Monday, September 3, 2012

Healthy Changes- The Practical Side

When we decided to change our diet by eliminating meat and dairy and eating healthy, plant based foods, my first thought was, "This is going to blow our budget and take FOREVER to learn how to cook this way!"  (Click here to read more about our diet change.) However, I am so glad to say that I was wrong. Shopping for our meals and learning to cook with beans and veggies was challenging at first, but it didn't take long at all to find many foods that we love and that I can easily prepare.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Healthy Changes

Believe it or not, this blog is still active! "Missing In Action," has definitely been my status lately, but I am still here and I do still intend to write. It's hard to believe that I haven't written anything since the spring, but summer has been active and (crazy as it seems) even busier than last winter!  I'm back now and excited to share some of what I have been learning these last few months!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Thrifty Tip #3 - Vinegar - Super Cleaner!

   Continuing with the, "Thrifty Theme," I wanted to share with you my very favorite homemade cleaning supply, White Vinegar!
 There are so many reasons that I enjoy using natural cleaners like vinegar... one of them being, of course, it saves money and time by using ingredients that are simple, affordable and easy to find in the grocery store!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thrifty Tip # 2 - Homade Fabric Softener

   Are you ready to cut back on your expenses a little more today? As I shared in my last post on making homemade laundry soap, I have been learning how to save money through making my own household cleaning products. There are a LOT of really neat ideas out there, some are revolutionary and some.... I  could live without. For example, there was the time I tried washing my hair with only vinegar and baking soda for a week... OUCH! My dry skin was burning and my long hair always faintly smelled of vinegar. I was willing to try something new, but good shampoo is one thing I will be spending a little more money on in the future. However, I've tested many other homemade concoctions on my unsuspecting family and loved most of them! I promise to only share the best with you!
   My favorite thrifty tip for today is: homemade fabric softener. I found this idea at the Frugal Girls web page and really loved it! This fabric softener requires only three ingredients, smells good, costs very little to make, is gentle on your clothes and does a great job eliminating static! Ready to try it out?

Thrifty Tip # 2- Homemade Fabric Softener

What you will need:

  • 6 cups of HOT water
  • 3 cups of White Vinegar
  • 2 cups or one 15 oz. bottle of Suave Conditioner (whatever scent you love)
  • An empty container for storage. Mine was an old fabric softener container.
  • A funnel to easily poor the fabric softener into a container.

                  First: Heat six cups of water in a pot until boiling

                  Second: Add the conditioner and vinegar to the hot water.

                   Third: Stir until the conditioner is completely dissolved.

                                  Fourth: Funnel into a container with a lid.

Last but not least, use two tablespoons of fabric softener per load of laundry and enjoy!
   As I said before, this project couldn't be any easier and the best part is that it works just as well as any name brand fabric softener but costs so much less!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Thrifty Tip #1 - Homemade Laundry Soap

Do you want to save money? Are you open to exploring possibilities that are a little out of the ordinary but lead to a simple, thrifty lifestyle? I am! My husband is a full time seminary student and I am a stay at home mom, so it has become necessary for my family to implement a  tight budget and try to find ways to cut costs. I'm finding that saving money doesn't  necessarily mean that I'm putting half of our income into a savings account every month or investing in stocks and bonds, it can be as simple as buying off brand products verses name brand. Cutting back in simple things like cost of groceries, toiletries and cleaning supplies can greatly reduce your monthly expenses. Through Internet research and  valuable friends that also are trying to cut down on their living expenses, I'm finding that I can save quite a bit of money by making products that I would normally buy or finding a way to live without overpriced "household essentials." Discovering a new way of doing things in a simpler, more cost effective way has become an exciting challenge for me. There are countless ways to shave a little off your monthly budget, I'm just beginning to learn all their is to living thrifty! Over the next few months I will take some time to share some of my personal, "Thrifty Tips," with you. Hopefully you will find something that works for your family and helps you to save as well! I will begin by sharing how to make homemade cleaning products such as: laundry soap, fabric softener, soft scrub, 409 cleaner, kitchen cleaner...etc.

Homemade Laundry Soap

    Today I thought I would share how I make the most popular of homemade cleaning products, laundry soap. I love making homemade laundry soap because it's easy to make, smells great, works well,  lasts forever and costs next to nothing to make! Because it is also a gentle soap I was able to use it on my son's clothes when he was a new born and saved money by not buying the expensive laundry soap for babies. A two gallon batch of laundry soap will last my family of three about three months and the ingredients, one box of Borax and Arm and Hammer Washing Soda, lasted me TWO YEARS! In case you were wondering... Yes, I do wash my clothes on a regular basis, it just doesn't take much soap to do a load of laundry so it lasts a long time! Ready to learn how to make my favorite laundry soap? Here we go!

What you will need:

1. 1/2 Cup of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda-(cost is around $2.50 per box)
2. 1/2 Cup of Borax- (cost is around $4.00 a box)
3. 1/2 Cup of Fels-Naptha- (cost is around $.90 per bar)
4. 2 one gallon containers for storage. (I use two large gallon water jugs that  I found at Wal-Mart for $2.00 each.)
5. Two gallons of boiling water. 
6. A funnel

Ingredients needed for laundry soap
 First: Bring two gallons of water to a boil. Be sure to turn the heat down to medium when you add the soap or it will boil over.

 Second: Grate or chop up the bar of Fels-Naptha. I chopped my bar of soap because my grater doesn't do a very good job with this soap.

This is what the soap looked like when I was done, but I would recommend chopping it finer than this so that It doesn't take too long to melt in the hot water.


Third: Pour 1/4 cup of Arm and Hammer Washing Soda, 1/4 cup of Borax and 1/4 cup of Fels-Naptha into each once gallon pot of water. On medium heat, allow the mixture to melt until it is completely liquefied. 

 Fourth: Funnel your cooled off laundry soap into each one gallon container.

The finished product!

Fifth: Use 1/2 cup of soap per load of laundry.

Note: As the soap sits it may separate a little, as you can see in this picture. This is perfectly fine and happens if a little too much Fels-Naptha is added. All you have to do is shake the jug before you use the soap. It might look a little funny, but it will still work great.

Voila! Now it's time for you to try! I hope you have fun discovering thrifty tips to save money for your home!
God bless!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

A Better Time

   I wanted to share something that I believe God has been impressing upon my heart a LOT lately, and that is time management. Not just how I manage my time, but how I am using it to bring glory and honor to the one who created it. For me, it is not hard to fill every second of the day with things to do and places to go. In fact, over the past few months this, "stay at home mom," found herself so busy with, "important things," that she had almost no time for her little boy or husband. I had very little time for  planning and preparing healthy meals for my family or even for personal devotions. By Christmas I felt out of breath and worn out. It was time to do an evaluation and start asking God what He wanted from my life and more specifically my daily hours.
   My first priority is my relationship with God and that relationship was feeling strained and weak due to a lack of Bible study and prayer. I knew that I would need to wake up very early to have a quiet time of Bible study before my mommy duties began. I am, by nature, a night owl, and my son is a very early riser, so committing to wake up at 5:30 to beat him out of bed sounded crazy and torturous!  I just don't like mornings. After days and weeks of missing out on a quiet time because I slept through the only peaceful moments of my day, I was feeling frazzled and cranky to say the least. After much prodding from the Holy Spirit and several discouraging days I was finally willing to change my sleepy headed ways. This alteration in my schedule has breathed new life into my days! Spending a sufficient amount of time in God's word reminded me that when I felt frustrated or discouraged that my struggle was not with people or circumstances but that I was walking through a spiritual battle and I needed to be prepared. Ephesians 6:11-12 says, "Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." How could I expect to make it through a battle if I wasn't prepared? I've learned this lesson the hard way and I'm not going to be unprepared any more. Hold me to it! This girl is going to be putting on her spiritual armor every morning, tired or not. I also recently joined a women's Bible study that has provided me with the encouragement and accountability that I needed. I also really love the daily homework that it provides. The study group is called Bible Study Fellowship or B.S.F. and I highly recommend it! It is very Biblically sound and the material really challenges you to examine the Scriptures and apply them to your life. B.S.F  has been around for more than 50 years and has Bible study groups around the world. To find a study near you or to learn more about B.S.F. click here
   The second priority in my life is my family. After my, "time evaluation," I could really see that  the person that was hurting the most from my busyness was my two-and-a-half year old son. I'm a stay at home mom, so the problem wasn't that I was gone too much, but that as I whirled around the house and dashed to and from errands, my little guy was just being dragged along. The original reason that I decided to be a stay at home mommy was so that I would be the primary person in my child's life and that I could spend all the time necessary to teach and love my little one, guiding him to one day love and obey the same God that I serve. However, after snapping at my son for the tenth time in one day because he was whining or making a mess, major conviction set in. Rather than he being my priority, the poor little guy had been pushed to the back burner, and was reaping the undeserved wrath of a worn out mom with too much to do. All of my little goals had crowded out the most important job I have--raising my son. After feeling like the worst mom ever and praying that God would show me where I went wrong, I really believe that He showed me that my problem could be corrected if I weeded out a few unnecessary projects and actually made a schedule for the time that I have with my son. I know, the word schedule sounds a little formal or rigid, but really all I did was sit down and think through my day and how I could best use it to teach and love on my little one. For example, Monday, 7:00 AM: Snuggle time. 8:00 AM: Review ABC flash cards. 8:30 AM: Work on color page.... etc. I also decided that Friday is his day. Unless I have an unavoidable appointment, I will be spending the day working on crafts, coloring pictures, playing outside or just hanging out with my miniature man. Because I scheduled intentional time with him, I didn't have to feel bad when I gave him 30 minutes to play alone in his room, while I got necessary work done.  Now, I had specific  times to be with my son and focus on him, and specific times to work. Changing how I spend my time has been exactly what I needed. If anything, it has helped me to be slow down, be purposeful in how I interact with my son and focus on priorities.
Showing off one of his Friday crafts.
     Honestly, when I was feeling down and frustrated I really felt like such a bad mom, wife and daughter of Christ. However, just when I needed it most, God lovingly directed me to these verses in Proverbs 3:11-12.  
"My son, do not despise the LORD's discipline 
or be weary of his reproof,  
for the LORD reproves him whom he loves
as a father the son in whom he delights." 

 Since I really believe that God meant for me to apply this verse to my life, I think it's safe to place my name in this verse and say,
"Joy, do not despise that Lord's discipline 
or be weary of his reproof, 
for the Lord reproves she whom he loves, 
as a father the daughter in whom he delights."

    Praise God for His patience with me! This girl still has a lot to learn, but I'm so glad that when I learn hard lessons like these, that I can trust that they come from my Heavenly Father who loves me more than anyone and really just wants the very best for my life. 
    Tell me, has God taught you anything regarding honoring Him with your time? Do you have some time management tips? I'd love to hear! May God bless your day as you follow Him!
 "So teach us to number our days
   that we may get a heart of wisdom." 
Psalm 90:12