The Groundskeeper

Apr 152018
 

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As much as I would like to live in my own little bubble, in my own little corner of the world, tending my garden, reading books, drinking coffee, and feeding birds, that idealized vision could only last for so long.  That is the problem with ideals, they are, well, ideal.  They do not account for realistic details.  For example, in order to sit in my garden drinking coffee and feeding birds I would have to had bought coffee, with money earned from somewhere, washed the dishes in order to have a clean cup, and have weeded the garden in order to have anything growing worth gazing at.  None of those – washing dishes, weeding the garden, working – were in the glimpse of my idealized world.  Yet, they all must have happened at some point or another.

So it goes with history at times, either we idealize it or forget about the smaller details completely.  At times, it may not matter so much – like whether a distant past relative made roast or chicken for Sunday dinners.  At other times, it is very important to remember what happened, how we ended up where we and the world is at today.  The actions and words of people in the past have greatly played out into the world we are now living.

Kevin Peraino takes a look into the past, piecing together the different strands to give us insight into how the events of 1949 set the path for where China has ended up today.  A Force So Swift: Mao, Truman, and the Birth of Modern China is not a story which follows a straight path, but instead flows from one thread to the other, logically, giving the reader a broader understanding of the forces of the past which had an influence on the molding of what we see today.

In other words, the only cure for a run-away story is another story.   ~Kevin Peraino, Prologue to A Force So Swift

I greatly appreciated the broader picture Peraino laid before his readers, connecting and relating the different aspects of what was taking place in various parts of the world, among various factions vying for control and influence.  It is no easy task to walk someone through these details without losing them along the way.

A Force So Swift contains many details, not only in the main body of work, but also in the extras.  The beginning of the book contains a map of the China and surrounding countries, marking locations of various cities and regions.  The last quarter of the book hold an Epilogue, Notes, and a Selected Bibliography.  The 261 pages between these two is split into three Parts, which helps delineate various times in the story’s progress.

The research which went into this book resulted in a narration filled with facts, references to primary sources, snippets of conversations and communications, and expansions of the characteristics of the various players.  As a testament to the author’s skill, he did it all without making the reading too dry.

Truman thought he was being caution in his decisions.  It turns out there was more going on then they realized.  Little did they know this would lead to yet another war within a couple decades, one which would claim many American soldiers’ lives.

China is looking back to its past, trying to find where it went right and wrong.  Learning from their past is a part of finding their identity and creating a better future.  It can be tricky to pinpoint these “good” and “bad” parts among the various tellings of history.  Which has the correct view?  Which recounts it the clearest? How was one affected by the other?  These are questions which do not always have answers.  It takes more than 261 pages to work through over a century of ones history to find the truth, if there even is a single right one.

As I listen to the news and read reports of happening in our country and overseas, I can not help but see influences from the past showing themselves today.  None of us live in a bubble; what we do effects others, and what they do has an impact on us.  We may not know the result of those impacts, whether for good or not.  We may assume one outcome, one which never materializes.  None of us can predict the future.

Should we give up then?  By no means! Keep fighting for what you think is right. Things can change. Meanwhile, remember, the story will not end with you.  Your role is a part of the bigger whole, even if it feels as if we are only  weeding the garden and feeding the birds.

 

I received a copy of this book from Blogging For Books to review.  All opinions are my own.

Apr 032018
 

I was provided a copy of this book by Moody Publishers for review.  All opinions are honest and my own.  The post contains affiliate links.  If you click through and make a purchase, I will receive a small percent at no additional cost to you.

Ordinary.

That is a very good description of how I have been feeling as of late. While I have been getting better at keeping a routine, I think we all know that the world will not end if I happen to do my kids’ laundry on Monday rather than mine and my husband’s.

There really is nothing earth shattering about teaching roman numerals to one kid, while reviewing for the umpteenth time multiplication facts with another.  These will not help save a kid from hunger tonight.

Dishes done before going to bed?  Fabulous…there are still people without jobs.

Fixed a broken dresser?  Helpful, yes.  Does that help someone who feels lost and depressed?  No.

It is very easy to go through the day’s activities, day after day after day after … one begins to feel like a gerbil on a wheel going nowhere very quickly.  Not only am I going nowhere, but do I really have anything to offer others?

In a world obsessed with superheroes and celebrities, Dan Stanford reveals how our extraordinary God works through ordinary people to accomplish the incredible.

Dan Stanford gets straight to the point in the introduction of his newly released book, Losing the Cape: The Power of Ordinary in a World of Superheroes  – “…as bad as the world is right now, we don’t need a superhero to come save the day.”  Wait, what?  Then why am I reading this book?  Thankfully, he continues, “…we need ordinary people like you and me to join God and go change the world right where we are.”

In the next 21 chapters Stanford goes on to give multiple example of people, in the Bible and the world today, who have accomplished great things, even when they were obviously lacking.  He also encourages us to focus on our sphere of influence, use what we have on hand, rely upon God and not our works, and to stop expecting works of great importance to look big and earth shattering – sometimes the biggest thing to someone may come in the form of a small, seemingly insignificant gesture.  To the person, however, it means the world.

While there are many biblical references, Losing the Cape: The Power of Ordinary in a World of Superheroes is a fairly casual, easy read.  It was not until a few chapters in that I began to get into the book.  That was the point where the author shared more of his background, what led him to where he is today, and more of how this has played out in his life.  I believe the story could have done with a bit fewer superhero analogies at the beginning.

In the middle section, I found myself underlining a fair amount and adding notes in the margins.  This was not due to finding formerly unknown concepts.  Instead, it was to help me get further into the content of the book.  It really did help encourage me to begin applying to concepts internally rather than superficially agreeing with them.

Several various parts are words of encouragement I could have used during particularly rough patches in my past.  Hearing someone say those things to me at those moments would have gone a long way towards reenergizing me to keeping going.

The ending section was a deeper conclusion, though it felt a bit rushed.  This part could have been expanded upon more and would have helped add to the application and encouragement in the reader’s life.  As it is, I believe taking time to think over what is read, rather than rushing through this last bit, will help the reader see more of how this can apply to their lives.

Changing the world doesn’t start with a cape and a catch phrase. Changing the world starts by allowing God to invade your world.

Following the last chapter are two additional sections – notes, arranged by chapters, and discussion questions.  Again, nothing supper long or heavy, but a chance to slow down and contemplate how what you have read may apply to your life and current circumstances.

While a lot of the book is talking about us as people, what we can do, how the world around us can benefit from what we have to offer, that is not the real focus and point.  In Chapter 19 Stanford makes a factual statement – our input was not needed when the world was created; people were being fed, clothed, and housed before we came along and will continue to be after we die; in a few generations we will most likely be forgotten.  Doesn’t sound too uplifting, does it?

Knowing all that, we were still uniquely created, born in a specific place at a specific time for a purpose.  Yes, it could all have been accomplished without us, but He chose to use us, to give us a purpose. How awesome is that!

Mar 202018
 

This post may contain affiliate links.  

The ultimate goal of this blog is to pass along information in hopes of inspiring your love of the out-of-doors or encouraging you to try something new.  If I can help save you from making some of the same mistakes I have, keep a few extra dollars in your pocket, help you grow personally, introduce you to a new book, or offer you some laughs, I think we could all call it a good day.

I will be the first to admit that I do not know everything there is to know about gardening or nature.  {gasp} Shocking, I know!  Alas, it is true.  Thankfully there are others who know more about this area or that, who have tried this method or the other, or whose goals are different than the ones I may prioritize.  Put together we form a pretty solid source of knowledge.

To add a bit more excitement to the mix, I have compiled a sampling of giveaways, contests, and free items available this month.

If you have a small space or are looking to simplify, I would encourage you to check out Three Dogs In A Garden’s review of The Less Is More Garden: Big Ideas for Designing Your Small Yard by Susan Morrison.  “Because this book will go to a winner through the mail, we will have to limit entry to readers in Canada and the USA.  The draw will remain open until Saturday, March 31st.”Stuck inside due to snow or rain?  Then this would be a great time to complete some crafts.  Sara, at My Impressions, shows how you can use the Simon Says Stamp April Card Kit: Beautiful Day!  She also has a set to give away.  A winner will be chosen March 26th!

AZ Plant Lady reviewed The Colorful Dry Garden over at Ramblings From A Desert Garden.  If you garden in the same sort of climate, this books looks to be a helpful one to add visual interest in a challenging environment.  She is also giving away a copy of this book on March 22, so head over to read the review and enter to get your own copy.

Pepper Joe has a variety of ways to receive or win free hot pepper seeds.

Mar 172018
 

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There are so many “National _____ Month” or “National ______ Day” or “Celebrate This Day” that it is hard to keep track of them all.  Honestly, at times I do well to remember my family’s birthdays.

You may then consider this your friendly neighborhood reminder – March 25th is Neighbor Day.  While you do not necessarily need a specially designated day to be a good neighbor, nor do you have to physically live right next to them to still consider them your neighbor (yes I am talking to you Neighbor-Lady-Who-Is-Still-Hibernating, “Hello”), a reminder does not hurt either.

Being a good neighbor is not the same as being a nosey neighbor.  How are they different?  Here are some examples:

  • Did you see that Bob was in the paper again?  Yup, got arrested.  Poor Betsy, what is she going to do now? tsk tsk Nosey Neighbor
  • Did you see that Bob was in the paper again?  I am going to take Betsy some diner and see if she might need someone to talk to. Good Neighbor
  • “There are those kids again, running around in the middle of the street.  Don’t they have better sense than that?  Their mother really needs to step up and parent those kids, being that it is just her after all…I wonder if she has found a job yet? Probably not.  I think I will run and take her this week’s classifieds, see if has heard from their father recently.”  Nosey Neighbor
  • “There are those kids again, running in the middle of the street.”  Goes outside and speaks to the kids, comes back inside for some apples and water, takes them out to the kids and plays on the stoop till mom comes back from work.  Finds out mom is currently working two jobs with no child support. Talks to mom about letting the kids play in her/his yard after school and possibly start on homework till she gets home.  Good Neighbor
  • Sees elementary aged kids running around outside with no adult supervision.  Sits on porch watching the kids for almost an hour with no adult in sight.  Calls police “out of concern”.  Nosey Neighbor
  • Sees elementary aged kids running around outside with no adult supervision.  Sits on porch watching the kids for almost an hour with no adult in sight. Goes and knocks on neighbor’s door.  Sees neighbor inside slowly get up from chair by window.  Once the door is open the cast on the foot is exceedingly obvious. Good Neighbor

While the line between Nosey Neighbor and Good Neighbor can be a fine one, most of us know the difference, if we are being honest with ourselves.

But what about those times when you are not sure how to help?  Or when the problem seems bigger than what solely one person is able to accomplish?  What can one person do in those situation?

A little over a year ago I reviewed Make It Zero: the movement to safeguard every child by Mary Frances Bowley.  Here is a bit of what I wrote at that time:

Make It Zero is not about children only.  It actually began by talking about adults, parents, and teenagers, not exactly who one thinks of when talking about the children in our society.  However, by the end of the second chapter I was starting to understand.  Safeguarding the children means giving them a good foundation.  That foundation is the parent/s in their lives.  If the parent is struggling, the children will struggle.”

This week, I am going to be giving one of you a chance to read this book for yourself.  Here is how it works:

  1. Leave a comment on another blog post.  It needs to be relevant to the topic of that post.  As cute as your Yorkie may be while trying to jump through snow, telling me that on a post about starting seeds is not the place. 🙂
  2. Come back here, leaving a comment telling me where you left your first comment. (The post title will be sufficient.) Please make sure you leave your email address somewhere, either in the comment or as part of your login.
  3. You will need to do this by midnight ET on Thursday, March 22, 2018.
  4. I will randomly select a comment and contact the winner.  You will have 24 hours to respond.

Open only to U.S. addresses.

Now, if you would like to share a picture of your Yorkie jumping through snow, I am not opposed to such.  Feel free to send me an email with a photo.  Who knows, it might just make it onto the blog for all to ooh and ahh over!

Mar 162018
 

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January has a reputation for being a recovery month.  Coming off several large holidays, one may find they are feeling a bit down, are having a rough time with cabin fever due to colder weather, or perhaps feeling overwhelmed by their goals for the upcoming year.  While January was, personally, an odd month, I did not find myself struggling through it.

My slump came during the last half of February and the beginning of March.

I suddenly felt like I was spinning my wheels in a spot of slick mud, not gaining ground yet exerting a lot of energy.  My actions were taking me this way and that without a clear direction.  Looking back I realized that I was heading in a direction, that it took working on a bit of this and that and trying different things to find the firmer ground.  Or so I hope.

My main focus so far this year has been on homemaking, personally following routines and habits to help me run our home better and feel a certain way.  While I want to have the kitchen picked up before bed, that does not mean I need to spend all my waking hours at the sink waiting for a dirty dish to appear.  Instead, I also can work on something else.  Some of the areas I have been tackling are:

  • finding a new rhythm for grocery shopping
  • trying a few new ways of saving money, and joining online groups to help in learning
  • sticking to a laundry routine
  • keeping the house picked up, or picking it up once at minimum
  • focusing on one main garden activity each month (compost tumbler, rain barrel, new flower bed)
  • finding a bedtime routine which works for everyone, and writing it down to post on the wall
  • participating  in one or two home school playgroups each week
  • offering to help others, in general being a friend who actually thinks about others and acts on it
  • having music playing throughout the day
  • clearing out unneeded items – donate to others, give away, recycle, reuse, or throw away
  • compare insurance quotes before renewing
  • encouraging kids to take along a book, instead of an electronic, when running quick-ish errands
  • make small changes in how I approach and plan our school week/month
  • begin to think about school over the summer, implement some of the routines now
  • send the kids outside to play, “and don’t come in till supper”

A lot of small things, which add up to a larger, hopefully positive, change in the feel of our home.  It is not perfect, far from it.  What it is is better.  I may spin my wheels more than I like, but I am heading in the right direction.

 My mother-in-law was also able to come for a week long visit.  Jack enjoyed having her here all day. She would chat online with her sisters in the morning, Jack sitting right beside her doing whatever it is Jack could get away with doing because “Grandma is here and we should not have school”.  Let’s just say that picking up his room was not high on his list of priorities.

We also took a few days to get away to a city we had never visited before.  While there was nothing wrong with the trip or the location, the timing was not the best.  It took us all a few days to identify what we had all been feeling, we just wanted to be home.  The last day we cut short possible plans and headed home, all sleeping better that night.

The next few weeks might see my husband traveling some.  Or perhaps not.  It is all up in the air.

What I have decided to do is set a goal for myself and tell you all what I plan to accomplish.  When I did this a few years ago I was amazed at how much I was able to accomplish.  Not only then, but in the time following.  Momentum begets momentum.  I have been lacking momentum as of late and am starting to feel like I will never get unstuck from where I am.

While I am not ready to share it all right now, it will be coming soon.  As in the next week or two soon.  If I delay too long I wouldn’t be surprised if a few seasons pass before I gain motivation again.  🙂

Something I have been working on a bit each day, which has paid for my compost tumbler and rain barrel, is Swagbucks.  This is another area I have been trying out a few new things, as well as joining an online group in hopes of increased learning and earning.  So far it has worked well, though I did ease up a bit this past week as my focus needed to be elsewhere during those early morning hours.

Every little bit helps

Want some extra boost for your budget this month?

If you haven’t tried Swagbucks before, you can get a bonus $3 for signing up as my referral in March. Swagbucks is a rewards site where you earn points (called SB) for things you’re probably doing online already, like searching, watching videos, discovering deals, and taking surveys. Then you take those points and exchange them for gift cards to places like Amazon, Starbucks, Walmart, Target, or PayPal cash.

When you sign up through me, you can earn an additional $3 bonus! Here’s how:

1. Sign up using this link

2. Earn 300 SB total before 4/1/18. You’ll get a $3 (300 SB) bonus for it!

3. If you want even more bonuses, you’ll get a $10 (1000 SB rebate) bonus for making your first shop purchase! That’s in addition to the SB you earn for every dollar you spend.

My earnings for this month are a bit shy of 1,200 points called SB.  That is equivalent to $12.  This time around I am working toward reducing the cost of building a flower bed and purchasing seeds.  While my costs may not be covered completely, every little bit helps.

The same goes for compost – “every little bit helps.”  This is how I was able to turn shredded documents, coffee ground, kitchen scraps, and other compostable items into something that resembled black gold.  No one part was large, often I doubted if I was even making a difference.  As I added the not yet fully composted mix on top of cardboard for a new flower bed, I no longer had my doubts – I was thrilled with “free” organic matter to utilize.

What are you working toward currently?  Do you have a plan to accomplish it?  A timeline?

Mar 152018
 

Last October I shared this video with the intent of increasing garden knowledge for those who like to tuck such facts away for when they will be useful.

For the rest of us, here is the video at a time which may be more appropriate to your gardening preparations.

Do you grow onions?  What is your preferred type?

 

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Feb 272018
 

I was provided a copy of this book by Moody Publishers for review.  All opinions are honest and my own. This post may contain affiliate links.

My latest read took me much longer to finish than normal.  This was to be expected as I had to read each page two or three times, as well as look up various terms and references.  To say it was a growing experience would be a very fair statement.  It was outside topics I normally would read, that seems to have been a theme this past year, which is ripe ground for personal growth.

My initial plan had been to read it and share a review in time for the 500 year anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, the time marked by the date when Luther, according to legend, nailed his ninety-five theses to the doors of the local church.  The anniversary seemed to be all anyone was talking about for months.  Me, the one who does not watch the news, who is known for not really knowing the “hot topic” at the moment, even knew the anniversary was coming up.  “There must be something to this.”

See, I grew up in a church where Luther was not talked about much.  Actually church history was not talked about regularly. If so, it was ‘recent’ church history going back to early American times. I grew up in a church tradition which was not liturgical, did not recite confessions, etc.  Focusing on a particular person or historical church documents during a sermon seemed almost like looking to them instead of the Bible/God/Jesus for direction in how we should live.

Perhaps that is solely a feeling I had and not what was meant to be conveyed, but it is exactly what I was feeling when the church we currently attend would mention Martin Luther or such-and-such convention from centuries ago.  It rubbed me the wrong way.  Then they mentioned they would be showing a video about the life of Luther on a certain evening, everyone was welcome to come and invite friends. That was the final straw.

A new religion or a return to the old ways?

My respect for those in our current church led me to examine myself, my reactions, and to seek out more information.  Enter Long Before Luther by Nathan Busenitz.  I am so glad I challenged myself to learn before continuing along certain lines of opinion without much of a basis.  While I did not do a complete 180*, I did learn a lot about how we ended up where we are currently.

The start of Long Before Luther came from an online discussion Busenitz had in the comment section of a blog, about whether the Catholic church was the original, true church.  The conversation brought to light an important question, “Did Luther (and other reformers) create a new religion or did these doctrines always exist? Could they be found in the early church beliefs or were they invented 500 years ago?”  In the end, the comments on the blog would have created a 300 page, single space document if they had been printed out.  Seems it was quite the discussion.

To help have an actual conversation, the conversation was narrowed down to two points of contention: is scripture alone the highest authority (sola Scriptura) and are sinners justified through God’s grace in “faith alone” in Jesus Christ (sola fide)?

Busenitz has broken his book down into 4 parts – Reformers and Justification, The Church before Augustine, Augustine and Justification, and The Church after Augustine.  These section help set the stage for what the reformers were trying to figure out, and some of the key disagreements they were having with the Church at that time.  The author then goes back to early church fathers to get try and get a clearer picture of their understanding and thinking.

If this article stands, the church stands; if this article collapses, the church collapses. – Martin Luther

My natural tendency is not to sparse words, but to take things at their face value.  However, when discussing large, heavy concepts like justification and spiritual authority one needs to be very clear in what is meant and said.  The difference of a single word can change the whole meaning of a sentence.  Busenitz dove into historical writings, searching for evidence of sola Scriptura and sola fide.  The last three sections talk about the evidence he found.

There are also places where Busenitz commented on the limiting factors of language.  If you have ever heard that Eskimo language has many words for snow while English has one, you will understand what is meant.  Latin and Hebrew are more descriptive languages.  If a translation was used and studied from, the original intent of a word may have been a bit blurred or misunderstood.  This is very much true with English, as with Greek or German, etc.

It may have also been the case that these particular issues were not issue in the past, so therefore were not outlined in great detail.  Some things may have been socially assumed to be understood, while others were not issues raised.  This last part was an interesting revelation on my part – the things society is concerned about today were not even issues a few decades ago; how much more a few thousand years ago!  Hence, you will not find full manuscripts describing the historical stance of sola Scriptura and sola fide from the early A.D. era.

What you will find are documents from sources written during those time which give you has sense of what was meant, touching on both of these topics, showing that the reformers 500 years ago did not create these doctrines but brought them to the forefront of the conversation. These doctrines were suddenly more relevant due to what was happening socially, and within the church, at that time.

Following the four sections of the book mentioned above, is an Apprenix section – 9 pages of abbreviations used, as well as 41 pages of notes and references used in writing Long Before Luther.  Busenitz was not hesitant to share where he got his references and facts, they are there for readers to seek out and read for themselves.

Continue to seek to understand

I still believe we should look solely to the Bible for guidance, seems I believed in sola Scriptura all along without knowing there was a word or term for it.  As I worked my way through Long Before Luther, I began understand more about why we do certain things or exactly how we believe effects how we approach other issues.  Having a clear picture of what is meant is important, and for that I am thankful for those whose brains can work through those details with any sort of clarity.  I will continue to seek to understand what is being said, knowing all along that we will never truly understand everything, we can only do our best to try.

Long Before Luther by Nathan Busenitz has sought to help clarify some key points brought up during the Protestant Reformation, taking what would have been years of research for the average person and putting it together in a well structured book.  Using a multitude of references and historical documents he sought to find if there was a  and biblical basis for beliefs presented by the reformers, or if they had created a new set of beliefs.  To that end, I believe Busenitz achieved the purpose he sought and conveyed clearly the points and support along the way.

Feb 222018
 

I was compensated for this post. This post also contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

When I first heard that Easter was on April 1st, I thought for sure someone was trying to pull an early April Fool’s joke.  Turns out I was wrong and they were right – Easter is on April 1st this year!

As if to continue the odd joke, it is the middle of February and our weather currently feels like spring.  Never before have I felt so far behind so early.  Goodness Golly, it is the middle of February!  While it is a warmer winter/spring than what is normal, and we may still get a freeze, it is a good reminder that Spring is on our doorstep.

I have been doing better at getting ahead of things this year.  While the pre-planning for Valentines Day this year did not happen as I had hoped it would, I did hit the after-holiday sales and am set for next year’s gifts, treat bags, and cards all at 50-75% off!!!

To keep the ball rolling, I decided to tackle a few other ideas and get a step up on Easter decorating.  We are not huge Easter Bunny fans, so no Easter Egg Trees like I had growing up.  Instead our decorations will focus on the Christian aspect of the Easter celebration – Jesus’ crucifixion (Good Friday) and resurrection  from the tomb (Easter).

The decorations this year will fulfill two roles – a garden craft and an update of a front door wreath that really should have been tackled a few years back. Looking to keep our budget small and incorporate several items we already had, I made my plans then loaded up the kids and headed to the local Dollar Tree.

The Front Door Wreath

When we were moving a year ago, there were items I had to decide whether to take or pass along.  This wreath was one items that I hemmed and hawed about for a few minutes.  It was an item I had picked up second hand years ago. By this point in its life, the accessories has seen better days – they were looking faded, dusty, and fairly droopy.  However, the wreath itself was in good shape, a nice big twig wreath.  So, it made the move with the intent to update it once we were here.

When I decided to add a seasonally themed wreath to the door, this sorely outdated wreath came to mind, “If I take off the current accessories and add new ones, the whole wreath will look brand new.”  That is just what I did.

After a quick stop at the Dollar Tree, I found a sign to use.  It was large enough not to get lost from a distance and simple enough to read as one goes my the house.  I then chose flowers along a complimentary color scheme.  Too many colors would have made it look busy and lacking.

Then the hard messy part began – clearing off all the old accessories (ivy, fake flowers, ribbons, etc.).

The ribbons were fairly easy to remove, as they were stuck in between the sticks of the wreath with short metal spikes.  The greenery, however, was harder.  The flowers were hot glued on and the ivy was tied on with small bits of wire.  A little muscle and an old pair of scissors made short work of getting down to the base.

I could now see what I had to work with, thankful I did not throw this out last year.

To make the most of the two flower bunches I had, I removed each flower stem from the group.  There is wire in the middle of each plastic stem, though not too thick so a pair of scissors and slow firm clips easily separated them.  Now I could mix them up and weave them in place as I wished.

I tried a few ways of arranging the flowers before choosing one method.  A ribbon was even added at one point, so see if something further was needed.  By taking pictures, I was easily able to compare various looks and see the overall effect from further away. (These photos were taken with utility in mind, not aesthetics for posting online.)

After looking, and asking opinions, I decided to nix the ribbon and keep it simple.  If the ribbon had been wire trimmed then perhaps it would have worked.  As it was, this was a bit of very floppy ribbon from my craft supplies and was not laying right.

I think the over all reinvention of this wreath was a success.  I love how it goes with the color of my door and has a fresh clean look to it.  All for only $3! Easter At Dollar Tree – Everything Is Just $1

note: I am aware it is hanging crooked and it is driving me crazy.  I tried to fix it at that time, but had to head inside to make supper.  I did straighten it some this morning, but need to go back out and do a better job of getting it all hanging correctly.  Right now I am happy to have it hanging and not still sitting in the attic and on my to-do list.

Resurrection Garden

While at the Dollar Tree getting supplies for the wreath above, I also picked up a few supplies I needed to finish making a resurrection garden.  This is an idea I saw online and thought would be a great reminder to have at home, to bring our thinking back to what we are celebrating. Contrary to what the kids may think, the main focus of Easter (for us) is not eating chocolate Easter bunnies and finding brightly colored eggs around the yard.  Sorry, kids.

I already had an extra pot, but needed to pick up: soil, a small clay pot, stones, and grass seed.  3 of those 4 things were to be found at the Dollar Tree.  A few dollars more were spent on a small bag of seed from a big box store nearby.

 

The supplies for this project included:

*I have yet to acquire these items, but am on the look out for them.

The time to put this together was less than 5 minutes, though it will take several days for the grass to sprout and begin growing.

First, due to the depth of my pot, I added soil to the bottom.  Not wanting to have to cut a pot in half, as I had seen other tutorials do, I turned the pot on its side and partially buried it in the soil.

I then covered the back of the clay pot and the back half of the larger pot with extra soil, making a mound.

The smaller clay pot is set off-center, allowing me to make a trail out of the pebbles leading up the mound. Once I find some small sticks I will add 3 crosses to the top of the ‘hill’.

Lastly, I sprinkled grass seed on the soil and moistened it with a spray bottle.  Each day I will moisten it again and should see grass appearing in about a week’s time.

This will make a great visual aid in telling the Easter story, as well as a reminder of why we are celebrating the season.

There you have it, two fairly quick, budget-friendly Easter decorations for your garden.  This last one would be especially great to bring some green to your home if you are in the midst of a dreary winter and are antsy for something to grow.

What are some of the ways you are decorating this year?  Share in the comments below, I would love to hear about or see what you have been working on.

 

Feb 142018
 

Whether it is you and your Super Hero celebrating this day together, or if you are showing your appreciation for others, I hope your days holds lots of sweetness.

If it doesn’t, here is a great recipe – rated two thumbs up by in-house experts, Jack and George:

  • Heat up a cup of milk.
  • Add a packet of hot cocoa mix of choice.
  • Top with whipped topping.
  • Garnish with left over sprinkles or bits of chocolate from your pantry.

If you happen to dilly-dally a bit too long, arguing that you do not want to finish your supper because you are “too full”, then see what your brother is getting and decide to get a move-on…well, you might just miss out on the whipped topping.  In such a case, adding extra bit of chocolate to your hot cocoa and sprinkles on top will work as well.  FYI: the chocolate of the xoxo variety tends to not melt unless stirred; it also sinks. This can mean another yummy surprise at the end, just when you thought your were done.

Personally, I like to think I am more of a smooth dark chocolate with a hint of almond flavor.  How about you?

 

On a more serious note, in case no one has had the opportunity yet to tell you, let me just say:

You are appreciated, loved, a friend, and a welcome addition to my life.  You have a purpose, and are a blessing to those around you.

If you are not feeling this way, I encourage you to look for someone to help today, someone to smile at, someone to spend some time having a conversation with.  If you are not sure where to start, might I suggest the cashier at the local grocery store or someone at the nursing home.  Simple actions can mean a lot in the lives of someone else.

If you are in a lonelier place please give these people a call.  They are there to help, not judge.  There is animosity in these calls, yet they connect you with others who truly care about you.  Unsure of what to ask or talk about, here are a few questions to get you started.  It may feel strange to take that first step, to ask for help, but it is a good path to start back traveling. You are worth it!