Monday, February 25, 2013

Swap (large family finances)

Every family has stuff around that they don't need, and also needs that must be filled.  The saying "One man's junk is another man's treasure" is what a Swap is all about.  When de-cluttering, switching out clothes for the season, or just moving on to other things/places; being able to bless others you know is always nice.  The church we've been attending does about six swaps a year and they are such a blessing!

Swap basics- First you'll need a group to do your swap with.  Our regular group is our church, but we've also done one with a homeschool group (these have all been organized by others in our groups, but I'm looking forward to being able to put them together at our next assignment).  I'm sure there are plenty of other groups that this could work with.  This is part of being a community, part of the body of Christ; caring for one another and sharing our blessings/burdens.

Next you'll need a space for this.  A large open space with lots of tables (labeled by category) is very nice but this can easily be done in a home as well.

Some guidelines are helpful.
- At our church swap everyone is welcome to choose things, even if they didn't bring anything.  You will need to decide for your group how you would want to do this.

-What to bring?  Anything can be brought as long as it is in good working condition (though our boys are THRILLED with broken electronics to take appart, a note on them is a good idea).  Clothes with no stains or holes are great.  Toys, games, books, and puzzles are fun.  Household items, craft supplies, decor and tools can be a wonderful blessing.  Baby gear is often very lightly used and has much life in it when you are done, bless someone else with it!  Furniture, bikes and other large items can really be a blessing, but it may be a good idea to send out an e-mail to the group with a picture to find out if anyone wants it before going through the effort of bringing it or make sure that the person responsible for the leftovers is willing to deal with it.  Livestock has been joked about at our swap...

-Set up.  Label tables/areas with categories such as baby, little girls, big girls, little boys, big boys, men, women, toys, books, household, shoes, etc...

-Order of picking needs to be determined.  You could give numbers in the order that people RSVP'd or arrived at the swap, or just not worry about it.

- Kids have fun at a swap too, but should wait until the adults have all had the chance to look over everything and have grabbed what they need.  Kids should be reminded that they need to check with parents before claiming anything.

-What to do with the leftovers?  There are always plenty of great leftovers at the swaps.  Sometimes they just don't fill a need of those who are there, but could truly bless someone else.  There are many ministries, charities, and groups that are happy to take such things.  Make sure that you make arrangements ahead of time especially if it is a smaller organization.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Links I love

I enjoyed reading this article on not only our nations falling fertility rate, but the world as a whole.  I'm happy to be doing my part to keep the rate from falling even lower. ;)

Worried about my (or any other) naive homeschoolers heading out into the world and not knowing how to cope?  This post is a bit long, but it is wonderfully written and explains very well why we think homeschooling is best for our kids (though I did NOT write it).

I enjoyed reading through the entire blog The year of less recently.  Not surprisingly a blog about de-cluttering and a minimalist life did not take too long to read.  As it turned out, while the writer was simplifying she found that one of the things that was taking up too much time, and taking away from her family, was the blog.  I really liked many of the posts, but one of my favorites was this one;  I thought that numbers 10, 11 and 12 were especially good.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Healthy eating- getting the junk food out (Lent)

One of my goals for this year was to work on healthier eating.  We've been letting too much junk in, to help us get it all out of our systems we've got a plan for Lent.  Healthier eating is not just good for our bodies, it can help clear the mind and can even be better on the pocket book (healthier can mean less medical expenses, and I find that when I'm eating whole foods my body just feels more satisfied ).

No wheat- while we are not cutting out all grains, wheat (in the form of white flour) is in so much of the "junk" be bring into the house.  This (wheat) is also something we are phasing out, or keeping to a minimum for medical reasons.  For this period of time we are going to get it all our of our systems.  Oatmeal will be our main grain as well as some quinoa and a bit of brown rice.

No refined sugars-  This will easily cut out the rest of the junk.  No white sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, and (as always) no artificial sweeteners.  What will we be using?  We will mostly be using honey, maple syrup, and some stevia.

Dye free- We have been moving to no artificial colors, we will get all of it out of the house after Mardi Gras and then keep it out!

What will we be eating?  I find that when taking something away it is very helpful to focus on what we CAN have and even add in some new alternatives.

For breakfast we will be having baked oatmeal, eggs, some bacon and maybe sausage.   We may even try some yummy baked goods like doughnuts and cinnamon rolls.  This looked like a fun breakfast too.

Lunches are fairly easy; the kids have a favorite bean dish we will have regularly.  I've made quite the stash of crackers including graham crackers (a huge hit), club crackers (enjoyed by most), herb crackers (YUM!  I love these; the recipe is found in this book), and coconut crackers (good, but need to be cooked until crunchy next time).  We will add in fruits, veggies, cheese, and salami for some tasty lunches that are a hit with my kids.

Feeling bad for my poor kids?  Don't.  I've got plenty of goodies planned for this time including (but not limited to)....

Vanilla bean cake, brownies, honey "caramel" corn, and homemade Hazelnut spread(nutella) pictured to the right.

I'll be posting on my family blog about our Valentine's day treats as well as St. Patrick's day.  Head on over there to see what I come up with.

Some of my favorite (on line) resources for healthy but "normal" recipes are...

Deliciously Organic

Spunky Coconut

Elana's Pantry

What about you?  Are you making some changes to how your family is eating?  What are you doing?  What are some of your favorite resources?  What are you doing to make this fun and help you stick to your plans?