Saturday, January 2, 2016

New Year. New Goals.

Well it has been a while since I've written a post. A friend just started a new blog which led me to get back to my own. 2016 has already seen so many life changes.

We moved into a new house on December 31st and welcomed in 2016 together as a family in our just moved chaos. These next few weeks will be about unpacking, organizing, and getting settled back into a normal routine.

Since we are in a new house, we will need to come up with creative organizing ideas, especially since we will be adding a new baby in May. As I come up with organizing solutions, I plan to write a post and show pictures of what we have done. So look forward to those posts.

Later this week we will find out and reveal the gender of Baby Manteuffel #2. We are so excited to find out and telling our family and friends. We have a great plan for that as well so look out for that post and corresponding video.

My friend and I have a plan to start some preschool lessons with our little ones ages 3, 2, and 2. I will show some of those lessons and activities we do throughout the year as we enter the world of homeschooling. (Well we've always been homeschooling just through raising our littles, but you know what I mean.)

Last March I started a business with Usborne Books and More. I have big goals for my business this year and I will be sharing some of those experiences as well. I will also write about how you can use Usborne Books for homeschooling or supplementing your child's schooling at public or private school.

Lastly, I am bound and determined to get into a healthy lifestyle through what I eat and after the baby arrives working out. I will post favorite healthy recipes and ideas for those who are also wanting to have healthier eating habits.

I am looking forward to this journey of writing regularly and enjoying the experience of connecting with others through this process.

Leave a comment below with your goals for 2016.


Saturday, December 13, 2014

One Year's Supply of Homemade Laundry Detergent

Today, I finally got around to doing something I have been wanting to do for well over a year. I made my own laundry detergent that should last us a whole year. I found this video on YouTube that gave me the ingredients and how-to. I followed pretty much what they have but with a couple changes. I also bought everything from Walmart. 

The ingredients:

1 (4 lb 12 oz) Box of Borax
1 (3 lb 7 oz) Box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
1 (4 lb) Box of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda
5 (5.5 oz) Bars of Fels Naptha Soap

Optional Ingredients: 
1 (3 lb) Container of OxyClean 
1 (19.5 oz) Downy Unstoppables 
1 (13.5 oz) Downy Unstoppables

Other supplies you'll need:
2 (1 gallon) glass jars plus another smaller container for extra soap that didn't fit in the glass jars (I used a storage container from my kitchen)
1 stainless steel coffee scoop (measures 2 Tbsp.)
2 (13 gallon) trash bags
kitchen blender 
large bowl
large spoon

The first step was breaking up the bars of Fels Naptha. I used my flexible cutting board (pours easily into blender) and chopped it into large chunks. Then I blended one bar at a time in my blender until it looked like bread crumbs. (I got the idea of using a blender from another video.) The first three bars worked perfectly this way. But the last two bars were not as dry, I guess, and just gummed up in my blender. So I transferred them into a microwaveable bowl and heated them for 1 minute. (A suggestion made in the above video.) I then used the end of my large spoon to break it up more. When it was cool enough I poured it into the large bowl that I had put the other bars of soap that had been crumbled. I further broke up the chunks of soap with my hands and it crumbled quite well with the added grain of the other bars of soap. 

I originally planned to mix everything in a large bucket I picked up from Dollar Tree but it was too small so I went to plan B which was the two trash bags. I saw a lady do this in her video making laundry detergent but I can't find that video now. I got help from my husband to get everything into the bags and then tied each bag and he tumbled it around in his arms for a minute. 

The OxyClean came with a scoop that I used to scoop all of the soap out of the bags and into the glass jars. To get the rest of the soap that wouldn't fit into the glass jars, I cut a corner of the trash bag and poured the little bit into the storage container. 

Here are some pictures of the items I used and the final product.

 Borax $3.97    Washing Soda $$3.97    Baking Soda $2.24

 OxyClean $7.52

Downy Unstoppables $8.94 for large bottle  $6.97 for small bottle
(I used the Fresh scent of Unstoppables)

Fels Naptha $0.97 each

Glass jars $5.47 each
Coffee Scoop $1.67
4 Spoon set $0.88 (used the largest spoon)

My total for everything:

Divide that by 12 months and it's $4.62 of laundry detergent per month. You only need to use 2 tbsp. of detergent per large load. I will not have to purchase the jars, coffee scoop, or spoons again which will bring my total down to $41.06 OR $3.42 per month. Compared to what I was spending on Sun liquid laundry detergent of $5.97 per container. It may not seem like enough of a difference to go through the hassle but it's spending either $41.06 per year or $71.64 per year. Umm....yeah I would like to keep my $30 and spend it somewhere else. 

For those wondering...this is both infant/baby safe and safe for sensitive skin. (My two concerns for our daughter and myself.)

I will start using this at the beginning of 2015 so I can see exactly how long it takes to use it. 

My next plan is to make my own fabric softenerdish detergent and dishwasher detergent

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Library sales are THE BEST!!!

I absolutely LOVE the library sales in our area. There are 20 branches to the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library system and each have their own individual sales throughout the year. This summer while driving around town with my husband, we were driving past one of the libraries and they happened to be having a sale. I had him stop so that I could go in and find some great deals. Children's books were 25 cents and adults were 50 cents. I walked out with several bags of books and only paid $7! (I also helped a kid boy a set of headphones for the computer when he was short $1.) 

THEN, there is the Friends of the Library store and cafe at the Main Library that sells withdrawn and donated books throughout the year for bargain basement prices. Also, there is another Friends of the Library store across town that sells withdrawn and donated books during special event sales for three days every couple of months. This location is much bigger than the store at the Main Library and is jam packed full with so many books, magazines, DVDs, VHS, cassette tapes, etc.

I absolutely love these sales!!

I put them into the calendar on my phone so I don't miss any. At the last sale in early November, I snagged a complete 2009 World Book Encyclopedia set for....$22!!!! Yes, you read that correctly, twenty-two dollars. Most of the books had never been opened because when I opened them to check them out, I got that awesome cracking sound that you only hear from brand new book binding. It is one of my favorite sounds. (To put this in perspective, a brand new 2014 set retails at $1,100.)

Yesterday, I went to a "sidewalk sale" at the Main Library store and picked up 38 books and a reusable tote for $8. That's $0.21 (twenty-one cents) per book, not including the tote. Book topics include art, science, world and American history, government, classic literature, ballet, handicrafts, biography, Shakespeare, foreign language, potty training, and couponing! (A couple random topics, I know!)

December 2014 Sidewalk Sale Haul

Why do I go so crazy for these sales?

We plan to homeschool and I don't plan to use very many textbooks (science and math texts though). However, I did find a Physical science textbook by my preferred science curriculum publisher Apologia for $2 at Savers a while back. It is the 1st edition and I did a quick search online and people are selling it for $12-$16 so I scored there too. The text also has a test and solutions manual that I snagged for $6, a student journal for labs for $3, and flash cards for $1.50. All of this brand new for the 2nd edition would have been $118! 

LIVING BOOKS is the plan. 

What are living books? gives the best description I could find...
Living books are usually written by one person who has a passion for the subject and writes in conversational or narrative style. The books pull you into the subject and involve your emotions, so it’s easy to remember the events and facts. Living books make the subject “come alive.”
We will use all of these books meshing Charlotte Mason's method and classical education. In both education methods, children read A LOT of books. I have been a HUGE book lover since I learned to read at 3.5 years old. The whole world was opened up to me because of my love for books and reading. I want the same thing for my child(ren).  

While I want to have a great home library to teach my children, I also want to be wise with how much money we spend. As a family, we try to use only cash when we go shopping so we are always collecting a lot of change. I save the change in a can and when I go to the sales, I take my can of change and pay this way. I have forgotten my can of change a couple of times or just didn't have it because I didn't know about one of the branch sales, but I try to only use this change. It makes me think twice about each book I purchase because I can only spend however much change I have. 

As of today, I have amassed a collection of around 300 books from library sales and a few Goodwill and Savers purchases. I haven't completely paid attention to how much I have spent but I believe it to be around $150. Maybe. I have a good average of about 30-40 cents per book. 

If you've read this far you might be thinking that I'm bragging. Honestly, it's not like that. I am so excited that my desire to homeschool will not bust the bank. So many homeschooling families spend thousands of dollars a year to educate their children. With what I have already collected, I probably could stop here and supplement certain areas with library books. I am so thankful we live in an area that has a huge library system that sells the books that they no longer have use for. 

If you were thinking about homeschooling but are worried about the cost, don't. You can do the same thing I'm doing and save your family thousands of dollars. Or if you just want to have lots of books handy to encourage your kids to read, yeah, you can get books from the library that are free. But beware of late fees. You might save yourself a lot of money going to the library sales and be able to keep the books forever. Once your kids are grown and no longer need or want the books, have a yard sale and maybe make more than what you bought them for. That's what I plan to do!!!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Don't be a Lukewarm Christian!

In Matthew 16:13 Jesus asks His disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" This question is so relevant today it is screaming out from the Heavens. From one end of the spectrum, people believe there is no God and at the other end people believe God is who He says He is. 

Those who believe in a godless world are talked about in Psalm 14:1 which says, "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.'" I pray every day that the scales will fall off their eyes and they will see God's glorious light. 

The people I worry the most about are those who believe in the existence of God but deny the sovereignty, power, and presence of Jesus and pick and choose what parts of Scripture they want to follow

I understand it to be an all or nothing thing. Either you believe ALL of who God says He is, ALL of what He commands us to do and be, ALL of what He has done, is doing, and will do or you don't believe any of it. 

You're either ALL in or ALL out. 

Don't ride the fence because there is nothing worse tasting to God than a lukewarm believer. He will vomit you out and and when you say Lord, Lord, did I not do great things in Your name? He will say He never knew you. 

If you fall into this area of the spectrum, read Romans 10:8-13...

“The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” 

But don't stop there, follow the two greatest commandments Matthew 22:36-39...

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’"

  • Read your Bible to learn the attributes of God. 
  • Know who He is, what He has, is, and will do
  • Pray that God helps you to "not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." 
  • And "if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness." 
Revere God and live a life that brings Him glory.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Am I a Wife Living Well?

At the beginning of the week, I had these grand plans to write a fantabulous post based on chapters 6 and 7 of Women Living Well. After coming down with a sinus infection/upper respiratory infection, I have decided to just directly answer the questions Courtney posted on her site. Maybe at a later date I will revisit this topic and write out the post I was originally intending. 
So here goes....
Chapter 6 Questions "The Time-Warp Wife"
1.)  We all have husbands with different needs.  What are some areas you already help your husband?
I think the number 1 area I help my husband is filling his stomach. LOL In all seriousness, I absolutely LOVE to cook. I love trying new recipes, making up my own recipes, and loving on my husband through serving delicious meals. This love for cooking is not natural by any means. I used to be the joke of the family when it came to cooking. I recall when I was 12 or 13, I was at my older sister's house and I wanted to make myself boxed mac and cheese. At that age boiling water and noodles should not have been difficult. However, I didn't stand over the pot, forgot that I was cooking and burned the pot before I even got a chance to put the noodles in. From that point on, no one in the family allowed me to cook. I finally started learning in 2006 when I started watching "30 Minute Meals with Rachael Ray." I would watch every evening after work and after a while I started to attempt the easiest recipes. After several months of good and bad experiences, I really started to flourish in the kitchen. I loved that I can make delicious meals and even my roommates started requesting me to cook. Now that I'm married, I am so thankful I tried to cook again because I love to see the smile on my husband's face after he takes that first bite. It makes my heart soar.
2.)  Read Genesis 2:18 and the context there. What are some areas where you could work to be a better source of support and encouragement?
Genesis 2:18--And the LORD God said, "It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him." (NKJV)
The area I struggle in the most is making sure the home is always inviting. When we first got married, I moved into my husband's one bedroom apartment. While the apartment was quite large, I never fully felt like it was my home because he had it situated according to his preferences. When we brought my things into the apartment along with all of our wedding presents, the large apartment started to feel even more cramped to me. Now we live in my mother's house, also quite large, and yet I still have the same feelings because I do not feel comfortable disturbing the things she has in the home. We have way too much furniture and possessions crammed into the spaces we use and I just haven't been able to make heads or tails of it. I have recently been more diligent about keeping things as orderly as I can, but I still falter at times. There are days I know I can do better, I just don't know how. 
Another area I am working on is walking through the home and praying over the house and our family. I am not completely efficient at this but I am slowly becoming more comfortable with this. 

Chapter 7 Questions "Marriage in the Age of Media"
1.)  What affect has media had on your marriage?  Are there any boundaries you need to put in place to protect your marriage?
Media has had a large affect on my marriage. I love watching television, my husband loves to play video games, and we both have smart phones that at times put walls between us. It is quite common for one of us to complain about the other's media habits. I have given up watching many of the television shows I used to watch because they were not edifying in any way. In the chapter Courtney talks about shows where "women wear the pants." I used to watch so many shows like that and never realized how much of an impact they had on my view of marriage. After I stopped watching the shows and started reading scripture about God's view of a wife in Proverbs 31, Ephesians, and other passages, my thoughts have changed and I now see what my role in marriage is to be. I still struggle as I am learning and applying the principles of the scriptures but I know over time it will start to feel more natural to me.
2.)  Read Proverbs 14:1.  How does this verse pertain to media?
Proverbs 14:1--The wise woman builds her house, But the foolish pulls it down with her hands. (NKJV)
Depending upon what shows, music, and websites a woman views or hears, she can either set a positive or negative atmosphere in the home. Also, the amount of time spent on these activities is a factor as well. As Courtney points on in the book, media is amoral. It depends on how the media is used or what kind of media is used depends on if it is good or bad, uplifting or destructive. I spend a lot of time on Christian blogs and websites, bible study online through Facebook, and watching television shows that are fairly decent, however, they can still tear my family apart if I forsake my responsibilities as a wife and mother. How I run my household determines the health of my marriage and family. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Intentionally Focused Week 1 Wrap-Up

For the next eight weeks I will be doing the Good Morning Girls bible study entitled, {Intentionally Focused.} At the end of each week I will write a post about what I've learned throughout the week and how I am instilling the Word of God into my heart so that I can live my life more for Him and less for me.

Some of my goals for the study are:
1. Stay committed and finish all 8 weeks.
2. Memorize at least 5 of the 8 memory verses.
3. Stay up to date with the Facebook group I lead.

This week's study was an introduction into living our lives intentionally focused on Christ. The main verses we studied were:

Ephesians 5:1--Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.

Psalm 90:12--So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Hebrews 12:1--Therefore, we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.

Ephesians 5:15,16--See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

Philippians 3:14--I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

My first challenge in completing this study was figuring out a time to set aside for my bible study. I have an eight month old who is not quite on a schedule throughout the day so planning to do the study during her naptime would not work. She usually takes a three hour nap but not at a specific time (not by my choice.) So I prayed about it and 5am was what Jesus laid on my heart. I actually have been balking at this time for quite some time now (at least 6 months). My fleshly desire for sleep outweighed my desire to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit until I was desperate to make changes in my life. Since I'm doing a study called "INTENTIONALLY Focused," I think it be important I make INTENTIONAL effort to do that. So 5am it is! 5AM! FIVE AM!

So Monday rolls around and I wake up at 5am. Drag myself out of bed. And practically sprint to the coffee maker. Haha I open my laptop (it's an online study BTW) and pull out my notebook and bible. I say a quick prayer and I turn to the first scripture for the week Ephesians 5:1-14 and read. I write out verse one for my SOAP journal entry and just stare at the words for what seemed like an eternity (I'm still not fully awake.)

Then it hits me. I sent a few verses to one of the teen girls in my church about Jesus getting up and going out to pray {Luke 6:12 and Mark 1:35}. I'm reading about imitating God and those verses about Jesus getting up in the morning before daylight literally snapped me out of that half sleep mode I was in. It was at that moment I was absolutely determined to be up every morning at 5am to make sure I am able to put in the time and focus on Christ before the busyness of the day hits me like a tidal wave. I am committed to my 5am time with Jesus at my dining room table Monday through Friday.

Now that I am finished with this week's study I see a thread woven throughout the scripture passages that I studied. If you are to be an imitator of God, you need to first use your time wisely because your time on earth is so limited and you don't know how long you really have here. So you need to remain focused on imitating Christ's example everyday so that you can gain a heart of wisdom. You also have other examples of men and women of faith to learn from. The specific names are listed in Hebrews chapter 11 but you are reminded of this "cloud of witnesses" so that when you are tempted to sin you can remember how these witnesses remained faithful to God and finished the race well. To run the race well, you need to be cautious, diligent in your walk and once again pay close attention to the time you have available and capitalize on every opportunity to live for Jesus. Then, and only then, can you see the grand prize in the distance. But you can't give up. You need to continue to strain every muscle with an outstretched hand towards the finish line until you can grab hold of your prize, the heavenly call of God.

{Memory Verse}


Post in the comment section below...
How are you being intentionally focused in your walk with God?

What are some changes you need to make in your life so that you can live more intentional for Christ? Read Psalm 90:12 and Psalm 39:4,5.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Women Living Well Book Club--Week 2

In chapter 4 of Women Living Well, Courtney discusses the effect the media has had on society and ultimately our walks with God. Just a few years ago, it was more common to only have a home phone cord attaching it to the wall. Growing up we had a rotary phone hanging on the wall in our kitchen. I clearly remember when my mother purchased a cord so long, my sister could take the receiver from the kitchen through the living room and down the hall to her bedroom. I'm sure when she got in there she had to sit right inside the door on the floor because that cord was stretched to the max at that point. There was no hiding that she was on the phone talking with someone. Today, it's so easy to hide how much time we are spending on the phone, texting, or private messaging people because with not just cell phones, but smart phones that literally puts the world at our finger tips, we can hide so much. We can claim to be living for God but really we're just wasting our time on nonsense.

We also can get caught up in social media through our phones and computers. I have found myself spending so much time on Facebook scrolling through endless status updates and chatting with friends many times about nothing. I'm not so big into other avenues such as Twitter and Instagram. I have accounts but don't use them all that often. But I do get lost in Pinterest on occasion looking at home decor and recipes for food. I also read homeschool forums every day. I call it preparing for the days when my daughter is old enough, but really it's just idle time that could be spent doing more important things.

This week I started a new bible study through Good Morning Girls called Intentionally Focused. So far this week I have realized that I need to be a true imitator of God by studying His Word and praying so that I can know who Jesus is and His will. Then I can be an imitator and shine His light for others to see. I also need to realize my days on this earth are short and I do not know how long I have so I need to be diligent and cautious with the things I do so that I do not waste time. Ephesians 5:15-16 say, "See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil." (NKJV) Circumspectly means to be diligent, perfect, careful, cautious. Redeeming means to buy up, improve opportunity. I need to be cautious with my time and redeem or improve my opportunity to live better, more intentionally focused on Jesus. I want to be like the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31:27-29 "She watches over the ways of her household, And does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; Her husband also, and he praises her: 'Many daughters have done well, But you excel them all.'" (NKJV) I can only be a blessing to my family and be praised if I watch over my household properly. To do this I need to be wise with my time and not allow idle moments to steal my focus. These days are short and I have a purpose to fulfill. I am determined in 2014 to be disciplined and live my life as if each day is my last by keeping my eyes intentionally focused on Jesus so that I can be an imitator of Him.