How I keep my kids engaged with important stuff

It’s spring and around these parts (side note – lots of cool bloggers use that term and I’m not ashamed to steal borrow it)… We think about lots of things.
Cleaning up sticks….

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Daffodils that just bloomed…

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The crocus that open up every morning…

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My creeping Jenny that are coming back to life under a sea of dead leaves…

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And we think about Easter. We are trying to think more about this topic with our family. I usually don’t post a ton about this topic because for us, it’s woven into our lives. We don’t go to church – we are part of a body, a family. We don’t have to read our Bible – we want the Lord to change our hearts and we know His words to us are far better than anything we can come up with.

Easter is a beautiful time of year.

So I’m constantly thinking about how can I think His thoughts. And we want the same for our kids. The other day before school we made a list of things we think about when we think of Easter.

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We purchased Amanda White’s ebook that gives great craft ideas that are – wait for it – intentionally helping our family think about and discuss the Easter story for two weeks. We made a perfume bottle using a jar, skewers, essential oil and stickers {shown below in the top left corner of the photo}. It reminds us of the woman who poured perfume on Jesus feet shortly before he died.

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We really are thinking about Jesus all the time and I love that.

So that’s what we’ve been up to these days.

How do you create purposeful conversations and moments with your loved ones this time of year?

Bathroom Vanity Mirrors: Rehabbed Windows

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Well, we are back at it again with our bathroom. After a very long hiatus we are finally moving forward with the finishing touches. We found these amazing windows at a salvage barn near us. The funny thing is that the business is primarily a glass business but in the process he collects a lot of old things and resells to the public.

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So we were there one day looking for something else and told Jim about our project in our bathroom. He says to me,

What about these old windows that were taken out of a church that are up in the attic? Let’s go take a look at them because I think they would be perfect for what you described!

And sure enough. Perfect!

We took the windows over a year ago {ahem, slackers here} with the intention of cleaning them up – sanding, cleaning, sealing. Well after a long pause we FINALLY delivered them to my buddy Jim. He called today and said they were done.

Not only did we recycle something from days long ago (my fave!) but we also got a pretty good deal too. $60 each which included him removing the old glass and cutting mirror (remember the top portion is rounded so it’s not something we could easily do) and finishing up the back so it’s covered and ready with wire for hanging.

What do you think?

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Next on the list is paint for the walls and  painting the medicine cabinet over the toilet black. Oh and yes we will hang the mirrors too. I was just too excited and had to see them in the room asap!

Hope to be back soon to show you our progress!

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Cheers,
Steph

How we celebrate life

Right now I’m pausing to tell you how I’ve spent the week celebrating the gift of my now 5 year old.

Have I told you what a joy he is? He really is. We love him so and got to have a fun week with him.

Monday was St Patrick’s Day and his teacher at preschool is from Ireland (and did you know that I really adore Ireland so that makes her extra special!)… so Ben and another friend got to be the king and queen of the “paddies”. Highlight was the crown he got the wear and standing on a table. We also shared cupcakes on this day too.

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Tuesday, a playdate with a friend and dinner at Chick-Fil-A. Fast forward to his birthday on Wednesday. Leader and share person at school, playdate with another friend, Pioneer Club (think Boy Scouts with a Christian theme) and yet more cupcakes and then opening presents from mom and dad.

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Now today I’m decorating for the big party on Saturday. We are having it at our church so the kids have plenty of room to run around.

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Listening to great music on Pandora…

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Using my free batman-themed printables from Pinterest…

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…some boxes a friend gave me recently. ..

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Really want it to be special without spending a ton. He’s worth it. I love celebrating life!

Cheers,
Steph

How to go “Green” and still be normal

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How in the world do you go green without turning into a hippie? How do you transition into using products that are healthier and safer without turning into a crunchy tree-hugging person?

I’ve posted about my desire to go “green” before but I wanted to share an update about some little things we are doing to change things up in our family.

We tried in the past and failed. I wanted to do the cloth diaper thing but we couldn’t get it together. I have tried other natural things in the past and burned out before I could get into a routine.

It’s important to tell you the secret to this. It takes time. Little by little. NOT am overnight adventure.

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First I still reference this great book called Green Up Your Cleanup. She includes tons of ideas and recipes about how to make your own detergents and cleaners. Using natural cleaners like vinegar amd baking soda are what make up a lot of her book.

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One thing I’ve removed from our home entirely is bleach. We do not use it at all. Everything I’ve read about this chemical has left me with the conclusion that we can clean and disinfect with other things. And we do. Essential oils can actually help with that task. Getting white clothes clean? We use washing soda, Borax or a similar oxygen based product like Oxy Clean or Charlie’s Soap. Works great.

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Another thing I’ve done is I’ve tried to use towels and rags instead of paper towels. Waste from paper towels is mostly unnecessary when I use a towel and wash it. I still buy paper towels but am making a conscious effort to use them sparingly. It saves us money too! I purchased both of these for $2.00 at the Dollar Tree.

I bought castile soap and I use it as shampoo, hand soap and add to cleaning solutions.

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I am experimenting with my own homemade “shampoo”. Technically it’s called no-poo because it doesn’t have the harsh detergents in them. For a conditioner I’ve toyed around with coconut oil and a cider vinegar and essential oil/water mix. Still working out the details but so far so good.

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I also keep a container of baking soda in the bathroom and have used to scour the shower/tub. Works wonderfully and super cheap and no smell!

I’m trying to avoid using plastic bags and disposable containers. Instead I use these…

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So, we’re fumbling along but I like to do what we can to be natural and kind to our earth.

You, too, can go green without changing your personality.

Once I work out my hair care regimen I plan to write something about that too.

Leave me a comment. How do you go green? I want to hear ideas!

The lost art of saying thank you

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Perhaps I’m old fashioned but I like sending thank you cards. I know,  yawn.
But in an effort to be intentional and let people know that I’m appreciative, I’m on a mission to make this a priority this year.

It doesn’t even have to be fancy. You can take a piece of card stock and cut it in half, write

thanks

on the front and then proceed with your note. Forget about spending $4-5 per card at Hallmark, just do your own thing.

The point is, in our busy world of electronic everything, take the time to say thanks to someone or perhap send a congratulations more to a new mom. I LOVE getting snail mail. It’s like the best thing ever.

How can you express thankfulness to the people in your life today?

Why we decided to buy a $300 blender

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Well, we did it. Last week we purchased a $300 blender. But not just any ordinary blender. We purchased a Vitamix blender machine. The reviews from friends and online pretty much confirmed our decision to go with this brand.

But more importantly, why,  right?

Well, we really want to eat healthier using fresh and non-processed food. This bad boy can do so much (or will when it arrives in the mail)…

Like make smoothies which is normal.

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(But we are making healthy smoothies so this gadget can do more for us.)

Like blend AND COOK – yes cook – a butternut squash all in one step.

Like make ice cream.

And I’m sure so much more too!

Our family is trying to do more clean and healthy eating. Less processed foods and more fresh food.

Cheers, here’s to a new kitchen toy!

Love Where You Live {Why I Love My Town}

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I want to tell you why I love my town. Better yet, I want to show you photos of my town. Pictures are better than words any day…don’t you agree?

My husband and I moved here in 2002 and rented an apartment for about 2 years. We moved here because … well, it was cheap. $700 for a 2 bedroom 1 bath apartment was a steal. And for a poor newlywed couple, that was perfect.

We live in an old steel town in Pennsylvania. It was the home to a booming industry (making steel of course) decades ago and has since morphed and changed since those days. One thing that has survived is that vintage feeling – the homes especially. If you live in the “town” or “borough” as we Pennsylvanians call it, you can practically walk anywhere to get almost anything you would need. Pretty cool.

As I walked my daughter to her bus stop and home every day this year I would sometimes pause and remember how fortunate I am. I can walk to the library, grocery store, park, movie theater, restaurants galore, hairstylist, and so much more.

The older I get the more I realize it’s important to bloom where you are planted. We are trying to do that on our little stretch of neighborhood. It’s hard because our culture really has infused in us – in me – this idea of doing things for yourself and not really thinking about others much. Our family desires to fight that a little. I want to know my neighbors. I want to give meals to them. I want to interact and break bread together. I want to know their names and their pets’ names. When you live in a town like I do that’s a little easier. My challenge to myself is to intentionally love those around us. To pause more. To smile way more. To converse more (I believe my husband thinks I need to do less of this though).

So here are some photos of our town for you to enjoy. It’s just so charming…

imageI love the rounded doors on this home. So unique and rare to see these days.

 

 

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This could be – maybe – the house of my dreams. Just maybe.

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This is one of my favorite homes near us. I love the old brick and the newer looks that were added to it.

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Our town held a huge Pumpkinfest this year. It involved a lot of pumpkiny things but the best was the pumpkin derby. You know…when you take pumpkins, stick wheels on them, dress them up a bit and race them downhill. Everybody does this right?image

 

Yep we let our kids ride their bikes (and we walked) to the pizza shop. Love.

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These planters are newer to town and line the “downtown” area. I believe these were either created using some old steel from the town or made to simulate that look. Either way the rustic/vintage/weathered look is pretty cool.ryan pub wreath

 

A local downtown business puts these beautiful fresh wreaths up on their doors at Christmas time. So festive!Snowy yard The home above still heats using old fashioned wood. The owner can be found outside – winter or summer – splitting logs and cutting firewood so he has enough to heat his home all winter long. See all that wood stacked up in the background. I am also a fan of the old wrought iron fence.

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Psyche. Tricked ya…the above photo wasn’t actually shot in my town. This beautiful shot was taken this summer while Mr IG and I got away – sans kiddos – to Malibu, California for a dear friend’s wedding. We decided we should go sea kayaking on the Channel Islands and so glad we did. Just making sure you were paying attention. Bravo, you passed!

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