Don’t Blink…A Mamma’s Thoughts On The New School Year

 

Here we are. School Year 2020-2021 is well underway. We’re actually about 6 weeks in at this point. For the last couple of years we’ve been doing school year round because it gives our schedule a little more flexibility so we started back in July. We’d given the kids the choice of schooling year round or traditionally and they all voted to continue on this way.

Every year when I take these photos for their annual progress reports and portfolios, they take my breath away. The change in those little faces from one year to the next is astounding. The longer I am a mother, the more the words “Don’t blink” resonate with my soul.

These “little” years are so full and pass by so quickly. With each child it becomes more and more obvious to this Mamma heart that they must be deeply cherished because these little people will be grown so very soon.

So, even if you’re in the trenches of the little years right now, don’t forget to take pictures and cherish these moments. They will be gone before you know it.

Here we are with a 4th grader. A handsome, man-child with a big heart.

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A 2nd grader, full of charm and personality and cute as can be.

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A 4 year old preschooler who makes us laugh so hard we could cry and is just about the happiest and bubbliest little guy I’ve ever known.

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…and this sweet little beauty…she is so full of spunk and love. She melts us all.

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May God continue to grow each of these little souls for HIS glory. May this year continue to foster in them a love for learning. I pray that even when we’re in the middle of the hard days of homeschooling, we will be able to know and feel how blessed we are to be on this journey together. ❤

Weekly Menu Plan: FREE Printable

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We’re continuing on with our “Feeding a Family” theme and today we’re talking MENU PLANS!

Let me start by saying…menu planning is NOT my favorite thing to do. There…I said it. In fact, I can usually find 500 other things I need to do like now instead of planning the menu. The thing about it is, I know it benefits me so much to have a game plan for the week ahead.

Additionally, there are so many different styles of menu planning that it’s going to take time to find the “right” way to do it for your family.

Oh, and then there’s that whole as seasons change, so must your meal plan. Ha.

So…I think what I’m trying to get at is. Meal plans are good. Very good actually, BUT…you shouldn’t be so rigid about it that you can’t allow for life to happen and change plans. Because really, that would defeat the purpose of that meal plan, wouldn’t it?

The best recommendation I can make for you is this, shop around and pull ideas from lots of folks. Find the one that best fits your family and the current season you’re in (i.e. babies, picky eaters, eat you out of home(ers) or all the above).

Remember why you’re doing it in the first place. To help your family eat well and avoid unnecessary stress about what to feed that little army of yours.

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Keep it simple and don’t forget to add in some fun things…make sure everyone in your family can find something in the mix to get excited about. Trust me, you won’t please every member every day and some days you may not please anyone BUT a good meal plan will help you overall make it easier on you to please them and feed them healthy more often.

Ok. now that all that is out there…here’s a basic run down of how I plan:

*I usually plan my meals Sat/Sun because since Covid craziness became a thing I’ve been shopping weekly on Saturdays (I used to shop biweekly at multiple stores). Now I go to one store and order anything I can in bulk from Amazon. I start planning before I go shopping and then I finalize it after I get back because I still seem to have trouble finding everything I planned to use for meals at one store.

*We have a couple of meals that we do each week like “Friday night Pizza night” & “Taco Tuesday”. This is both fun and gives me a couple of “freebies” each week.

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*I try to have a couple of “back ups” on my radar and in the pantry and freezer. Think homemade Einkorn PBJ or “snack lunch”. Again, life happens and with four kids…it happens a lot and the whole point of all of this is to make life easier not more stressful, right? RIGHT.

*If something from the meal plan doesn’t end up getting used I shift it to the next open day and if necessary sometimes I switch meals from one day to the next…for example, this morning I made tomorrow’s breakfast because I was running behind and tomorrow I’ll make today’s instead.

*Don’t forget to plan what snacks you’ll have available for the week (if you have small kids you know what I’m talking about).

*It’s also a good idea to plan for a couple of desserts for the week too. Who doesn’t enjoy a nice treat a few times a week. And…if you at least plan to bake something you can make sure you have all of the ingredients at home when you go stock up for your week of meals.

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As you can see, I’m pretty easy going when it comes to my meal plan. I don’t have time or mental space for complicated things right now so simple is how I prefer things. If you’ve never done a meal plan but you’re interested in starting one, you can give this little worksheet a try. I created it especially for ya’ll (well…and myself). It is super simple and embarrassingly basic (don’t judge me) but it follows the basic principles I outlined for you and it will get you going.

Weekly Menu Plan

Happy planning people! ❤

 

Bagels From Scratch

One of the best things I ever did for myself and for my family was taking meals that we already love and making healthier versions of those things at home from scratch.

The next best thing I did for us is make a list of regulars for each meal that we rotate through on the weekly meal plan.

As promised, we’re starting off with breakfast and at the conclusion of the series we’ll give you all a free printable e-book with all of the recipes we’ve discussed OR you can just print each of the ones you love most right from the blog post.

Today we’re talking about one of our favorite breakfast items to make, Bagels. Fresh bagels straight from the oven with a nice cream cheese or homemade butter and jam are an AMAZING breakfast. Even my picky eater approves. Not only do they work wonderfully for breakfast, but those left over breakfast bagels can easily be turned into a bagel sandwich for lunch.

A couple of things you’ll want to consider:

  • Fresh baked goods will not store the same as the store bought versions. At most I can get 2 days out of homemade breads because they contain no preservatives. Typically when we bake breads here at our house, we eat them the same day OR we freeze them the same day and then stick them in the oven when we’re ready to eat the rest.
  • Use good flour…I finally bit the bullet and bought myself a grain mill this year so I can use the best quality of grains possible but if you can’t take that step, just make sure you’re getting the most nutricious flour you can afford. There are many reasons why freshly ground flour is the best option nutritionally speaking but it is a big investment. Consider using jovial foods or something like it to order a good quality flour. Check it out here: https://jovialfoods.com/organic-einkorn-all-purpose-flour-2lb/ 
  • When you’re baking breads, you have to know what breads require a higher gluten content. It’s certainly possible to use a low gluten grain like Einkorn alone for bagels but for us, we prefer to do half Einkorn and half white hard wheat. It gives us the texture we’re looking for and a great flavor.
  • Some breads require a little extra time and a few steps. Bagels are one of those. Consider making these in bulk, partially baking them and letting them cool. Store in the freezer and then pull them out and bake the rest of the way when you’re ready for more.

Let’s get started:

Homemade Bagels

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*I’m using a blend of Organic Einkorn flour (freshly ground) and Hard White Wheat (freshly ground). You will need to experiment a little to get the texture and flavor your family prefers but generally a mix of both a good All Purpose flour and Bread flour (for gluten) works well. I usually do a 50/50 mix.

Preheat your oven to 415 degrees Farenheit & prepare a large pot of water for boiling the bagels.

1 1/2 tsp yeast

1 1/4 c water

1tbsp pure maple syrup

4 cups flour

1tsp salt

Add yest and approx. 1/2 cup warm water to mixing bowl along with the maple syrup and let sit for 15 minutes until bubbly.

Add in the remaining ingredients and mix until gluten is well developed (dough is good and stretchy).

Let the dough rise for approximately 30 minutes.

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Separate into 9-12 even balls of dough and let rest for a few minutes.

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Shape into bagels and let rise for another 30 minutes.

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**you need to pinch the dough ends together to make sure the bagels hold their shape**

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Boil the bagels for 2 minutes on each side.

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Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

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Easy Vintage Floral Banner DIY

Are you looking for some super simple ideas to spruce up your home for spring and summer? I’m always on the look out for easy and very inexpensive crafts to add charm to our home. Today I have one for you that’s as easy as can be and very inexpensive! If you’re like me, most of the supplies needed for this project you already have at home, the others are either free or a few dollars at the craft store.

 

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What you’ll need:

Twine (or yarn of your choice)

cardstock (I wanted something light and bright…this pretty cream color almost matches our walls perfectly and looks fabulous against the pretty brown antique armoire)

free printables of vintage floral

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Could these materials be any more simple? Now let’s create that banner…

 

Step One:

Choose your favorite free printables and print them…I simply typed in free vintage floral printables into google and went through a few that I liked and then chose my favorite few to print.

Something like this…

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https://www.simplymadebyrebecca.com/2015/03/16/free-printable-royal-blue-and-yellow-botanical-art/#jp-carousel-1500

or this…

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https://www.onsuttonplace.com/library-of-free-printable-botanicals/

You can even use a vintage Patriotic print like this one for Memorial Day and Independence Day:

https://www.tinkerabout.com/4th-of-july-print/

**this specific printable is formatted for an 8×10 frame but I thought it was a great inspiration for a 4th of July banner as well. I’m hoping to find some other fun freebies and inexpensive 4th of July decor and DIY’s to share with you all soon** 

Step Two:

Once you’ve printed your images, cut your cardstock and prints into whatever shape you would like. I really enjoy the triangles, but anything you prefer will work.

Step Three:

Glue your prints to the cardstock and punch holes at the top in the center.

Step Four:

String the banner and hang it.

 

We don’t currently have a fire place so I hang our banner on our antique Armoire in the living room but it would also look lovely hanging on a mantle or even the wall.

It’s a wonderful way to add a little extra charm and seasonal decor on a small budget.

 

 

5 Simple & Practical Ways to Use Essential Oils

If you’ve stopped by here before, you probably already know that Essential Oils are a staple in our home. We use them every day, multiple times per day. There are so many reasons why we chose to start using them and I want to do a post on that as well someday but for today I want to share 5 practical ways we incorporate them into our every day life.

Before I get started, I would encourage you to do your own research. We have done ours and have been using Young Living oils for several years now based on that research. If you have questions about eo’s or Young Living, feel free to ask in the comments. 🙂

Now, onto the 5 simple and practical ways we use our oils daily:

  1. Immune System boost: I set a daily reminder on my phone to get out our Thieves roller so the boys can put some on their feet before bed, along with taking their vitamins. I make sure it’s just before bedtime so I can make sure they’re showered and ready to go by the time the alarm goes off (most of the time anyway). You can also take Thieves internally either in a capsule or in a small amount of water. I tend to take mine orally when I feel like I’m fighting something but for the kids, the roller bottle works the best.

 

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2. Boo Boo’s: Three boys…we have a lot of boo boos. We use a variety of oils for these            since it depends on the type of injury/ailment.

  • We use DiGize for tummy troubles by rolling it on their belly.
  • Then there’s Lavender, Copaiba and Frankincense for various skin issues (Eczema, rug burns, minor scrapes, bug bites). I also use Frankincense for my nightly skincare.
  • Deep Relief for sore legs from growing pains and other similar pains.
  • RC for congestion and sniffles.
  • I have a roller bottle with Oregano, Basil and Thyme that we use for ear aches along with a salt sock (the minerals in the coarse sea salt have healing properties as well as the heat which helps with the pressure and pain…you can add in lavender for added benefits. There’s lots of info on this one and why it works but one of my go to’s is this one: https://wellnessmama.com/59372/lavender-salt-ear-infection-remedy/). By the way, Oregano oil is one of the best antibacterial oils. It’s actually also a great remedy for skin tags…AND removing ticks! It’s a hot oil so you’ll want to research it prior to use but this is one of those oils I’d consider a “must have”.

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3. Aromatherapy: We typically have at least one diffuser going at all times while                   we’re at home. I have one in the kitchen/dining area, one in the living room and                 one in each bedroom. We diffuse everything from Grapefruit for an uplifting mood to Thieves for purifying the air and Lavender or Stress away for a calming scent. Gently baby or Aromaease for night time…there are so many others and it honestly just depends on the mood and situation.

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4. DIY Toiletries: I’ve been making many of our toiletries myself for quite some time             now. Mouthwash with Peppermint oil, handsoap with Thieves oil, Skin ointment                 with Frankincense and Lavender…Deoderant and Chapstick are next on my list of               things to try.

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5. DIY Household products: DIY Household products are also a very big part of our daily eo ussage. I make everything from dishsoap to laundry soap and “soft scrub” with Lemon oil, to dryer balls with Lavender to replace toxic dryer sheets.

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Getting started with essential oils can feel a bit overwhelming at first. Start small. Invest in a good starter kit and get familiar with a few staples. Then add a few more at a time. Do your research and invest in some educational books on oils.

I hope you’ve found this post helpful and if any of you are interested in trying out Young Living, please feel free to let me know in the comments and I’d be happy to help! 🙂

For the month of May, while supplies last, YL is giving away a free Lushious Lemon handsoap with the purchase of a Welcome Home starter kit, CBD starter kit, Ningxia starter kit or Oils Premium starter kit with a Dewdrop or Dessert Mist diffuser.

Let me know in the comments if you have any other questions about how we use our eo’s. 🙂

 

Summer Bible Study Resources and Activities

Are you wondering how to keep the kids going on Bible study and VBS alternatives? I did some research for my kids as well as some of the kids at church because we were all wondering the same thing…how can we keep them growing and learning and in the habit of church and Bible study when everything is so different.

I wanted to share with you all some of the fun, inexpensive (OR FREE) resources I found while researching options available to us now, in the midst of this strange season.

First, let’s talk about Superbook videos are excellent to add into screen time to reinforce some of your Bible study lessons. We’ve really enjoyed these. All three of my boys (ages 9,7 and 4) have loved watching them. My little guy incorporates these into his “school time” when the older boys need quiet to focus on harder subjects.

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 You can find those here:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmkgg5el8Fg3IX_baZyfSaQ

Another great resource are these Answers in Genesis videos and activities for some fun creation related content. These are also free. You could use these along with other resources to do a “creation week” group of summer lessons.

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https://answersingenesis.org/kids/videos/

You can also subscribe for their magazine as well if you’re interested. There’s both a kids version and an adult version.

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https://answersingenesis.org/store/magazine/

If you love watching family friendly movies with your kiddos…check out Pilgrims Progress, you can currently view the movie for FREE with your children by providing your email address! This was a great movie with a wonderful lesson! My boys thoroughly enjoyed it! Just keep in mind there are a couple of spooky parts so if your little one isn’t quite there yet you may want to forgo this one for now. 

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We like to do Friday night pizza and movie night at our house and this would be a great movie for such a night!! Get out the popcorn and treats and ENJOY! 

https://www.revelationmedia.com/watchpilgrims/

Let’s look at some daily Bible study materials next:

You can check out this one by Christian Preschool Printables. It’s a Bible study tool with a 4 day per week/26 week study for kids with printables! All you have to do is download and print!! 

Here are the free coloring pages:

https://christianpreschoolprintables.com/free-bible-abc-coloring-pages/

If you’re interested in the whole study, it’s very affordable at $15.

https://craftyclassroom.com/product/bible-abc-letter-of-the-week/

Another great and very affordable resource would be Teachers pay Teachers’ website, they have many different options for easy & printable worksheets, activities and posters that focus on the fruits of the spirit.

These could be very fun to carry through the summer weeks and then wrap up your study at the end with a fruit themed party! Don’t forget the fruit flavored popsicles and a fruit pizza! 

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Check out the recipe here:

https://pinchofyum.com/fruit-pizza

There are also lots of other free and affordable options for fruits of the spirit lessons if you’re not interested in this particular one. 

Free Fruit of the Spirit coloring pages:

https://ministry-to-children.com/fruit-of-the-spirit-index/

Now VBS is one of those things that my two older boys really love and look forward to but given the circumstances I wouldn’t be ready for that even if it were offered. I’ve been trying to think of some ways to keep the tradition going through all of this and when I stumbled on this I thought this may be a genius alternative to traditional VBS. 

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Check it out… a quarantine friendly VBS option! You can get a family license for $25! 

Here’s what’s included:

Single Family License. . . $25

  • Permission for a single family whose church is not hosting BOLT
  • Access to the “Family Portal” where you will find…
  • 3 days of video content (approx. 25 minutes per day)
  • Parent and Leader Guide with step-by-step instructions
  • Game directions
  • Materials list
  • Coloring sheets
  • Origami instructions
  • Spotify playlist with featured BOLT VBS music by “Citizen Way”

https://www.gocurriculum.com/bolt-vbs

I also wanted to share a couple of books you could use with your kids for Bible study. I’ve personally used and loved both of these. Of course there are many other affordable options out there as well but these two are books we’ve used often and know well. 

The first one”Know Your Bible for Kids” includes very short quick lessons on various topics. Perfect to use with a preschooler because it’s short and sweet and includes a verse to go with the lesson that could be shortened as needed for the younger kids. You can get it on thriftbooks.com for under $6.

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The second one is a little more expensive but still very reasonable. We have used it for homeschooling, but it’s also a fantastic resource for family Bible study whether you homeschool or not! It’s called “Art and the Bible for Children” and includes short Bible stories and that’s followed by an art lesson.

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Christianbook.com has it for under $17. My kids have loved this one for several years.

The last thing I wanted to share with you is the Ark Encounter

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Learn more about it here: https://arkencounter.com/about/.

Now I realize that this may not be happening in the next couple of weeks, but from what I understand this whole year, all children under 10 get in free. Given that circumstances, they may even extend that offer into next year (that’s my hope… so I’m keeping this one on my radar). If you like to take educational field trips during breaks or you’re just looking for a fun family activity once things get back to normal, then this could be something of interest for some of you. 

There’s no denying it. It’s going to be a different kind of summer for all of our kids this year. One like we’ve never had before. I still believe that with a little bit of extra effort and creativity we’ll be able to make it a memorable one. Most of all, I’m hoping that the most memorable part of it will be extra time spent together as a FAMILY.

 

DIY Laundry Soap

It’s been a chaotic and uncertain time for many of us these past couple of weeks so this space has been quiet a bit longer than I’d intended. Fortunately we are all well in my home and I pray those of you reading are healthy too!

As promised, I wanted to share a simple tutorial on making inexpensive (and easy) laundry soap. The more things you can make from home (using simple ingredients that we typically keep at home in bulk anyway) the less trips to the store you have to make. At the moment that’s a wonderful thing!

Even when life returns to normal, skills like making your own laundry soap help make life a little slower and more simple. If you’re like us and living on a small budget, DIY laundry soap along with other simple laundry ingredients and accessories, will save you quite a bit of money. 

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Here’s some info on the basic items that I buy regularly and try to keep on hand at all times:

A large jar like this one is what I use to store my powder laundry soap. You can find these at Walmart for roughly $9. I believe this one is their Anchor Hocking line. I can’t remember where I got the scooper from but I am pretty sure I didn’t buy it. It came from some other packaged item.

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Next, you’ll need washing soda, borax, baking soda and Fels Naptha bar soap. I usually buy the large box or bag of baking soda but during my last grocery run they didn’t have any so I had to settle for the little boxes. I usually keep multiple boxes and bars at the house so I have extra and can make it without having to run to the store for ingredients. With 4 kids I have a lot of laundry and make a lot of this stuff!

I also bought a grater from the dollar store that stays with my laundry supplies specifically for making laundry soap.

The washing soda is approximately $4 per box. The baking soda is $4 for a 5lb bag. The borax is $4.50 and the Fels Naptha bar is less than $1.

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In addition to the ingredients listed above, I have purchased the dryer balls in place of dryer sheets. Mine are old and need to be replaced so I’ve been looking around on Amazon for a replacement. These are what I’m going to be ordering soon:

SnugPad Wool Dryer Balls XL Size 6 Pack, Natural Fabric Softener 100% Organic Premium New Zealand Wool, Chemical Free and Reduces Wrinkles, 1000+ Loads

They go for about $9 on Amazon.

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Lastly, I use white vinegar in place of fabric softner as needed. Walmart has it for less than $3 for one gallon. I store some in a small glass jar with a lid to make it easier to use.

Ok, so now you know approximately what it’ll cost to get you started and what ingredients you’ll need. Now lets talk about what to do to put it all together. It’s going to take you about 10 minutes at most to make it. It really is that simple.

You’re going to fill about 1/4 of the jar for each of the powders (baking soda, borax and washing soda). Leave about 1/4 of the jar for the bar soap.

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Next, you need to shred the soap into fine shavings and add it in. Then mix it all together with a spoon.

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Now you have about a gallon of laundry soap. Depending on how much laundry you do, this will last you quite a while. I think for us it usually lasts about 2 weeks. I typically will use about a scoop to 1 1/2 scoops depending on the size of the load. The soap works very well to remove odor and stains. In fact, for stubborn stains, keep a whole bar of Fels Naptha on hand and soak the item in cold water and rub with the bar soap. Be sure to always use cold water with stains.

Side note: if you want the laundry to have a stronger scent when you pull it out of the dryer, you can add some drops of your favorite essential oils to the dryer balls. I really enjoy using Young Livings Lavender or Geranium oils for my laundry.

Another laundry tip: if you have problems with mildew odors in towels, use hot water to wash them and add a few drops of Melaluca oil. It’s an antifungal and significantly decreases that problem.

You can use this laundry soap on all of your laundry, delicates, towels, baby clothes and cloth diapers!

You can check out my post on what cloth diapers we use here:

https://oursimplefamilyliving.wordpress.com/2020/02/26/cloth-diapering-essentials-favorites/

You can also check out how I care for our cloth diapers here:

https://oursimplefamilyliving.wordpress.com/2020/03/08/caring-for-cloth-diapers/

I hope you find this information helpful and that it inspires you to live more simply.

Feel free to share any great laundry tips and tricks in the comments! 🙂

Stay healthy friends!

The Most Important Work

I fell behind this week. On pretty much everything. Some weeks are just like that. Try as I may, nothing seems to get done. It was hard. I don’t like chaos and disorder and frankly, with a large-ish family, you really do have to stay on top of everything 24/7. One day missed can lead to an oversized snowball of craziness. Even so, I find myself sitting back more and more and just taking them in. The sweet little voices, the silly little quirks, muddy pants (and faces). I know it’s going to be over in the blink of an eye. Home needs to be an organized, peaceful and cozy place of refuge for our families, which requires much wok from us. but it also must be a place where our children feel loved, respected and safe. It’s so easy to let all of the “important” work consume us, but we musn’t forget about the most important work the LORD has given us. To all the mamma’s out there struggling to get it all done, I wish you the best week full of the most important work!!!

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Homemade Sour Dough Tortillas

Today I’m sharing a family favorite with you guys! We thoroughly enjoy a good burrito in our house! They’re even more tasty (and healthy) with these homemade sour dough tortillas.

So let’s get started…

What you’ll need:

*see full recipe and instructions at the bottom of the post

  • all purpose flour (I prefer something unbleached like the King Arthur or Arrowhead Mills Organic)
  • salt (I like either a regular fine sea salt or fine pink himalayan)
  • olive oil (just a plain old olive oil will do)
  • water (I typically use hot water)
  • sour dough starter (you can omit this if you prefer to make them without it, just use less flour)

A few notes…

This is a great recipe for beginners because there’s truly not much to it! The hardest part is rolling out the tortillas thin enough and getting them flat in the pan. That just comes with practice. After the first few it’s smooth sailing. The dough is so simple to make, anyone can do it. There’s no special technique required! Make sure your pan is good and hot but not too hot. I prefer a cast iron skillet. Here’s what I use:

https://grocery.walmart.com/ip/Lodge-Pre-Seasoned-12-Inch-Cast-Iron-Skillet-with-Assist-Handle/5969633

The tortillas usually keep well in a ziplock bag for about a day or two.

That’s pretty much it! So easy!

Here’s a few photos of the process:

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Homemade Sour Dough Tortillas

  • Servings: 10-12 tortillas
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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Ingredients:

4 to 4 1/2 c all purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 c sour dough starter

1/4 c olive oil

1 2/3 c hot water

Directions: 

  • Combine all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl (Start with about 4 cups of the flour and add more if necessary)
  • Add in sour dough starter
  • Add in olive oil and hot water
  • Combine (add additional flour to dough until it’s no longer sticky)

**Generally when I make this recipe I like to allow the dough to sit for a few hours prior to making the tortillas to maximize health benefits from the starter, but if I’m in a pinch and I need them fast, I’ve made them right away with no problem at all. The beautiful thing about these tortillas is that they don’t need to “rise” so they don’t take nearly as long as a loaf of sour dough bread.**

Flour the surface you’re working on and set out your dough,

Separate into 10-12 small dough balls.

Roll out the dough balls very thin and place in the skillet. Cook for 1-2 minutes per side on medium heat.

5 Simple & Frugal Christmas Decorating Tips

Today I want to share some of my favorite decorating ideas for creating a festive home on a small budget with 5 simple tips.

  1. Christmas lights: 

Lights add so much coziness to a space! Even if you don’t have time and money for anything else, just adding a few lights can make a big difference in your home. In our early years of marriage before I had accumulated Christmas decorations, lights were pretty much all I had! Of course this was almost 17 years ago and we didn’t have Pinterest to show us all the lovely  & inexpensive DIY decorations! How did we make it without Pinterest?!

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2. Christmas fabrics & patterns:

The right fabrics and patterns also play a large role in the coziness of your home at Christmas time. Burlap is one of my favorites to have around the house for the holiday season. This year we added Burlap ribbon to the tree as well as the table runner. One of my favorite combinations is the rustic/natural burlap and sparkly gold accents or the warmth of the golden glow from the Christmas lights. Plad is another of my favorites because of the large variety in colors and patterns available. Combinig the more masculine plads with softer crocheted pieces works very well.

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3. DIY Garlands & Greenery:

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Store bought garlands can be crazy expensive! The thing is, the right garland in the right place looks pretty amazing! Whether you prefer the good old simple green garlands or something with more color, both can easily be made at home for a fraction of the cost. Depending on where you live…if there’s any kind of evergreen trees in your yard, it may not cost you anything for a simple green garland for a fire place, stair case or shelves.

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Other garlands you could try for a pop of color are these cranberry garlands. The beautiful red pairs so well with white and it costs very little to make.

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These also go well with the green Christmas tree and pair well with popcorn. Here’s a garland from last year’s tree:

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For some additional color, add in a dried orange garland in a window. These look beautiful when the sunlight streams in the window.

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4. DIY snowflakes:

Another very inexpensive and easy craft you can try are these snowflakes. They can be a fun family activity as well for the holiday season. They look beautiful in the window or on a fireplace.

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The popsicle snowflakes also make wonderful diy ornament gifts. You can add a small photo of your child in the center along with small sparkly jewel stickers and the year, for a sweet keepsake.

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5. DIY ornaments:

Ornaments aren’t necessarily super costly if you’re buying one or two a year, but when you’re first starting out as a new husband and wife with not a single ornament to hang on a tree and very little money (that was us)…that all adds up fast when you think about how many ornaments it takes to fill up a tree!

My favorite thing to do is purchase one special “fancy” ornament each year to add to our collection and then make most of them ourselves. We use salt dough and apple cinnamon ornaments mostly and occasionally we’ll add in cranberry or dried oranges as well. I’ve also used pinecones to make ornaments before. Another thing I love about making diy ornaments is the fact that our tree is very different from year to year and as we look back on the photos, there’s fond memories of what we did this year versus the year before and the year before that.

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A few extra thoughts on decorations:

Dollar store and Goodwill:

Don’t forget to check places like Goodwill or the Dollar store if you’re looking for inexpensive decorations! It’s a great place to start if you’re just starting out because sometimes you may find an entire collection of glass balls for a few dollars.

Hobby Lobby 50% off sales or 40% off coupons:

I love Hobby Lobby! It’s my “Target”. I’ve had people tell me it’s too expensive but I honestly don’t think it is, even on a small budget. The key with Hobby Lobby is patience and coupons or sales! I’m not sure if I’ve ever paid full price for anything since I found out about their 40% off coupon! Also, if you pay close attention to their sales, the way they work…their sale items change on a regular basis, you’ll have metal art on sale this week…frames the next time….paper goods after that.

Just before Christmas they had Christmas decor on sale 50% off and we were able to get our “fancier” annual ornament for a couple of dollars.

Hand me downs:

This may not be everyone’s cup of tea but I actually really love (some) hand me downs. I have a love of old things so anything pretty and vintage I will gladly use if I have space for it.

I’ve gotten an old adorable wooden rocking horse ornament this way. It’s one of my favorite! This is also why I typically look at Goodwill or other thrift stores for decorations because I thoroughly enjoy the old items.

Multi-season items like candle holders, vases, etc:

If you’re looking for ways to decorate on a tight budget, use items that can work with your style through the rest of the year as well. Wooden pices, metal buckets, glass or ceramic vases. These pieces can easily transition from one season to the next.

The little metal bucket sitting on our table with the greenery looks just as nice with some wheat for Thanksgiving or flowers in the spring and summer.

Simple and inexpensive decorations are just as pretty as the pricier store bought decor and they only require a little extra preparation. Additionally, they can make for wonderful annual family traditions that will help you create lasting memories!

Also, don’t forget to check out my other Christmas craft ideas here:

Mini wreaths:

https://oursimplefamilyliving.wordpress.com/2019/12/08/mini-wreath-tutorial/ 

Dried orange garland:

https://oursimplefamilyliving.wordpress.com/2019/12/14/dried-orange-garland-tutorial/