto our neighbor’s porch where they kept making a mess.  Once we finish the fencing in the final side, they will get to move back to the pond.

All of the gardens are in bloom again.  With fall quickly approaching, everything seems to be trying to send off summer in style!

Just thought I would share my newest garden decorations.  A fantastic buy at Hobby Lobby for 80% off.  I spent only $4.50 for both of them.  Booyah!

While we feed most of the horned tomato worms to the chickens, we do allow the ones covered in wasp eggs to stay on the plants.  They don’t eat the plant and the wasps that hatch out hunt these kinds of pests.

Susannah is a huge help and distracts the goats with a little hay while I get their feed in their dish.  If they are anywhere near their feeding dish while I am trying to fill it, I can’t get to it and end up pouring the feed on their heads.  Silly goats!

Score one for the frugal homesteader in me.  I made this hay rack from left over fencing.   Mark’s Kleins and about fifteen minutes and the girls had a new rack to keep the hay clean and easily accessible for nibbling.

My next homestead projects:  clean out the chicken house and put down a fresh layer of hay,  build a double compost bin with pallets, and move the goose house up from the pond to the goat yard.

What’s happening around your home?  Any new outside projects?

All for God’s glory,

~Rhen

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Middle Girl’s Room Makeover

Decorating a room to incorporate the likes, favorite color, toys, and personalities  of four girls ranging in age from four to ten is no easy feat, but I think I got!

The previous residents attempted a “tuscany” feel to several areas of the downstairs by using the stucco method and somewhat painting it with earthy colors.  The white you see is where there is no paint.  They didn’t quite hit the nail on the head.

I chose to cover up the orange flat paint with a very warm and soothing green eggshell.   Green is a color that is the common thread in each of the girls’ quilts.

It took me an entire afternoon to paint this large room.  What seemed to take up the biggest amount of time was moving all of the furniture and toys out of the way.  *grin*

I am still toying with the idea of building a shelf around the pole seen in the picture.  I found an example on Pinterest I really like.

Now we are ready to purge, build, and decorate!

Mark exceeded my expectations building bases for each of the girls’ bed frames.  After hanging the curtains and putting their beds together, I hung their name signs over each of their beds.  I want to sew a couple of throw pillows for each of the girls in their favorite colors to match their name signs and quilts.  That will happen as I find the material I am looking for on clearance.

Here is a view of the kitchen play area I created, as well as little Layla’s (4) bed.  She is not yet big enough for a twin sized mattress.

I created the “EAT” and “Say Grace” signs out of a couple of scraps of wood and some extra ribbon from my craft tub.  The chalkboard menu lists the specials of the day.  You can also see the footprint butterflies we made with each of the girls.

I gave away most of our plastic toy bins and containers and opted for this shelf and matching baskets.   I put a lot of time into searching and finding the right containers for the girls to organize their toys in.  I could spend a WHOLE LOT of money to buy bins that look good and will stand the test of time or something cute but cheap enough not to get all worked up about if it was torn up.  Considering I don’t have $300.00 to spend on the first option, I chose to go with cute and not heartbreaking if they didn’t last too long.  These baskets were less than $5 each at Old Time Pottery, and after almost three months… not one has been torn up or even nicked!  Booyah!

When Mark finally brought home the pallets I have been whining longing for, I made each of the girls a little place of their own to display their masterpieces.

In the corner opposite of their little cafe spot I created a place for their dollhouses and put some books on the wall.  I am keeping my oh so frugal eyes open for a chair or two to put here so they can snuggle up and read their books.

While I may have the bulk of their makeover completed, I have a few projects left up my sleeve.  I am on the hunt for little bedside tables to set next to each of their beds.

I am also looking for a great rug to put in the middle of the room.  It has to be an incredible price and incorporate the colors of the room:  green, blue, pink, brown, orange, and yellow.  I am sure the perfect rug is out there…somewhere.

Finally, I am going to paint one of their doors with chalkboard paint to give them a spot to let their inner Picasso and Van Gogh out.

Granted, it took me about 4 months to get their room to this state of completion, but I have done it all for less than $100.00.  Thank you Pinterest for so much frugal inspiration!!

All for the glory of God,

~Rhen

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New Life For Old Jeans!

If your kids are anything like mine, then you have more than your share of jeans with holes in the knees.  After a while, patching just doesn’t work any longer.

What next?  Let’s make those old jeans into some cute little shorts!

It is very easy and it only took about 45 min for this sewing machine novice to create 3 pairs of adorable shorts.

I started out by having Susu (6) put her shorts on so that I could carefully cut them at the appropriate height.  I cut them a little long so I would have enough material to hem and still have a pair shorts that are a lady-like length.

I folded the bottom of the new shorts under by 1/4″ and ironed them to keep the fold in place.  I then used my sewing machine to stitch that hem into place.

I folded the hem under by 1/4″ again and repeated the ironing and sewing process that I had just done.

Once the hems were secure I used a fabric glue to attach 1″ wide ribbon around the hem.

Make sure you start and finish the ribbon on the inside of the leg so you don’t see where the line is.  I chose three different ribbons to mix and match with the shirts she already has.

Here is Susu (6) modeling one pair of her new shorts.

I wish I had taken a few shots of the hems while I was working on them, but I was so focused that I didn’t think about it until I was done.

If you have any questions about how I did something, just ask!

All for the glory of God,

~Rhen

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For the Love of Strawberries

We are a family who loves fresh fruits and veggies, so when the opportunity came to pick strawberries, we loaded up the van and headed to the strawberry fields!

I thoroughly enjoyed our little adventure.   It was a great morning that rolled  science lessons, math lessons, a field trip, a buffet, and a fun time all in to one.

We divided the girls into teams of one Big, one Middle, and one Little with a basket and a goal.  The boys grabbed a basket and headed off with manly swagger to fill theirs faster than their sisters.    It is always a race.  Whatever it is, it is always a race!

They worked hard, but enjoyed every moment of it.  My job was to run the filled baskets up to the “office” and grab an empty one for them to fill.

In the picture above, you can see my boys (Israel -2, and Noah -14) roaming the fields eating and picking.   I am not sure if any of the strawberries that made it into Israel’s hands were ever put into the baskets.

The strawberries were so ripe, juicy, and sweet.

At the top of the fields stood an old shack whose front porch served as the “office”.  It fit perfectly with the couple who handed out baskets and took payment.

We took our bounty of eight overly full gallon baskets home to process.  The little trick of using a straw to core each berry worked beautifully.   Simply use a clean straw to poke through the berry from the bottom up towards the stem.  It will core it and pop the top off with ease.

We put all of the tops, cores, and trimmings to the side and fed them to the chickens.  They were delighted with their treat!  Oh, the happy squawking!

I dried 5 trays of strawberries in my dehydrator.  The chips will be used in our homemade energy bars.  They add nice crunch and flavor.

I cut up and froze a large portion of the strawberries to use in cobblers, smoothies, pies, and homemade ice cream this summer.

 I also attempted to oven dry strawberries as seen in this pin on Pinterest (http://pinterest.com/pin/102527328989401617/).   It did not work well at all.  The berries never dried as described and were far too moist to can in jars or bags.  Mold would have spoiled them quickly.  It is too bad it didn’t work.  If you try to oven dry them (not dehydrate them into chips), and it actually works, let me know what you did!    I am still intrigued by the idea.

With our strawberry harvest such a success, I am now looking toward our next fruit-filled adventure at the end of the month when we head out to pick peaches!

Do you enjoy getting out to the farms and being a part of the harvesting?

All for God’s glory,

~Rhen 

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Favorite Thrift Store Finds- January

Yes, shopping thrift stores is a great way to save money and keep your budget under control, but I enjoy the thrill of the hunt!  *wink*  Finding a treasure, a diamond in the rough, amongst a bunch of junk, is more than worth the time.

Here are my favorite finds for January.

I have been on the hunt for an adorable coat for my sweet Susannah.  She has a coat that is just fine for wearing outside to play in but not for going out in public.  I happened upon a gorgeous, chocolatey-brown Rothschild coat for less than $4.00!  Yes! Score for this thrifty momma!   I also found this adorable skirt.  It has a little gold thread running throughout, and it adds a touch of sparkle.

We had two great finds for Renee, both under $6.00 each.  The first is a black wool jacket that is gathered at the waist.  I love it when she wears it with a silky scarf tucked under the collar and flowing down the front.

The second is an absolutely gorgeous blue suede blazer with a lovely detail.  The kicker?  It is a brand new jacket with the original tag still on it.  That tag read $79.99.  Booyah!

Some women love shoes, while others have a thing for jewelry, and still others for purses and different bags, I have a little thing for jackets and blazers.  I am always on the lookout for something that is suede, loaded with personality, or just a little piece of eye candy.  *grin*

The warmth of this burnt orange suede blazer looks fantastic with my cream colored shirt, blue jeans, cowboy boots, and some simple drop earrings.

My “fun find” was this lap harp I discovered buried under a bunch of kitchen odds and ends.  It is missing one string (easily replaceable), and it was handmade in Romania (how cool is that!).  We are a music family who greatly enjoys finding and learning to play new instruments.  After our trip this fall to Fort Toulouse’s Pioneer Days introduced us to a fantastic character who beautifully played a large version of a lap harp, I had to snatch it up ($3.00)!

My January finds also include a few Van Heusen shirts in pristine condition for Noah, a couple of shirts for myself, several pairs of blue jeans for the kids, and a small tablecloth.

I don’t usually shop for myself, but I recently accomplished a pretty aggressive purge of my clothing, getting rid of items I never wear, I have lost too much weight to wear, aren’t my colors, or have become worn out.  I thoroughly enjoy putting together complete outfits that cost me very little.  Not to mention, the vintage items I find in the thrift stores totally fits my classic yet bohemian style.

How about you?  Do “hunt” through thrift stores?  Do you enjoy finding treasures for next to nothing?

God bless,

~Rhen

View From My Porch (Link Up)

Welcome to this week’s edition of View From My Porch!

This week’s post has been provided courtesy of our five-year old tornado, Susannah.

Beautiful glass, isn’t it?

Can you guess what it is?

Here is a little bit of a wider shot.

It is the fifth gazing ball that has been smashed into tiny beautiful shards that are so incredibly difficult to find and clean up.

While the untimely demise of my gorgeous glass ball lies firmly on the shoulders of Susannah and her bike, she did not break all five of them.  No, no, no, the whole family has joined in on the attacks against the lovelies I like to adorn my gardens with.  Mark (hubs), Noah (14), Emily Grace (12), and the roughness of moving have all done their part.

It is a conspiracy, I tell you!

As is so apparent, I cannot have glass or anything breakable in my gardens, but I love the look of a colorful orb.  So, that brings me to my next question.  Can you help me?  What can I repurpose, make, and/ or create to take the place of my far too delicate glass gazing ball?  We are talking a need for Superman durability here!

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So, what are you going to share from the view from your porch?

To God be the glory,

~Rhen

Tough Start, Nice Finish

Have you ever experienced those days where you look at the clock, realize it is 2:30 in the afternoon, and try to form a list of accomplishments that includes more than eating breakfast (a cup of coffee counts), brushing your hair (with your fingers works just fine), and you haven’t lost any kids?

Yeah, my week started out that way.  Two steps forward and five steps back seemed  the motto for Monday and Tuesday.  Ugh!

A few highlights {insert sarcasm here}:

  • It is heartbreaking finding Layla’s (3) cute, little, blonde curls on the ground.  Grrrr.
  • Misplacing the key to the filing cabinet where our school supplies  and completed work that awaits being checked are stored is not a good thing.
  • A toddler (Israel- 21 months) who is suddenly extraordinarily clingy makes multi-tasking almost impossible.
  • Over-sleeping just ONE morning results in being behind the eight ball all day, and that, for some aggravating reason, tries to continue into the next day or two.
  • The joy of discovering that Susannah (5), in her attempt to “clean” her room, crammed a globe slam-full of her clothing and toys.  A globe!!  Yes, she shoved the earth full of junk.

After what felt like banging my head against the wall Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, I decided it was time for a do-over.  Sometimes, we moms just have to clear our minds and to-do lists and start fresh.

Forget the days that were not productive, and drop the to-do’s that didn’t get completed.  That means it is time to create a two-day week out of Thursday and Friday, and use those two days to accomplish a new to-do list and new goals that will realistically fit in a 48 hour period.

Just a adding a little cuteness to this post with a sweet shot of my clingy Israel (21 months). How can I say “No” to that little face?

What does my new two-day check list look like?

  • Wash, dry, fold, and put away 4-6 loads of laundry (not too bad!)
  • Tackle a couple of lessons in Math and a couple in English.
  • Don’t scrimp on the Bible study or prayer time!
  • Include our favorite subjects- science (with Apologia, of course), geography, and history.
  • Tackle vocabulary and spelling next week.
  • Find something arsty to express ourselves artistically and let the creativity flow!
  • Think of a couple of cute and creative ways to style Layla’s hair in an attempt to make the gaps not quite so apparent.
  • Finish putting together soap orders.  (This one is very therapeutic for me!)
  • Spend some much needed wind-down time with Hubs.

By the time this evening (Friday) wraps up, this list will be checked-off, and I will be snuggling with Mark while the kids play a game of Monopoly, read a book, and/or play with the puppies.

This week may have started off on the rough side, but through a readjustment of my goals and my attitude, it is finishing very nicely.

How has your week been?  Was it like mine, or did you accomplish enough to put you ahead next week?  *grin*

God bless,

~Rhen

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