Monday, June 22, 2015

Stitch Fix for June - Taking Care of Mom

I'd been hearing about Stitch Fix for a while and was interested in trying it out.  Then I saw a friend of mine wearing a darling outfit; when I complemented her on it she mentioned using Stitch Fix.  I mentioned it to Rob and he thought it was a great idea.  That was early in May.  While we were in the process of buying a house and moving.  This month I got my belated Mother's Day gift in the form of my first "fix."

When it arrived Miss E was excited to find out what would be in the box too.  It was fun to open it up with her.  Just the experience of opening the box and seeing how pretty everything was was great.

Almost everything in the box appealed to me, and it all fit.  I had so much fun trying it all on.

I loved that the stylist listened to my input and requests, but also stretched me a bit.  You know that feeling when you get a gift that you LOVE but wouldn't have picked for yourself?  Yea, that was the feeling I had.

While I did like most of the items in my shipment I didn't LOVE them all.  I ended up keeping the 2 great tops and sending the other 3 items back.  Part of what makes this service so great is how easy it was to return what I didn't want.  I just tossed it into the (included and pre-labeled) envelope and put it in my mailbox!

This is a great service for anyone that would like help with their wardrobe or does not want to have to take time to shop for new pieces for their wardrobe.  I knew I wanted a couple more items but REALLY did not want to have to take the time to look for what I wanted either by going out or shopping on line.  This was the perfect solution for me.  No, it's not something I'll do all the time.  The items are not bargain prices, but I did like that I could give them a price range that I was comfortable with.

Next month it's my birthday.  I'm looking forward to another Stitch Fix as another fun gift.

I've included links to Stitch Fix in this post.  While this is not a sponsored post, I do get referral credit if you follow my links, sign up AND receive a "fix."  The opinions are my own that I would have posted anyways...the referral links are a bonus. ;)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

A new house....a gift from God.....

Those tiny house posts?  Sorry, God had other plans and I'll not be finishing that series....

When we moved back to Colorado we moved back into the house we purchased last time we lived here (we rented it out while we were gone).  It was the house we had purchased when we had four kids, and we were done having kids.  Ha! Ha!  Yea, 9 years and 4 MORE kids later it was a bit small.  We were praying, saving and waiting.  We really thought we would be waiting 3 more years in this house.  3 more years active duty Air Force.  3 more years to save so that we could afford the house we were wanting.  3 more years to pray for God's direction.  3 more years being content in the "too small house."
The old house

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.  Proverbs 3:5-6

By December we had gotten back in contact with our realtors.  We were interested in purchasing an investment property, but were not opposed to looking at houses for our family as well.  We looked at several houses, some in each category.  None were right, but the "family" houses we looked at really helped us figure out what we were and were NOT looking for when the time came to buy our "20 year house."   God was working in our hearts in so many ways through so many people and circumstances.   

Then I saw this house on zillow.  It looked great, but I didn't think the land was what Rob wanted.  A few days later he sent me a link to this house.  What did I think?  We looked at the pictures and talked.  There were a couple other homes that interested us as well.  We couldn't look at any of them for another week though.  Science Olympiad was happening in the next week.

We made plans to look at 4 houses.  3 one day and 1 the next.  The first house was nice, but both the house and land were NOT "ours."  We headed on over to that big blue house.  There was trouble getting the key out of the lock box.  We all went to look around the land while our realtors (whom we've known for 9 years) worked on that.  By the time I got back to the door they had already been in and came out saying "this is your house!"  Rob was nowhere in sight.  He was still looking around at the land....



I silently looked through the house.  It puzzled me.  WHO builds a house like this?  It looked like they only had 2 children, but the house was made for a LARGE family.  _I_ would have built this house.....but, what did Rob think?  I kept quiet knowing that he had to know I loved the house.  Sure enough he started asking about making offers etc.

Just to be sure we went on to the next house.  The land was nice, but the house was NOT for us and much farther out than we wanted to live.  The next day we had plans to look at 1 more house.  Most of the kids opted to stay home, they knew it wasn't ours. ;)  We were just going to make sure there were no "what ifs" in the back of our minds.

Those questions I had about WHO would build a house like this?  Yea, a family that adopted 11 children builds a house like this!  They lived here 20 years.  Those 2 littles still in the home?  The grandchildren. :)  This house was built for us long before we knew to start praying for it.  God is good!  There are so many big and small prayers that were answered through this house.  Prayers that were spoken and shared, silent prayers and even those that were just hidden away in my heart.  Some answered in the loud "THIS IS YOUR HOUSE" way, and others in the whispered "I care about even this" sort of way.
We MAY have been at the house for a whole 15 minutes before Mr. M got the lawn mower going.

When we got into the house even the "baby" Miss A seemed to know it was "home" even without any of our stuff in it.  We've been enjoying the space and great floor plan as we've been moving in this past month.

For those that are wondering... We can't know what God has planned in the future, but unless He says otherwise we do intend to settle here.  

Monday, May 4, 2015

Living Room- tiny house for a large family series

Last week I posted about our Entry.  The natural flow would be to move on to the living room, so we will.  This space was one I really had to think about.  We don't have a lot of wiggle room here, but it does work nicely for us.  As you enter the living room the bookshelves are on your left.  Our family loves to read, so these are very important.  I was strategic in the placement of the books though.  The "prettier" ones are out here.  These shelves also display some special pictures and items.  Each one has a special reason for being there.  There had been a keyboard in the middle there, but it was not getting much (if any) use so it is being stored in a closet.  My rocker/recliner gets a lot of use, we call it "the cuddle chair."

Can you see the bin on the lower left side?  It contains Baby playmobil toys.  This allows babies/toddlers easily access some toys in this room.

In the corner, we have a set of Waltzing Hammers (by my Dad, who passed away suddenly nearly 3 years ago).  The hammers give my kids a connection to their grandpa, and I just love having a piece of him here with us. The fireplace up here does not get used much for it's intended purpose.  We tend to store library books here, and there are cushions for extra seating.

This corner over here looks a bit cramped, but it has a purpose.  The little book shelf holds little kid books and toys.  The ottoman holds a queen size sheet that holds all of our legos on one side; the other side holds some sensory toys. The end table holds our projector in the lower compartment; the open compartment holds our current family reading books.  The ottoman is at this angled position partly because it just fits that way, but it also creates a play area for baby.  This corner is actually a playpen!  Until, of course, she learned to climb out. ;)

The sectional seems to be self explanatory, but I will say that we got it because we needed the extra seating.  We spend so much time in this room.  Together.  Usually reading.  This is an important piece of furniture for our family.  The coffee table is a chest that holds photo albums.  The back cubby holds some special books and pieces of art.  Out of sight in that corner is all of our extra pillows and cuddle blankets.  On the end we have the piano bench.  It gets used as an end table, or extra seating at the dining room table, OR even as a piano bench should we ever pull our keyboard out.

*Above the window we have a screen mounted.  It really takes up very little space but works out wonderfully for family movie nights.



Monday, April 27, 2015

Entry- tiny home for a large family series

I've done a couple of things with our entry to make it work for us.  It is tiny.  Imagine 10 people trying to get in and out in this small space....

Or trying to get coats, hats and mittens on right here.

Yea, that's just not gonna happen.  ;)

Here's what I've done....
We try to keep the area by the door clear.  There are a few things to note here though.  There is a small mirror, and under it we hang the keys.  On the other side of/behind the door is the "take me" bag.  This is where we are supposed to toss anything that needs to leave our home (within reasonable size), this would include returns to stores, items left here by friends, things we are loaning or returning to a friend...you get the idea.  We also hung some hooks that we use for "grown up" coats etc.  In the corner of the picture (going down the stairs) you can see our large wall map.... It is supposed to be used to mark the countries we're praying for from the Voice of the Martyrs calendar (we're having a hard time getting back into that habit).

Up the stairs from the entry (we have a split level) is the main coat closet.  This one is for the girls as well as Mommy and Daddy.  I'll start at the bottom and work my way up in explaining the set up.  First we have a "bench" with three cubes labeled with their content.  We left enough space on the sides for a couple of bags we knew would need to go there.  Behind the bench is where we place our Large Utility Totes and Deluxe Utility Totes when not in use.  On the bench you will usually find our church bags; these are kept packed and ready to go which can be helpful in the cases of a busy week or even an emergency.  Moving up...We have hooks for little kid hoodies/coats.  They can't reach the hangers, this makes it easier for them to find what they need.  The higher hooks on the side hold miscellaneous items.  The rod is for hanging coats; generally there are none here; this space is just for guests.  On the shelf we have some "on-the-go" supplies (to go tissues, wipes, bibs, lotion, hand sanitizer....) and the other bin for miscellaneous/out of season storage, the thermal is used for our water bottles when out and about.  You'll notice that we removed the folding/sliding doors that had been here.  We replaced them with a pretty shower curtain and rod.  It slides easily and hides the mess nicely.

Down the stairs from the entry is where you will find the boy's coat closet. It's not as pretty. The hooks are for coats/hoodies.  The shelf holds hats and gloves.  As you can see; I'm not using this space to its full potential, I need to do some more cleaning out and organizing.  I also need to use this space better.   Since this is our "under stair" storage space, it goes way back.  I store most of our holiday decor back here as well as some seasonal school stuff.

What makes this set up work for us?  Only half of us are getting ready to go in each area so we're not as crowded as if I had everyone keep their coats etc in one spot.  Everything we generally need for "on the go" is kept in these areas making it easy to find what we need quickly as we're headed out.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Tiny home for a large family!

We moved last summer.  Back into the house we bought 8 years ago when we had 4 kids. I knew going into this home that it was a bit smaller than our last home, but it is working well for us.  Then I started doing some research.  Have you heard of Tiny Homes?  While our home is not what you would think of as a "tiny home" when you look at our square footage per person....it fits into that category. :)

I'm preparing a series of posts about how I've organized our home.  I thought I'd share some information I found when looking up the average square footage of a home these days.

The average new home is about 2,600 square feet.  The average household consists of 2.54 people.  The average square footage per person is 980.7

Our home is 1,800 square feet.  We have 10 people in our family. We have about 180 square feet per person.  Hmm...

While it does take some thought and planning, and we do have to be careful about how much we bring into our home; it works for us.  We are happy in this home.  It keeps us together as a family, and makes us think about how we want to use our space.  We spend less time cleaning, because there is less to clean.  In the coming weeks I hope to show you, room by room, how I make this house work for us.  Hopefully it will be an encouragement to you and help spark some ideas of your own for your home.

*While we ARE happy in this house and are making it work; we do intend to purchase a larger house some time in the next few years; God willing.  We are saving, living out our last years as an active duty military family, finding joy and contentment in the home we've been blessed with, and waiting on God's direction before that happens.

Monday, April 13, 2015

I'm back! Spring cleaning and gardening!

Spring cleaning and gardening is what we are up to these days, and we're loving it.  It's been quite a while since I've blogged here.  Moving a large family takes a lot out of a mama and some things have to go.  Taking a break from this blog was one of those things.  Hopefully I'm back for a while.  If you want to see what the family has been up to you can check out my family blog Gabe's Babes.

Now that we're well settled and have been in the house for about a year the house is needing a good cleaning and some re-organizing.  As we go I'm planning to take some pictures and give you a tour of our little house.  My goal in that is to encourage you to use the space you have to it's full potential and to get your creative (and maybe cleaning out?) juices flowing.  Large families do not need HUGE houses; just some creativity and contentment.

We're all enjoying working in the yard/garden.  While we'd love to have more land some day we're very thankful that God has blessed us with a good sized yard in town.  We're learning and trying to make best use of the space we've been given.  Maybe we'll even get to eat some fruits of our labors?
The first signs on new spring growth in my containers!  Spring (or the last danger of frost) happens late in Colorado.

Friday, June 20, 2014

nut granola (nutola)- cooking for a crowd

As it begins to heat up again I'm thinking about our favorite summer breakfasts.  My kids enjoy a breakfast of granola (a mostly nut mix, very low on the traditional grains), yogurt, and fruit.  I make my own granola because most commercially available granolas are generally full of sugar and junk making them no better than a box of cereal (in my opinion).  I generally use what I have on hand and don't have a set recipe, I'll give the basics though as a starting point, this would be very easy to make gluten or grain free.  I do like to include the oats as they are a healthy inexpensive filler to help this stretch.

Nut Granola (all measurements are approximate unless otherwise noted)

1 c. sesame seeds
1 c. shredded coconut
1 c chia seeds (ground)
1 c flax seeds (ground)
(wheat germ could also be included if you don't mind having more grain in your granola)
1 c sunflower kernels
2 c almonds (chopped or pulsed in blender/food processor)
2 c macadamia nuts (chopped or pulsed in blender/food processor)
2 c hazelnuts (chopped or pulsed in blender/food processor)
(pecans, and walnuts are great choices too.  I sometimes include slivered almonds as well)
4 c rolled oats
(get creative, just about any seed or nut could work in this)

Mix all of the above ingredients in a very large bowl

(the below ingredients are more exact amounts)
1 cup coconut oil
1 cup honey
1 Tbs vanilla
2-3 tsp cinnamon (nutmeg could also be good)
1 tsp salt
(feel free to add any other flavors/spices you would like in you granola)

Melt the first three ingredients in a small sauce pan.  Just enough to combine, especially if you are using raw honey to avoid killing off the good stuff.  Then add the spices, vanilla and salt and mix well.

Combine all ingredients in a large pan (I use my turkey roasting pan) or two.  Place in oven heated to 350, remove and stir every 10 minutes or so until lightly golden brown.  I found that 30-40 minutes was about right for my pan/batch.  Allow to cool and then place in a large container (I like to use a glass gallon jar).