Reviving Motherhood

Learning on the Journey


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Make a Cute Wardrobe for $5 a Month

I have heard women say time and again, “I can’t dress cute because I don’t have any money for clothes.”

Hogwash!

No woman should ever lack cute outfits because of a tight budget—at least not in the USA.

There was a time when I never dreamed of shopping thrift.  I don’t know why—I guess in my mind that is where poor people shopped.  So I would cripple along on my frugal clearance outfit or feel guilty for paying full price out of desperation.

Thrifting changed all of that.  I’ll never be a fashionista, but I am happy with my wardrobe most of the time.

Here’s another thing I hear about clothes.  “I don’t want to spend money on clothes until I lose weight.”

Don’t ever go there!  You can look beautiful and put together no matter what your size!  Don’t let extra pounds discourage you from taking care of yourself and dressing nicely.

Sometimes when I go to the thrift store they have nothing I can use, and other days I totally score. 

I’m careful about thrift shopping because it does take a little more time, time I don’t have.  My favorite tiny thrift store is on a main street where I pass at least weekly, so I try to give myself an extra few minutes to pop in and look around.

The other day was totally a “score” day.

I found 4 pairs of never-worn, tags still on Bermuda shorts in my size, from Target, Sears, JC Penney, and Eddie Bauer.

Never mind that size is not the one I wish I was in.

And I don’t even know if Bermuda shorts are still in style.

But.  They looked good on me, and at 75 cents each, how could I pass them up?

Think about this.  What if you had only $5 a month to spend on clothes?

One month you score like this.  Or a piece here and there.  $3 total.

The next month, maybe you find four cute shirts for a similar price.

That is not a big wardrobe, but if they are clothes you love, you could wash them regularly and have a minimal everyday wardrobe for the whole season—for literally less than $10.

Not all thrift stores are created equal.  Where I live, the biggest and most popular one in town has higher prices, it’s dirty, the employees are rude, and they never have sales.  Occasionally I brave it because their selection is huge, but not often.  My little store is in a quieter part of town, it’s small, and a lot of people don’t even know it’s there.  But it’s also clean, well run, and inexpensive, and that keeps me coming back several times a month.

Another thing I love to thrift are housewares. 

My house doesn’t look like it came from the pages of Flea Market Style, but it does look a lot cuter than it did before I started shopping thrift.  I could never bring myself to spend bookoodles of cash on brand new housewares when there were more important things to buy.

Here’s a recent find.  The cute stripey plates are Ralph Lauren and the complete set came with a platter too.  Everything else in the photo is thrifted as well, except the candles that I got for 90% off clearance after Christmas one year.

Just a few bucks for a whole lot of pretty.

I know this post has been rambly, but I just want to encourage you—if you don’t normally thrift, it’s a great way to save huge amounts of money.  Just give it a try!

If you’re a thriftier, what is your favorite-ever find?  What items do you look for on a regular basis?

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Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, this fall.

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How to Find Joy Wherever You Live

My first home was a murder scene.

The parsonage where my husband and I lived as newlyweds was the same house where the previous “pastor” had shot his wife in the head and passed her death off as a suicide before he ran off to his internet girlfriend.  (He was later convicted and sentenced to life in prison without parole.)

The little church my husband pastored had once been in a respectable part of town.  Over the years the neighborhood had deteriorated until drug addicts and drunks walked the street in front of our house and crack dealers sold their wares on three street corners we could have hit with a well-aimed rock.

The sheriff couldn’t carry a gun because convicted felons were prohibited from doing so.  If I recall correctly, he’d been elected to his second term from jail.

Reader’s Digest named the local judge one of the worst in the nation.

The nearest Wal-Mart was in a small town almost an hour away that had one of the highest murder rates in the US.

A few days after my first baby was born, a gang fight erupted in front of my house which left a person lying in the street.

I called 911.  Nobody came.

That’s not even to mention that I had moved far from family for the first time in my life, sight unseen.

I loved it.

No, really.  I did.

My husband and I decided when we got married that we were going to enjoy wherever God placed us.  Our family joke is that God seems to send us to places no one else wants to go.  And everywhere we’ve gone, we’ve found joy.

Good things are there if you just look for them.  In our first home, we had wonderful neighbors across the street.  We had a precious church full of loving, caring friendsseriously some of the best people in the entire world.  We even grew to be on friendly terms with some of the regulars in our rough neighborhood.  The other day I ran across a picture of a young man from the neighborhood whom my husband led to Christ, and who broke free from a lifestyle of drug abuse.

We lived near the largest bottomland hardwood forest in the United States, which was known for its rich hunting.  And we enjoyed the beauty of thousands of acres of fertile farmland that surrounded our little town.

The Methodist church down the road from ours had a Fourth of July celebration every year that was like something from a Norman Rockwell painting—watermelon eating contests, tug of war, a lemonade stand, and fireworks over the creek.  Our two churches shared a unique bond of fellowship and Kingdom-building that most communities never enjoy.

We lived in an area rich with history and with a unique regional culture.

We still miss our precious friends from that time in our lives.

Maybe we were crazy.  But I’m thankful that we were just crazy enough to obey God and determine to love where He had us.  Thankful enough to not let our happiness hinge on our surroundings.  Thankful enough to choose contentment and joy.

It’s not that we were so amazing.  Heavens, no.  I was a pretty broken girl when I came to that place.  I look back with embarrassment at the mountain of things I did wrong.  But that—that, by the grace of God, I think I got right.  And if I did it, anyone can.

Here are three ideas for how to find joy anywhere.

Embrace the call.  Acts 17:26 says that God “has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings.”  He decided long ago where you would live!  If God has placed you in a place you don’t really want to be, make up your mind to enjoy it anyway.

Ask yourself how you’d act if you were there on vacation.  Are there any special historical or cultural events?  What sights would you see?

Build relationships.  People make a place great, not surroundings.

Have you ever found joy in a difficult place?  Tell us about it in the comments!

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Blueberry Baked Oatmeal for a Crowd

Blueberry Baked Oatmeal

6 eggs

1/2 c. honey

1 can coconut milk plus 1 1/2 c. water OR 3 c. whole milk

6 c. old fashioned oatmeal

1 t. baking soda

1/2 t. salt

1/2 t. vanilla

1-2 c. blueberries, fresh or frozen

Mix wet ingredients well, then add and stir dry ingredients.  Gently fold in blueberries.  Pour into oiled 9X13″ glass baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for around 35 minutes.  Enjoy with extra honey and cream!


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Thrift Store Bargains and Frugal Valentine Decorating

I didn’t set out to talk about thrifting today but the pictures I took and the fun I had kind of ended up leading to that.

{Clock: Big Lots.  Mirror: Thrifted, $10.  It was gaudy gold, but a can of spray paint fixed that!  Antique sewing machine: family heirloom.  Candlestick: Hobby Lobby 90% off clearance.  Bird: Dollar General 80% off clearance.  Heart place mat: Dillards 70% off clearance.   Vintage books: used book sale. I am sure the candle was clearance or overstock too.}

After years of not decorating and years of not knowing what to do in my house, I studied and studied what other people did–mainly on their blogs.  I got adventurous and started visiting thrift stores and picking up inexpensive little bits of this and that.

I learned that it was OK to experiment.  My first experiments were kind of bad and cluttery.  That is OK.  They are easy to change.

I used to have my favorite scrolly white pitcher and basin here.  I paid $3 at the thrift store for it.  I knew it was just a matter of time but I hoped against hope because I enjoyed it so very much!…and sure enough it got knocked off and broken this week.  Oh well.  I enjoyed it while it lasted.

I realized that my house is not going to look like other peoples’ houses and that is not just OK–that is good!  That is what makes my house mine, and what makes it a pretty and comfortable place for my family!  It doesn’t have to look like a magazine.

{Heart place mat: Dillard’s 70% off clearance.  Platter: thrifted.  Votive holders: thrift store clearance.}

I actually don’t look for too much housey stuff right now.  I’ve come to a place where I am content with what I have.  If I find something amazing, I will pick it up, but…Right now I am happy with what I own.

{Heart plate: wedding gift.  Frames: thrifted and spray painted.  Window: salvage.}

I do still stop by the thrift store.  Excuse the terrible picture, but I just had to share.  Today I found 2 similar skirts that looked like fancy boutique items.  They were $1. (Correction.  They were 50 cents.)  When I put them in the washing machine tonight, this is what I found on one of them.  Just a little gift from God!  I am glad someone else paid $90 for a skirt they never wore so I could benefit!  I find that amusing!

Have you found a bargain lately?

{linking up}


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31 Days to a Kitchen You Love Day 10: Making Nontoxic Cleaners

 

Making non-toxic cleaning products has been on my list of things to do for a very long time.  I finally made it to a health food store to buy some essential oils–lemon and peppermint to start with.  I used the lemon to make an all-purpose cleaner which I’m using as I scrub the counters (water, a squirt of unscented soap and 20 drops of essential oil), and I added the peppermint to my mop water.  I love the smell of peppermint, so when the house smelled like a candy cane after I mopped, that was totally fine with me.

Here is a great post about making your own cleaning supplies.  It is so very wonderful to be able to clean without the chemical headache I get after using commercial cleaners!


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31 Days to a Kitchen You Love Day 8: Love Jesus. Love People.

Getting the kitchen in order for practical purposes is all well and good, but it lacks heart without the why.

My goal is to live my life by two principles: Love Jesus.  Love people.

So how does this work out in the kitchen?

Because I love Jesus, I obey him.  And while I believe that there are many valid configurations of God’s role for women, as I listen to God, I know that right now mine is to be a stay at home mom to 5 small children.  This is the sphere where I am able to glorify him in the mundane and humdrum.  Washing the dishes doesn’t feel very spiritual sometimes, but only if my mind creates a false separation between the sacred and the secular, instead of remembering that God is Creator and as such is Sovereign over all of life.  Not only that, but he has given all good gifts for us to enjoy on our earthly sojourn—beauty, flavors, memories, relationships.  My pleasure in his good gifts brings him pleasure in return.  I can glorify him and love him and worship him through the womanly gifts he has given me to make a house a home.  The hours I spend in cooking and washing up don’t have to be restricted by my own thoughts.  My kitchen can become a sanctuary of prayer and service.

And loving people? Obviously I love my husband through food.  And at this time in my life, I get to pour into my little ones.  This is not just discipling their souls, but also filling their hungry bellies with nourishing foods that will help them grow into the healthiest people they can be.  It’s nurturing their hearts with beauty and sweet memories so that they grow emotionally whole.  It’s showing love by preparing their favorite foods, some of God’s wonderful gifts.

In addition, through the kitchen I get to show hospitality to those God puts in my life—friends, neighbors, and sometimes strangers.  Even the simplest meal prepared in their honor says, “You are important to us.  Eat with us and tell us your story.”  Doesn’t service and listening open hearts?

God is not separated from daily life. If we ask him to be, he’s there (as Brother Lawrence said in his Christian classic The Practice of the Presence of God) among the pots and pans, not only our Savior but our ever-present Friend.   All of life, we remember, flames with God…


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31 Days to a Kitchen You Love Day 4: Counters…And inspiration via Nigella Lawson

I recently discovered Nigella Lawson and think she is fascinatingly entertaining, even if the recipe is something I coudn’t or wouldn’t make!  Kitchen inspiration for sure!  My 10 year old likes her because she is pretty and my 6 and 8 year olds insist that she is a math genius because she used metric measure!

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I noticed something funny yesterday after I had been cleaning and beautifying the window.  My 10year old tied on her cute ruffled apron and started cleaning the kitchen.  In the middle of the afternoon.  Without prompting.  This does not happen!  Do you think my efforts to make the kitchen a more special place are working already?  Getting my kids to work was not really one of my goals, but if it has that effect, I’ll take it!

Today I’m going to be working on my yucky old tile countertops.  I’m not a fan.  The grout is narrow so a normal wiping doesn’t really get them clean.  I cleaned them awhile back, but they get bad again quickly.  I’ll also scrub and bleach the tiles.  I don’t really want to use a toxic Clorox-type bleach, so I’m going to give lemon juice and baking soda a shot.  I’m looking forward to having nice clean counters.  One day perhaps I’ll have a smooth surface, but until then I will do the best I can with what I have!

Of course cleaning them necessitates decluttering too.  I’m sure I’m not alone in the fact that kitchen counters tend to catch clutter.  There’s little that pleases me more than to see tidy, uncluttered countertops, and I’ll admit that between constant cooking/washing up and regular daily clutter it rarely happens.  Maybe today?

What do you use to clean your countertops?  Any tips for keeping tile sparkly clean?

And what do you do to make the kitchen a place where your children like to work?


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31 Days to a Kitchen You Love Day 3, Plus Chicken Spinach Salad Recipe With Honey Lime Dressing

{image source: google}

Before I get to my 31 Days post, here’s another kitchen tidbit.  I made the yummiest salad for lunch and it was so good I thought I’d pass on the recipe!

Chicken Spinach Salad w/ Honey Lime Dressing

Spinach

Cubed cooked chicken

Chopped avocado

Pumpkin seeds (or whatever nuts/seeds you like)

Throw it all in a bowl and top with this dressing:

Juice of 1 lime

1 T. olive oil

1 t. honey

Whisk together and toss salad with dressing, salt and pepper if desired.  So delicious, and great for these autumn days that are still warm!   (Although today actually feels like fall and I’m so thrilled!)

Later this week I hope to plant a winter garden–lettuce, turnip greens, spinach, and onions.  Salad greens are so easy to grow.  Isn’t the idea above a cute one?  I never would have thought of planting a container garden in an old wagon!

On to more about the kitchen window:

So I’m enjoying my lovely white valance.  Today my goal is to clean up the rest of the window.  The shades are dusty and the sill seems to catch clutter.  I also need to wash the window.  A secret:  I never wash windows.  **Blushing with shame**  I am just so excited if I can get the floor mopped.  But I don’t want smudges and smears blocking all that natural light, do I?

I’m using vinegar and water, just as I do for my mirrors.  The vinegar smell is a little offensive (although it fades quickly) so I made orange peel  vinegar according to Rhonda’s instructions.  Would you believe I can’t find the post now?  Do click over and visit her lovely simple living blog!

The gist of it is that you put orange peels in a glass jar, cover with white vinegar, put the lid on and let it sit for a few weeks.  Much better!

So tell me, am I the only window-washing slacker?

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For the rest of these 31 Days posts, go here.


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31 Days to a Kitchen You Love, Day 2: Window Treatments

{Keeping it real, I actually took a pic of my window but I have a sleeping baby on my lap and can’t upload the picture right now.  So I borrowed this one from Lissa at Keep it Simple, Keep it Fresh…Hers is much cuter!  Go visit her amazing blog!}

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The kitchen window holds sweet memories for me, not the least of which is that the first time I saw my now-husband was through the kitchen window!  My sister and I spent many, many, MANY hours washing dishes together (for our family of 7, sans dishwasher, cooking everything from scratch).  It’s probably where I learned more about diligence and faithfulness than anywhere else, for the dishes march on whether you wash them or not—so they’d better get done!  I spend lots of hours doing dishes as an adult, with the kids’ help.  I’m sure they’ll put in their fair share of time at that sink with the window above it, so why not make it a pretty spot?

I love natural light.  Nothing lifts my spirits more.  My large kitchen in this house only has one window, but it’s a good size and it’s in the standard place over the sink!  It’s been plain for most of the 4 years I have lived here.  The first thing I wanted to do in this mini makeover is to dress it with a pretty little valance!

I checked the retail stores but they didn’t have what I was looking for, and besides, I’m too thrifty to pay $15 a panel.  When I peeked into my favorite thrift store, there was a perfect set of 2 white valances for $2.50.   {Side note: thrifting pays!}

I have always loved The Nester’s idea of window mistreatments.  Although these are real curtains, I mistreated them a little.  One had a tiny stain near the end.  I will tell you a little secret, I just hacked it off.  No one’s the wiser.  My window is wide, too wide for a single valance.  I used both and scrunched them together.  The Nester’s words have inspired me so many times:  It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful!

What about you?  Do you have window treatments or do you prefer to keep your windows plain?  Is there something you want to change about your windows?


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31 Days to a Kitchen You Love

We’ve all heard, I suppose, that the kitchen is the heart of the home. And traditionally it was. These days it’s more likely to be the place where we pour a bowl of cereal or zap a premade meal in the microwave.

But for those of us with a few kids who want to feed our families healthfully or have special dietary needs, the kitchen becomes a place where we spend a LOT of time. So why shouldn’t it be the heart of the home, the best place in the house, the place where people are drawn to hang out and where we love to cook? We’re going to spend many hours there each day anyway; why not make it a place of blessing, abundance, and beauty? The place where conversations happen and memories are made?

I’m joining The Nester and her friends for 31 days of posting. Each participant chooses her own topic. Mine is 31 Days to a Kitchen You Love. This comes at a perfect time for me, since I had already planned to revamp my kitchen while spending almost nothing. A remodel would be nice, but until then I want to make the best of the kitchen I have, even if it’s not perfect. Truly, I have a great kitchen in size and shape. Before baby was born I did quite a bit of organizing, but in the ensuing chaos of learning to live with 5 small children, it’s quickly fallen into disarray. Over the next month I’m looking forward to doing some small thing each day to make it work better, and to make it a prettier and more fun place to be. And each day (fingers crossed), I’ll write a bit about it.

After all, the journey I haltingly chronicle on my sporadic little blog is what I learn about being a better mom, and that includes even the “have to,” mundane parts of life like tidying the pantry. But it’s much more than that. I want to become a better and more organized cook, I want to learn more how to nourish my family well, and how to nurture and disciple them in the small, daily bits of life, even while we’re cooking supper or washing dishes. The kitchen can be a place of disorder and drudgery, or it can be a sanctuary of worship as we practice God’s presence in the everyday and ordinary. I love the way Ann Voskamp says it…Because all of life flames with God…

Will you join me?

Day 2: Window Treatments

Day 3: Cleaning up the Window, plus Chicken Spinach Salad w/Honey Lime Dressing Recipe

Day 4: Countertops, Inspiration via Nigella Lawson, and a thought about kids in the kitchen

Days 5 and 6: Hey friends, I haven’t forgotten about 31 days. The past couple have been insane, but there is so much going on in my mind and heart that I want to share asap! I had to download the wordpress ap just so I could write this update since I can’t even get to the computer…hopefully tomorrow! Ironic that just when the thoughts begin to flow, I am hindered! Bear with me please!

Day 7~Just trying to breathe today, I shared a couple lovely kitchen links!

Day 8: Love Jesus.  Love People. 

Day 9: Oops!

Day 10: Make Nontoxic Cleaners

I’m afraid I’m failing miserably at my attempt at 31 days, so I’m going to delete my button from the link-up.  I’m glad I did it but my posts have been sub par.  What I’ve learned through this is that I don’t have time to blog daily no matter how much I want to, and I’d rather have quality poss less often than obligatory posts every day.  Thanks for reading!

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