..........Contact me at Mom25dogs@gmail.com.........

Contact me at Mom25dogs@gmail.com

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Our Trip To Illinois

Here are the digital scrapbooking pages I did of our trip to Illinois to visit Jenny, Kyle and Brett.

Our visit to Chicago!

At home.


Tanner's Orchard, Speer, IL

Molly's Wedding Reception

Our niece, Jenny, is married to Kyle Hauser. Kyle is the middle child in 6 children of whom 5 of the 6 are married with families of their own. Kyle's parents and his siblings live in Illinois (except for the baby, Marc, who is stationed in the Air Force in Kuwait right now). When I went to visit Kyle, Jenny and Brett a couple of weeks ago, I got to meet Kyle's family. Ronnie, Peggy, Kathi and Angie also got to go and they met the Hausers. Kyle's youngest sister, Molly, had recently gotten married and her parents, Matt and Naomi Hauser, gave them a Wedding Reception that happened to be planned while we were in Illinois visiting. They kindly invited us which gave us a chance to see all the family and get to know them a little. The reception was very nice and the food was excellent. All of Kyle's family were kind and hospitable and it was very nice meeting them. I thought I would do some digital scrapbooking pages of the event not only because Kyle, Jenny and Brett were there but to thank them for their hospitality and kindness. Our little Jenny is way up there in the flat grasslands of corn country in a small town far, far away from her family and friends. But the Hausers have included her in their family and helped them so much. For that we are very thankful!
Here is the photo of all the siblings and their spouses (except, as I said earlier, poor Marc who is in Kuwait serving our country).

The colors in the photo were blue gray, black and red except for Kyle's green shirt. To indicate the formality of the party I used silver and diamond scatters. I used the red to pop and the black to center it. I used the green sequined flower and journaling block to pull in Kyle's green shirt.

This digital scrapbook page shows Molly and her new husband with their cake and her sister, Ashley, giving the toast to the new couple. The colors in the photos show her in a gray and black dress and the reception rooms wallpaper is a blue gray but the cake was beautiful with brown vines and orange leaves. so I struggled to choose colors in the layout that would reflect the gray, blue, black, brown and orange. I think it ended up looking pretty good.

Clutter Free Gifts

Here are some ideas for clutter-free gifts. You know, we all have too much. Our kids may have so many toys we don't have room to store them and they don't have time to play with everything they get. We have houses, attics, basements, garages full of stuff! And often we are renting mini-warehouse space for our junk. We end up having to store, organize, clean and maintain all this stuff. Wouldn't it be nice not to worry about more stuff, more clutter, more junk? So what can we give others that won't end up in boxes in the back of shelves, take up space in the garage, or jam up our closets? Here's a list I put together.

Ticket(s) to the movies, a play, a musical, a concert.

Coupon to a favorite restaurant, fastfood or family of nice restaurant.

A gift in their name to their favorite charity.

A gift card from a favorite store (don't forget their favorite grocery store).

A case of their favorite drink (Cokes, Pepsi, Blenheim Ginger Ales, Root Beer) or a package of their favorite tea or a gourmet coffee.

Make a deposit in their college savings account.

Buy a savings bond for them.

Give school supplies like spiral and ring bound notebooks, pencils and pens, notebook paper.

Give a magazine subscription.

Give dry goods mixed to make something such as a mason jar with 13 bean soup, muffin mix, cookie mix, drink mixes, etc.

A nice grouping of soap, lotion and body spray.

A new hair brush, comb and scrunchies.

A day at a spa.

A coupon for free manicure and/or pedicure.

Annual pass to a museum or nearby amusement park.

Season's tickets to their favorite team's events.

Make some homemade goodies like fresh baked bread, cake, pie, cookies, candy. Worried about giving all that sugar and calories? Then do some research on sugar free desserts. Those on diets or have special dietary needs would really appreciate some sugar free candy or cookies or muffins! Then there are cheeseballs, cheese spreads, frozen casseroles in tin foil baking pans (so they don't have to be returned).

A "coupon" or voucher for a personal service such as a free babysitting, a free bathroom clean, a free back rub, a free garage cleanout, free carpet shampoo with your carpet cleaner, free pet sitting for a weekend.

Give plants. If you have a plant that can be divided, sends up baby shoots, or can be clipped and rooted...do this and give to teachers, pastor's wives, etc. Look for nice pots during the yard sales like pretty sugar bowls sans lids, planters and pots, pretty large coffee mugs, etc for mere pennies!

Party Trays - gather things you would have for an instant party...a movie DVD, box of microwave popcorn and some bottled Cokes. Put this on a clear plastic tray (buy in party shops for a couple of bucks) and wrap up with heavy cellophane and lots of ribbon. Or put a couple of pretty teacups (bought at yard sales) with a jar of homemade Russian tea and a floral candle. Or put a couple of nice mugs (bought at yard sales) with some hot chocolate mix, some candy canes and a Christmas movie on DVD. Maybe they like music? How about some snack mix, a 6 pack of Rootbeer or Blenheim Ginger Ales and a music CD.

For a person in a nursing home: lotion, stamps, note cards, pens, address book with family addresses in it, journal, photo album with family photos, slippers, a gift certificate for having their hair done by the hair dresser that works at the nursing home, a cheap watch with LARGE numbers (cheap so that it doesn't get stolen).

A calendar or desk calendar with every family members birthday and anniversary noted. Use some stickers, bright colored pens, index size photos to make the calendar fun!

A package of compact fluorescent bulbs.

Emergency supplies for the car: Ice scraper, thermal blanket, windshield hammer, battery operated flashlight and radio combo, small tool kit, good battery cables, Call Police windshield shade, warning triangle sign.

A CD or DVD of family pictures or family movies. Something that the technically illiterate can use just by putting in their DVD player or in their computer without having to do anything else.

Good pens and pencils.

Purchase a reusable plastic container and add bath crayons, bubbles, bath paints, bath foam.

Pay for a class for a child such as music lessons, sewing lessons, cake decorating, pottery classes, swimming, scuba diving, gun safety, etc.

A hand made recipe book would be a good idea. A compilation of old family recipes from your family, and your friends' families. You can even embellish the pages, laminate them, add pockets, put down stories or notes as to the origin of the recipe. Include a photo of the person making it or of the dish or someone eating it.

Gift certificate at a book store, a book or a book on CD.

Knit a sweater, cap, mittens, socks or scarf from yarn found at goodwill/used clothing store.

If you are skilled in a particular area, offer a lesson or class.

Fill an old trunk, box, laundry bag or suitcase with fun clothing, hats and gaudy jewelry for children to play dress-up.

Gym membership or personal trainer service.


A scrapbook for someone that celebrates something. It doesn't have to be a large scrapbook. A small one like 8x8 or 4x4 or even using photo albums that have pages for 4x6 photos. Use a photo in one pocket and use the next pocket for journaling and embellishment with stickers, etc. Just cut some scrapbook paper into 4x6 sizes and embellish. It could be about a family vacation, a special celebration like high school or college graduation or wedding or first born.

A scrapbook with some simple scrapbook supplies such as acid free paper, some stickers, acid free pen and adhesive. Give one of your old scrapbook magazines with it to give them ideas. This is great for children from 10 yrs old up to teens, young adults, older adults! By the way, the cheapest place that I've found really nice scrapbooks and photo albums is Ross. They are usually $5.99-$6.99 for a leather 12x12 scrapbook.

Cheap Gifts

I did a list of Clutter Free Gifts in an earlier posting. But how about CHEAP gifts!?! If you are on a budget, then you might need some ideas on cheap Christmas gifts. Even if you aren't on a budget, you may just want to make a project this year of how much money you save instead of how much you spend on Christmas gifts. Anyway, I got online and found some great ideas for cheap Christmas gifts.

Gourmet coffees with a personal coffee cup

Pound of pistachios or other nuts

Child's artwork, framed

Teacup with box of herbal tea

Deck of cards and book of card game rules

Homemade cocoa mix in a pretty jar

Collage of special photos

Gel pens and pretty stationary You can make your own stationary by cutting 8 1/2 x 11 sheets in half and adding a rubberstamped image or some stickers.

Bottle of sparkling cider

Home baked bread, include recipe

Disposable camera or rolls of film or offer to pay for digital photo printing.

Small basket filled with a deli cheese, crackers and fruit

Craft supplies

Pretty basket filled with special jams or mustards that you made

Decorative napkins and napkin rings. You would be surprised at what nice napkins you can buy at yard sales or thrift stores. Launder, iron and make some napkin rings.

Fancy chocolate bars tied with a ribbon

Gardening gloves with a plant or flower seeds

Photo album, hand decorated is even better

Makeup tote

Prepaid photo developing envelopes

Homemade cookie mix with instructions for baking

Variety of bread mixes

Special coffee cup filled with candy

Fancy magazines tied together with a pretty ribbon

Gourmet popcorn and flavored oil

Locally made barbeque or steak sauce with basting brush

Pancake or waffle mix and a bottle of real maple syrup

Movie theater gift certificates

Jar of sourwood or pure honey with biscuit mix

Book of stamps

Picture frames, buy them on sale or at yard sales

Make your own cookbook, print and put in a binder you got at a yard sale

Pretty glass jar filled with candy

Collectible sports cards

Muffin mixes with muffin pan

Books, there are still a few for under $10, especially if you buy them at yard sales or library book sales or thrift shops

Set of dish towels and dish cloths

Nail polish kit

Pretty night shirt

Basket filled with kitchen gadgets

Video rental gift certificates

For the pets, gourmet dog biscuits or cat treats, you can make these yourself

Baking pans and supplies

Prepaid long distance phone cards

Pretty photo box for keepsakes

Colorful Post-It notepads

Address book and put your address in it

Christmas ornaments, you can make some great ones

Blank video or cassette tapes

Sewing supplies

Flashlight with batteries

Favorite quote embroidered on a nice handkerchief

Makeup brush set

Expensive socks, still under $10

Special soaps and bath puff

Home baked cookies!

Paint a clay pot. Think polka dots (using the eraser of a pencil dipped in acrylic paint), circles (using a glass turned upside down and pencil around it for a pattern, then paint), stripes, dip the top in paint and let it drizzle down. If you are good with painting, paint a scene or use a stencil.
Make a birdhouse and paint it if you want with your leftover house paint.

If you are able to knit and pearl then how about knitting a scarf. I haven't a clue about how to follow a knitting pattern but I can knit and pearl so making a scarf is easy! It's just a loooonnnngggg square! Or you can use cotton yarn and make dishcloths. It's just basically making a square. But you may be a knitter and know how to make socks, mittens, hats...Go for it!

If you can sew and have a sewing machine how about making doll clothes, Barbie dresses, pillows, tote bags, tablecloth, napkins. If you are a sewer then you know how to shop for fabric and bring home the cheap bargains.

Make a mixed CD

Make a DVD using family photos or old family movies and give to family members like Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles, etc.

Here is a place for making your own soaps, masks and lip gloss:

How about jello popcorn for mass gifts? Here is the recipe:
12 Cups popped popcorn
1 (14 oz.) can Eagle Brand condensed milk
1 (3 oz.) pkg jell-o
Heat oven to 300. Line large roasting pan with foil and butter foil. Put popcorn in roasting pan, take out all unpopped kernels. Keep popcorn warm in oven. In medium sauce pan combine Eagle Brand with Jell-O and mix and heat over medium heat until thick and bubbly about 4-5 minutes. Pour over popcorn and stir well, Bake 20 minutes, stiring every 5 minutes, When cool break into pieces.

Don't forget the cheapo classic kid's gifts such as yo-yos, frisbees, jump ropes, magnifying glasses, Silly Putty, Slinkies, Play Do.

Make a dress-up box for boys or girls. For the girl's box, shop thrift stores or yard sales (or your own closet) and put together some scarves, high heel shoes, hats, aprons, dresses, cocktail dresses. Be sure and wash them before gifting them. Spray the shoes and hats with Lysol. For the boy's box put in cowboy boots, hats, ties, sports coat, Halloween costumes you got on sale after Halloween like firemen, policeman, pirate, etc.

Make a homemade felt board. Buy felt and use a large piece of cardboard. Cut the felt and glue to the cardboard to make a generic scene. Maybe a room in your house, or a hill top with clouds. Then use felt to make trees, bushes, houses, furniture, animals, even felt people (making to look like your family). If you don't feel comfortable with cutting in free form, use coloring book images as a pattern. The child can arrange the items on the felt board and tell stories.

How about making pillow cases? Trace their name on it with pencil and embroider them.

Make tie dyed tshirts for the teenagers.

Make walking sticks! Find branches that would make good walking sticks. Use a knife to whittle off the bark in several places. Use a burning tool to burn designs on these places such as animal heads, animal tracks, etc. After you have the designs burned on the stick then coat with a couple of layers of polyurethane. You can also drill a hole in the top and loop a piece of leather thong through it.

Fill a bucket up with outdoor fun things like giant bottles of bubbles, sidewalk chalk, jump rope, magnifying glass, a ball.

A blank journal or sketch pad. You can even embellish it yourself!

Make book markers.

Buy some plain and cheap photo frames. Decorate them according to the recipient's taste and put a favorite scripture or photo inside. Using glue or a hot glue gun you can glue on rocks, silk flowers, shells, beads, little painted wooden embellishments that you buy in the wood section of your craft store, their favorite candy wrappers, etc.

Make a winter scarf or afghan using fleece. It can be a no-sew project. Do a Google search on how to do it.

If you are a beader then make cheap bracelets, necklaces or ID holders.

Bath Salts
4 cups Epsom salts
2 cups sea salt
Essential oils for scent (lavender is excellent for relaxation, citrus oils also work well)
Food coloring (optional)
Mix the two salts together; this is the base for your bath salts. Using 2 cups of salt at a time, add 4 to 10 drops of essential oil and food coloring as desired. Mix well, then place in a ziplock bag. Let cure for two weeks, shaking at least once daily. Once salts have cured for two weeks, transfer to containers for use in gift basket.

Clock works can be bought at craft stores for $5-$7. Make a clock using anything. How about an old circuit board? An old plate (using a special drill bit for china)?

Read a book and make a book on CD for your loved ones. It just takes time.

If you are an artist how about making an original sketch, painting, story, CD of your songs, CD of your music, write a story, draw a cartoon, etc.

Use an old sweater to make a "winter" pillow.

Use old clothes to make a quilt, a quilted wallhanging. Especially meaningful if made from the recipient's old clothes.

Make a birdseed ball.

Make Christmas ornaments using old CDs.

Make a puppet.

Make finger puppets.

Make herbal olive oil or vinegars and put in old wine bottles. But the pour spouts for next to nothing.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Recycling Bottles

I did a search on the Internet on reusing bottles. I found some great ideas on how to re-use bottles and I'm always amazed at how ingenious people are.

Using old bottles to make infused oils and vinegars for your own kitchen or to be given away for gifts. You can buy corks or use the lids that came with the bottle.

Water with food coloring.

Adding rub ons or decals to old bottles.

Fill with homemade bath salts.

For liquid soap

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Children's Rooms

Does your children's rooms look like this?

or this?

It's so easy for rooms to get into this condition! I understand how it happens. And even the best housekeeper will have rooms that might look like this every once in awhile. But it shouldn't be a constant thing.

If you have children, part of your job as a parent is to teach them how to become adults who can function in the real world. This includes teaching them how to clean the house, how to be organized, how to do basic housecleaning on their own. Maybe you are one of those adults who never really learned how to keep a clean, organized home. Maybe it's something you've always struggled with. Maybe you are even one of those extreme people who have become a hoarder. Then I know you want better for your children! You don't want them to grow up to be one of those people we are seeing on the TV show "Hoarders". You don't want them to have the stress of living in constant chaos. You don't want them to be handicapped as an adult, unable to have a pleasant home. If your living room constantly looks like this (again, even the best of us have days like this but if it's a continual, constant condition, you have a problem):

Then it's no wonder your children struggle with keeping their rooms cleaned. Do you want them to have a home they dread coming home to? Or a home that they enjoy coming home to?

The answer is, NO! You want them to have a pleasant home, a home that is sanitary, clean, organized so that they have less stress and more peace. But the way to learn is for you, as parents, to teach them! We don't come into the world knowing how to clean and organize, it's a learned action. There are those who have a personality that tends towards neatness and organization (I'm one of those) and there are those whose personality isn't naturally bent in that direction but anyone can learn how to run the washing machine, how to pick up their clothes, load the dishwasher.

Maybe you are one of those who is a perfectionist and keeps a very tight ship. But we can sometimes jump in and do everything ourselves because teaching our children takes too much time, is aggravating, and makes a simple job into a more complicated activity so we just do it ourselves. Some even want to do it so their children don't have to. Sort of a "let them have their childhood" kind of thing. Others just don't want to have to go through the arguing and hassle of getting their children involved in cleaning.

But let's be very clear here! Children won't learn unless we teach them. They aren't going to wake up one day and say, "I'm going to clean my room". If you do it for them, they will let you. And they won't learn to appreciate and respect what you do if they have never done it themselves. It is really for their best interest in the long run (and they won't understand that until they are adults and have their own home) that you teach them now how to run a household.

Of course there is balance in all things. It's not right for your 8 yr old child to have run the whole house while you work all day. They do need a childhood and they do need play time. As the adult you have to decide how much responsibility they can and should take on. It can't be an inappropriate amount. It's unrealistic to expect a 2 year old to be able to change their sheets or clean the bathroom. But it's necessary for an 8 yr old to be able to change their sheets and clean the bathroom. It's unrealistic for an 8 yr to know how to buy groceries, use coupons, make a menu and grocery list. But it's necessary for a 16 yr old to be able to do those things. You start with age appropriate tasks and build them up so when they are ready to go to college or get their own home, they know how to take care of themselves and are not handicapped or crippled by ignorance.

If your child was in an accident and lost both his hands, you would understand their handicap and you would do all you could to enable them to be independent as they reached adulthood. Well, sending your children out into the adult world without teaching them and giving them the tools to cope with their household or finances is handicapping them. We want them to be independent but they can't be if we don't teach them. It's never too late to start teaching them. It's going to take imagination, patience, consistency (and they will call that "nagging"), firmness. They will resist and you will have to use age appropriate tactics. Maybe a chore chart would work for a 7 yr old but it probably won't with a teenager. You use discipline in the right way and use positive reinforcement. I'm not a child behavioral expert or professional TV nanny so I can't give you expert advice but there are plenty of resources for you to research on how best to teach your children. Try not to lose your patience and get into shouting match. Here are some of my suggestions.

One thing, if your recalcitrant child won't clean up their room, you might think about how much stuff they have in their room. For instance, do they really need that many clothes? Maybe you are buying too many things for your child to handle. How many clothes can they actually wear? If they have 50 prs of blue jeans, they have too many. They can't possibly wear that many. And styles and fashions change so quickly why spend so much on 5 prs of currently stylish boots when next year they will be out of style. Why does your daughter need 10 Barbie dolls? Why does your son need 500 Lego blocks? How many stuffed animals can a child enjoy? Our materialistic society and the temptations brought about by modern marketing will drive us to spend way too much on junk we don't need. Children were perfectly happy getting a couple of well chosen toys at Christmas back in my day so why aren't they happy with a few good toys now? Why do parents feel like they have to spend $500 per child (or more) for Christmas presents? Our society and marketing have created too much of a demand and it's up to us to decide what is appropriate for our children. If they have too much stuff to take care of and keep picked up, then start taking stuff away and purging. And quit buying everything they demand. They need to learn some self-discipline and how to set priorities. If they get everything they want, they will never learn how to save for what they really want, set priorities and have a goal. You have to show some self-discipline by saying "No" sometimes, to set limits and stick to them.

If they have clothes laying all over the floor then they obviously don't appreciate them enough to take care of them. So start taking the clothes away from them until they can show that they can take care of them. Remove all but 2-3 outfits from the closet. Put them in plastic tubs and lock them in the trunk of your car or hide them in the attic. If they pitch too much of a fit take your child(ren) with you to take one of their outfits to charity so they can see what will happen. Make them show responsibility to earn back more clothes. Don't give them money to buy more clothes if they can't keep up with what they have. Being firm and consistent, it shouldn't take too long for them to decide to shape up or do without.

As long as your children have good hygiene, are clean and neat, you shouldn't worry about whether or not they have a new matching outfit for every day of the month. So if they are down to 2-3 outfits and you wash clothes every other day, then let them sweat it out! And if they earn their clothes back but fall into their old bad habits, take them away again. They have to see that you stand behind your threats. Don't make threats and not follow through. That's worse than saying nothing.

Same with toys. Start teaching your 2 yr old how to pick up toys and put them away. Use some bribes when they are that young. Maybe say, "If you help Mommy pick up toys you can have an ice cream." Two year olds will do a lot for a treat. When they are 8 yrs old have a chore chart and give them a prize or allowance for doing their chores without being told to. A few times without getting the prize or their allowance should straighten them up. You will find some children don't care if they get a prize or allowance and won't do their chores. So you have to use your imagination to find what will motivate them. Maybe it's taking away their cell phone or computer/gaming time, etc.

If having too many toys is the problem, ration them like you would the clothes. Remove all but a few of their favorites and make them earn toys back. If they get ugly about it, take them to Goodwill and give one of their toys away. They will know Mommy is serious. When they put their toys away without incident they can earn a toy back.

Something you can do to help solve the chaos and clutter is to regularly go through the toys and clothes and purge. Personally I purge twice a year at the change of the seasons. Any clothes that I didn't wear, aren't comfortable, no longer fit, have any defects are tossed or given away. If your children have outgrown clothes, have aged out of toys, have broken toys or torn up clothes, get rid of them. Why should you have to worry about taking care of 15 stuffed animals that your 10 yr old never plays with any more? Don't waste your limited space by taking it up with clothes and toys that are useless and no longer needed. The less space you have, the less you should be keeping. I had 2 Barbie dolls for my whole childhood - Barbie and Ken. I didn't have but those two and I took care of them because I would only get those two. Now if something uncontrollable had happened such as the house burning down, I'm sure my parents would have gotten me another Barbie and Ken. But short of that I knew I had to take care of them or I would do without. We had a few Barbie clothes, maybe 3 outfits and then we were reduced to making our own Barbie clothes out of scraps of cloth. We didn't have a Barbie house. We used little boxes, household stuff and even books to make furniture in a corner of our room for a Barbie house. We used the bathtub with water for a Barbie swimming pool. I got very few purchased books although I was, and still am, a heavy reader. Mom took us to the library to check out as many books as we could and we had to return them all so it meant keeping up with them. It was free! I never felt deprived or "poor" and we weren't. We had a wonderful childhood. Today children really have too many choices and too much stuff so they end up not appreciating what they have and treating it as so much garbage. You don't want to raise a spoiled, ungrateful child because they will be spoiled, ungrateful adults who can never be satisfied and who don't have respect for others. They end up with that entitlement attitude which is not only an unattractive trait but where does it stop? "I want that diamond ring, I deserve it, I will steal it." And then jail time and their life is ruined. Our parents should (if they are able) provide love, security, safety, training, and provide for our basic needs. This doesn't include giving them everything that comes down the pike or fulfilling their every whim. That is irresponsible. I have to think of all the money that is wasted on needless toys and clothes that are taken for granted and eventually donated or thrown away. Couldn't that money be saved for a college tuition? A downpayment on a first home? A tour of Europe after graduation? Are you wasting money by spoiling your children and teaching them irresponsibility in the process?

I'm not proposing that your children get an orange, a penny and a new pair of socks for Christmas. But I'm saying that a pickup truck of toys is too much. Spending more than you can afford without debt is too much. Buying so much stuff that you can't easily store it and keep up with it is too much. That money can be better spent.

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