Monday, November 24, 2014

Book Ideas for Christmas Presents {Plus what I'm Reading}

My kids do not need more things for Christmas.  And as a Christian, I personally get a little frustrated with the idea of gifts at Christmas if we are supposed to be celebrating Jesus.  Because even in a Christian home, it is hard to fight against the excitement of presents and focus on Christ.  (Even if he really was born in Spring and not December 25th!)

This year I am thinking books.  Surprised?  Probably not.

Ava loves to read, and Owen loves to be read to.  And so do the littles.  Books are the perfect solution.

Here are some fun ideas.

1. Puffin in Bloom books
                         
I can't even handle it.  I ordered Heidi for my personal collection, and am fighting the urge to order all the rest.  I haven't bit the bullet yet because I own the other three books but not such pretty ones. I maybe could justify it if I ordered them for Ava for Christmas.  She just finished A Little Princess, which I forced her to read and she ended up saying it was one of her favorite books.  Here on amazon for $12.  Steal.                      

2. Penguin Drop Cap Collection
         
Again, gorgeous.  The giant letter on the front is the first letter of the last name of the author.  So the A book is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.  I actually bought the A book for Christmas for Ava because it's one of my favorite books, and since the cover is a huge A like for Ava, it was a total win-win.  These are about $18 on amazon.  These will be more appropriate for older kids, since most of them are mature classics like Moby Dick the "M" book since it's by Herman Melville.

3. Big Nate Books

We read one of these out loud to both Owen and Ava, and I have to tell you there were a couple of times when I was crying, I was laughing so hard.  Owen of course thought they were amazing.  They definitely have some boy humor, if you get my drift.  About $10 on amazon.

4.  The latest Diary of a Wimpy Kid

You'd probably have to be pretty sheltered to not know about the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books.  Not to mention the movies, which all my kids love.  This is the 9th book that just came out this month. Right now the hardcover is $8 on amazon.  Ava is getting this one from my parents.

And just for fun, what I am currently reading right now.


1. Drums of Autumn, the Outlander series continues for me.... I really like it, but just a fair warning, it's quite full of sex.  I just skim past it if it get's too nauseating.  And it does, but I still love this series.

2. Kristin Lavransdatter.  I am going to be honest- I was really excited about this book, Nobel Laureate Sigrid Undset wrote this trilogy, now compiled into one book.  But then I read the Wikipedia summary of it, and now I am less excited about it.  But with reviews like this: 

"No other novelist, past or present, has bodied forth the medieval world with such richness and fullness of indisputable genius.... One of the finest minds in European literature."

I may have to ignore what I remember from the summary and keep going.  I am only about 50 pages in.

3. Wildwood I bought this book because I thought the cover art was charming.  The story is as well, although I am not finished yet. Written for a younger audience,

4. The Apothecary Another confession, I bought this book because I saw it in a photo of the bookcase of Modern Mrs. Darcy.  Love it.  It's a charming book for a younger audience and ties in well with my love of herbs.  Plus there's a sequel.

Any great book suggestions for kids or adults I should know about?

Friday, November 21, 2014

When Do You Put Your Tree Up?

Traditionally, we have gone the Saturday after Thanksgiving or on the afternoon of Black Friday to get our tree.

snow covered majestic pines

We used to always go north to my parents, and then the cost of gas in 2008-9 went crazy and then we added a bunch more kids and it was easy to just go and pick one out from the big box stores.

But now it bothers me that they spray-paint them, and it seems like a good way to visit the family, and most importantly- we will be there already.

We might actually get our tree this weekend since we will be back at my parents to hopefully fill our deer tags.  Part of me is panicking about getting a tree before thanksgiving, but it seems to be the best idea.

I am still fighting the push for holidays way before the event actually happens.  A local store had Christmas stuff up in September and I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs to stop the insanity!

When do you put up your tree?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

My Trick for Winter Dry Hands

About mid-way through October my hands (and face, but that's another story) went crazy with the change in weather.  Add in all the hand washing, and dish doing, and my hands are screaming for some moisture.


Six Effective Home Remedies For Dry Hands
Ouch.

Here's the trick I've been utilizing quite effectively.

I take my homemade Lavender Salve, rub it all over my hands, put on my rubber kitchen gloves, and either do some dishes, or run some extremely hot water over my hands so the heat can help soak the salve into my skin.

Here's the recipe:

Lavender Salve

1/4c. dried lavender flowers
5 drops lavender essential oil
2T. beeswax pellets
1/2c. virgin olive oil

Add oil and lavender flowers to pan, warm oil on low for about 15 minutes,stirring occasionally, do not boil!  Strain out oil from flowers.  I like to put the oil into a glass measuring cup that I can then put into a saucepan that has a couple inches of water in it already.  Bring the water in the saucepan to a boil. Then I add the beeswax into the the oil, and melt together with the lavender oil.   Pour into a 4 oz. container, then add your lavender essential oil.  Let cool for a bit before putting the top on.  Once it isn't super hot, I like to put the top on my jar and shake it.  It seems to help it solidify up quicker than just waiting for a long time.

  

Monday, November 17, 2014

Free Thanksgiving Printables- perfect hostess gift, or for yourself!

Any one of these would make a great hostess gift, or print them for yourself

Give Thanks Chalkboard Printable
Chalkboard printable.  Love the look of anything chalkboard, cringe at the ink usage.


Thanksgiving Quote Free Printable ~ Eat, Drink, and Be Thankful | {Five Heart Home}
Maybe this printable should say Eat, Drink And Be Full if your Thanksgiving is anything like mine!

Awesome banner, and if you look close, it's teeny clothespins holding it to the ribbon.  Adorable.


And these are adorable for sending a thanks after you've gotten home and recovered from the food coma!

            
Here for Woodland Thanksgiving  


Here for Grateful Praise thanks                              



Friday, November 14, 2014

Herbal Cough Syrup {Homemade, no junk!}

My kids are starting to cough again.  Sigh.  It's that time of year.

But spend 5 seconds on google looking up cough syrup, and you will see tons of articles about not giving your kids cough syrup- it doesn't seem to work, (studies have shown that honey performs better than cough syrup) and it has actually harmed a whole bunch of kids.  In fact for the last several years the FDA has said to not give it to kids at all.

What's a momma to do?

Make your own.

homemade cough syrup ingredients
pretty herbs all in a bowl...(picture from Commonsense Home because I forgot to take one!)

Herbal Cough Syrup (adapted from Rosemary Gladstar's recipe- the uber herbalist)

2T. fennel seed
1T. licorice root
1T. slippery elm bark or marshmallow root (I used marshmallow root because I had it)
1T. valerian
1T. wild cherry bark
1t. cinnamon
3/4t. ginger

Honey (raw is best)

Measure all herbs (not the honey) into stovepot.  Add 1 quart of water.  Bring to a slow boil, simmer until liquid reduced by half.  This takes awhile.  Probably 20-30 minutes.  Strain herbs, and measure liquid.  For each pint of liquid add 1c. honey.  Add honey and liquid back to pot and heat until mixed through. You can also add a small amount of brandy (80 proof, at least)for a preservative.  Pour into mason jar and store in fridge.  It should last several months.  Dose will be 1-2 tsp. every hour or so as needed.

Now the big question for most of you is, where in the heck do I get something called slippery elm bark?

I buy all of my herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs.  Although, they were out of the wild cherry bark so I ordered that through the Bulk Herb Store.

The cost of all this (you were wondering, weren't you?!) really isn't that bad.  Mountain Rose Herbs sells in different sizes, if you buy the smallest which is 4 oz., the cost is about $23 plus shipping, assuming you already have the cinnamon and ginger in your cooking cupboard.  But then you have enough herbs to make a lot of cough syrup.  (not to mention researching what else those herbs are good for)  So in the end, it will cost you less than buying cough syrup from the store, plus you eliminate all the nasties that the FDA is saying are now harmful to children.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Getting Rid of Plastic

Everyone knows that BPA is bad.  Lately, I have been thinking that it's just better to move away from plastic in general.

Now that the littles are 4, 4, and 3, I felt like they were ready to say buh-bye to the ubiquitous IKEA cups and plates (love them!  cheap, BPA free and colorful!) and on to glass.

IKEA KALAS Tumbler - for v's kitchen. We find new uses for these daily... stacking, sorting, filling, emptying... 

But what do you transition to once they outgrow or you want to get rid of the IKEA cups?

Mason jars.



Hear me out.  These half-pint mason jars are perfect for little hands, you can drop them and they are almost impossible to break and they are cheap.  Like $9 for 12.

The big kids and Chris and I drink out of the anniversary blue ones, and our littles love the glass ones and feel like they are big now.  Especially because we switched their plates to dessert plates made of ceramic.  They almost died the first time they came to the table and it wasn't their beloved plastic.

The bigger issue for me is what to store leftovers in?  We don't usually have a lot but I have been trying to make bigger meals so Chris can take them for lunches.  I just use the cheap glad plastic containers, but it gives me the willies, and I never put them in the microwave to warm up food.

Still, I'd like to get rid of them but don't know what to use.  The glass containers cost so much and you get so few of them.

One step at a time, I guess.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

That Christmas Smell Without Candles

This time of year comes around and I start thinking warm house scents.  Especially now since on Sunday we got 12+ inches of snow.  (Can I just officially go on the record saying how much I hate winter?)

"I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape - the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn't show." - Andrew Wyeth
Isn't this pretty?  And not really related but since blog posts without pictures are kind of boring, here it is.

We've been using essential oils for health reasons and just for smelly reasons.  I have a Pumpkin Spice candle I love to burn but haven't figured out oils to replicate or get close to it.

A friend borrowed one of my diffusers to try and she happened to have Young Living's Christmas Spirit essential oil blend.  It contains Cinnamon Bark, Spruce and Orange oils.  I don't know the specific amounts and I don't really like orange, but I bought a Spruce to combine with the Cinnamon I already had.

I am loving it.  Amazing smell, health benefits and a nice, warm feeling even if it is miserable outside. I just sort of add drops of both and sniff and add more of one or the other to make the right mix.

I'm trying to break away from candles because they can have all sorts of objectionable things in them. Even the ones made in the USA.  It's harder then you'd think it would be and I probably won't do it completely.

Mainstays 20 oz Candle, Pumpkin Spice
My favorite candle is from Walmart, Pumpkin Spice for $5.  I love it.  Don't tell the die-hard oilers!   That ugly label peels off easily so you don't have to stare at advertisement when you gaze into the flames...