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A Heart For Home: January 2009

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Saying "No" To More So I Can Say "Yes" To Less

I've found that life as a wife, mom, and keeper of the home is all about priorities. Lately, I've been having to say "no" to a lot of good things so that I have time to say "yes" to the best things in life. My relationships with God, my husband, & our children are the most important things. However, it's so easy to be pulled in too many different directions.

The people pleaser and attention getter in me want to be involved in lots of activities so that I can feel needed and important. This is so ironic, because when I stop and think about it, the one place I am truly needed the most is in my home. As unglamorous as my job may be, I know that my children and yes, even my husband, would be totally lost if they woke up one day without me.

So, instead of trying to rush through my responsibilities at home so I can move on to something else, I'm recommiting to enjoy my job as the keeper of our home, knowing that this is where I have the ability to make the largest impact and to feel the most satisfaction.

Do you struggle with keeping your priorities in line? How do you keep focused on what's really important?

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Elly Nelly Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to Rebekah (scgirl816@...) for being the winner of Elly Nelly's Safari decal.

Didn't win, but still want a decal? Head over to Elly Nelly's shop and check out their great selection!

Rebekah, you should have received an email from me. Please, contact me as soon as possible. Thanks!

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Etsy Shop Showcase ~ Fabric Closet Review & Upcoming Giveaway


I've fallen for designer fabric! However it can be difficult to find great fabrics in a town with only two fabric stores. That's where Etsy comes in to save the day yet again. I stumbled upon Fabric Closet, another great fabric shop recently and had the pleasure of working with the shop's owner, Krista, to put together a review and giveaway.

Krista is a military wife and a stay-at-home mom of a 3 year old son and a 6 month old daughter. Krista has been sewing since she can remember and loves designer fabric. Fabric Closet carries great fabrics from designers like Amy Butler, Patty Young, Michael Miller, Alexander Henry, and many more. Browsing through the shop made me feel like a kid in a candy store.

I decided to order a fabric scrap pack so I could show you the wonderful variety of fabric that Fabric Closet carries. I also have an amazing craft project in store for these beautiful fabrics. Krista sells designer fabric scrap packs, which are equivalent to 2 yards of fabric by weight, for only $14. All of the scraps are between 5-17" wide x 22" long. The colors and fabrics vary, but if you have a favorite designer or color in mind, Krista will try to customize your scraps :)

Krista prepared and shipped our order very quickly. Within a few days I was drooling over these beautiful fabrics.


Here are a few more of my favorite fabics from Fabric Closet (http://www.fabriccloset.etsy.com/).

Click on the photos to view the listing or just browse through the entire shop.





If you make a purchase, please let Krista know that you found out about the shop at A Heart For Home.

Interested in having your shop featured in our Etsy Shop Showcase? Leave me a comment & find out more here. Do you have products that you'd like me to do a review for, but don't sell on Etsy? Just leave me a comment with your e-mail address & I'll contact you about doing a review.

Also, view all of our Etsy Shop Showcases listed under the Review tab.


Check back here Monday, February 9th for Fabric Closet's giveaway. Afraid you'll forget and miss out on a great fabric giveaway? Simply subscribe to our blog or become a follower to keep up with what's happening at A Heart For Home.


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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Healthy Sweet Potato Fries

I've been meaning to get to these for awhile now, so this past week when Tim was working late, Emahry and I made and enjoyed these wonderful fries.


Sweet Potato Fries (Serves 1)

1 small sweet potato, cut in strips
1 tsp olive oil
salt, pepper, & paprika to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Coat baking sheet with cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, toss sweet potato strips with oil & seasonings.
Place strips on baking sheet.
Bake for 30 minutes, shaking or turning half way through.

This recipe works for me!

Related Posts:
Freezer Crock-Pot Lasagna
Jambalya for $3.82
Easy Hamburger-Vegetable Soup for $4.41
Cream Cheese Chicken Soup
Chunky Crock Pot Applesauce
Oatmeal Pancakes
Crock Pot Tacos
Summer Squash Soup
Whole Wheat Pitas

This post also contributed to Tackle-It Tuesday, Kitchen Tip Tuesday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, & Tasty Tuesday.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Six FREE Valentine Photo Cards






Enter the code valentine at checkout to claim your set of 6 FREE Valentine’s Day cards with free shipping from Stories by Everyone! (Hurry, offer expires February 1, 2009.)

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Spread Some Bloggy Love

Happy To Be At Home is hosting a 14-day Valentine's challenge to encourage everyone to show appreciation to their favorite blog writers. They have a list of 14 was you can enourage blog writers. Here are some of my favorite ideas ~ hint, hint ;)

~ Comment, comment, comment! Stop by your favorite blogs and leave a comment on one or two posts.

~ Subscribe. If you don’t already, subscribe via RSS, e-mail, or follow the blog on blogger.

~ Click through an ad or visit a site sponsor. (Hey, we SAHM need to make money any way we can)

~ Write a post on your blog and share links to some of your favorite bloggers.

Please visit Happy to Be At Home to read the entire Spread Some Bloggy Love Challenge.

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Etsy Shop Showcase & Giveaway ~ Down Shadow Lane

I recently had the pleasure of working with Jen through her Etsy fabric shop, Down Shadow Lane. Jen is a stay-at-home mom who loves fabric and sewing. Down Shadow Lane carries a wide range of fabric including vintage, retro, reproduction, quilting, and children's prints.

We've been looking for a way to brighten up our very neutral living room. When I saw these prints I knew they would make great thrown pillows for our taupe sofa and love seat. The black and white fabric is Alexander Henry Home Decor Sofia in Black, the red is Japanese Import Kokka Trees on Red, the multicolored floral is Alexander Henry Home Decor Mocca in Brown. I love how colorful these fabrics are without being too overwhelming. They are also reasonably priced at $12 for a half yard bundle of the Sofia in Black and the Kokka Trees (that's 1 yard total) and $13.50 for the Mocca. Remember the Sofia and the Mocca are decorator weight fabrics and come in 44/45" widths, so these prices are very good.

Jen's customer service is wonderful and our fabric arrived quickly to my great delight. Fabric like this is fun to just look at, which is what I'll be doing for a few weeks until I can get some time to start sewing.

Go check out all her wonderful fabric for yourself at Down Shadow Lane. If you make a purchase, please let Jen know that you found out about the shop at A Heart For Home.

Interested in having your shop featured in our Etsy Shop Showcase? Leave me a comment & find out more here. Do you have products that you'd like me to do a review for, but don't sell on Etsy? Just leave me a comment with your e-mail address & I'll contact you about doing a review.

Also, view all of our Etsy Shop Showcases listed under the Review tab.





Now for the giveaway! Jen has graciously offered one of our wonderful readers a 4 pack bundle of fat quarters. Wait it gets even better. You can choose any 4 fabrics from her entire shop.

Here's a small sample to wet your appetite.





To Enter This Giveaway:

1. Head over to Down Shadow Lane and browse through all the beautiful fabric. Then come back here and leave a comment telling us which 4 fabrics you would like to win. (Please, note that the winner may need to chose an alternate fabric if it is sold out at the time of the drawing.)

2. Subscribe to A Heart For Home (let us know if you've already subscribed)

3. Follow Our Blog (let us know if you already follow)

4. Post about and link to this giveaway on your blog (leave us the link in your comment)

Please leave a separate comment for each entry! (That's one with your favorite 4 fabrics, one telling us you've subscribed, one telling us you've signed up to follow our blog, & one with the link to your blog's advertisement of this giveaway.)

The giveaway will end February 6th, at 12 Midnight EST. We will pick the winner through random generator. Make sure you leave a way for us to contact you.

Head over to Bloggy Giveaways for the Quarterly Giveaway Carnival starting Monday, January, 26th.

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Long Overdue Christmas Photos

A collage of photos from Christmas morning with Papa, Meme, Uncle Nate, Mariah, Aunt Kate, & Zoe (their dog). Click to Enlarge.
Posted by Picasa

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Etsy Shop Showcase & Giveaway ~ elly nelly

We recently received this wonderful Safari vinyl decal from Elaine and Nell Oliver, the mother & daughter team that is known on Etsy as elly nelly. They carry primarily vinyl wall decals, but are looking to branch out into a wider range of decorating mediums.

Tim & I are slowly putting things up on our bare walls and since Emahry loves animals we knew this was perfect for her room. Our decal is a sky blue that elly nelly calls Bert.

A few days after our order was processed, the decal arrived safely rolled in a cardboard tube. Enclosed were easy to follow directions for applying the decal. Basically, you just peel off the backing, position the decal, and press to adhere it to the surface.
These designs are easily applied and look great on walls, windows, mirrors, fridges, tiles, ceilings, and bathrooms. Basically, any smooth clean surface.

We've decided to place these decals along the bottom of the white roller shades in the kids' bedroom. I never realized how difficult it is to take photos out of windows, I can't get the light right. These decals look awesome in person, the photo really doesn't do them justice.

Here are a few more of my favorite decals from ellynelly's shop (http://www.ellynelly.etsy.com/).

Click on the photos to view the listing or just browse through the entire shop. The detail of these decals is amazing.




With such a wide range of designs and colors, elly nelly is sure to have something for everyone.

If you place an order, please let them know that you found out about the shop at A Heart For Home. Thanks!

Interested in having your shop featured in our Etsy Shop Showcase? Find out more here.

Also, view all of our Etsy Shop Showcases listed under the Review tab.

Now for the Updated Giveaway! Elly Nelly has graciously offered a Safari decal to one of our wonderful readers. This decal will be in the color Betty (dark brown as shown in the first photo). (Continental US only.)
To Enter This Giveaway:

1. Head over to ellynelly and browse through their amazing designs. Then come back here and leave a comment telling us which wall decal is your favorite.

2. Subscribing to A Heart For Home (let us know if you've already subscribed)

3. Following Our Blog (let us know if you already follow)

4. Post about and link to this giveaway on your blog (leave us the link in your comment)

5. Leave a comment, telling us what you like best about our blog.

Please leave a separate comment for each entry! (That's one with your favorite decal, one telling us you've subscribed, one telling us you've signed up to follow our blog, one with the link to your blog's advertisement of this giveaway, & one telling us what you like best about our blog.)

This giveaway will end Friday, January 30th, at 12 Midnight EST. We will pick the winner through random generator. Make sure you leave a way for us to contact you (either an email address or a blog address that has contact information.)

Head over to Bloggy Giveaways for the Quarterly Giveaway Carnival starting Monday, January, 26th.

Keep you eye out for more great giveaways from A Heart For Home (subscribe to our blog, so you won't miss a thing).

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Swagbucks ~ Earn Gift Cards For Searching Online


Search & Win


I've just discovered another way to help our family financially while staying home with our children. Swagbucks is a online search engine that rewards you for searching online. I don't know about you but we do a lot of searching online, anything from healthy eating to basketball game schedules, cloth diapers, and more. I first read about Swagbucks on Money Saving Mom, then I began some investigating of my own.

Swagbucks is very simply to sign up for. What I liked the most was that there are no fees and no credit card required. They don't even ask for a phone number or address.

When you sign up, you are credited 3 points to your account. You then have the option of downloading the toolbar. The toolbar is not necessary, but it does make searching through Swagbucks easier because it's always in full view. If you can't download the toolbar, you can still use Swagbucks by accessing their website.

Use Swagbucks searches just like you would use Google. In fact, Swagbucks search results come from Google and Ask, so they are just as good. You'll probably earn a few points a day if you search a lot. After only 45 points earned, you can get a free Amazon gift card. Or at 50 points, you can get a Starbucks gift card. There are lots of other prizes, too.

Now, a $5 gift card once a month isn't that exciting I know, but it's something and it's only the beginning. Your earnings will exponentially multiply when you refer others.

Do you know anyone else who searches online? Well, tell them about Swagbucks, send them your referral link, and you'll not only instantly earn more points when they sign up, you'll also earn points for the searching they do online.

Tell a lot of people and you're on your way to funding your year's gifts budget with free gift cards from Swagbucks.

For those of you who have blogs, this is a great way to earn some free gift cards. You can also post the Swagbucks button on your MySpace or Facebook account. It's free, it won't take much of your time to do, and it could generate a steady flow of gift cards in your mailbox.

I don't know about you, but that sounds pretty great to me! So what are you waiting for? Go sign up here.

Updated To Add: We've been searching with swagbucks & telling others about it for 4 days now and we've already earned 105 Swagbucks
It works for me. For more frugal living ideas visit Biblical Womanhood.


Search & Win

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Wordle Word Clouds

Wordle: Keeper of My Heart

I've just descovered Wordle, a great website resource for making word clouds. For the cloud above I simply copied and pasted a post from our blog. This post was entitlied Keeper of My Heart. (Read it here.)

Wordle takes the text and turns it into a word cloud. You can customize the word cloud by changing the font, color, direction, etc. The words that are larger appear more in the text.

This would be a great gift for a friends or relative with their name and words that describe them.

Here are a few variations of the same word cloud.


Wordle: Untitled Wordle: Untitled Wordle: Untitled


Any other ideas on using Wordle? Leave me a comment, I'd love to read your ideas.

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Freezer Crock Pot Lasagna

Lindsay over at Passionate Homemaking is having a Nutritious Freezer Meals Carnival today, so I thought I'd share one of my favorite convenience meals.

I usually make about three of these lasagnas at one time and place them all in the freezer. They make great dinners for the days when we're we'll be away from the house or just busy all day.

First things first, take a look at your crock pot and find a freezable container that will fit inside the bottom of your crock. I normally use one of our round Corningware or Pyrex dishes. Line your dish(es) with foil and spray or rub with oil. Now you're ready to make your freezer crock pot lasagna(s).


Freezer Crock-Pot Lasagna (vegetarian)

8 oz. whole wheat lasagna noodles (cook for only 4-5 minutes, then immerse in cold water, they'll finish cooking in the crock pot)
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic gloves, minced
1 large jar/can spaghetti sauce (whichever is your favorite, we usually use some type of garden veggie sauce)
1 cup water
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
1 tsp salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 Tbsp dried oregano (or Italian seasoning)
4 cups (16 oz) shredded mozzarella cheese
1 1/2 cups (12 oz) small-curd cottage cheese (or 3/4 c. cottage
cheese & 3/4 c. ricotta)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a skillet, cook onion and garlic over medium heat until onion is tender and translucent. Add the tomato sauce, water, tomato paste and salt; mix well. Spread a fourth of the sauce in your prepared dish. Arrange a third of the noodles over sauce (cut/tear the noodles if necessary). Combine the cheeses, oregano, and eggs; spoon a third of the mixture over noodles. Repeat layers twice. Top with remaining sauce. cover with foil and place in freezer overnight. In the morning remove foil covered lasagna from dish, place in a freezer Ziploc bag, label, and return to freezer.

The morning you want lasagna for dinner: Remove foil from lasagna and place the lasagna in the crock-pot (completely frozen). Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until noodles are tender.

Serves 6-8 (5 quart Crock pot)

I normally use this same recipe (or some variation) but place it in 2 or even three containers, with fewer layers, since I'm only feeding 3 people and I use a 3 1/2 qt crock pot. In the small crock pot this lasagna defrosts and cooks in about 5 hours on Low.

Related Posts:
Jambalya for $3.82
Easy Hamburger-Vegetable Soup for $4.41
Cream Cheese Chicken Soup
Chunky Crock Pot Applesauce
Oatmeal Pancakes
Crock Pot Tacos
Summer Squash Soup
Whole Wheat Pitas

This post also contributed to Kitchen Tip Tuesday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, & Tasty Tuesday.

Try this general concept with your favorite lasagna recipe. I'd love to hear about your results.



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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Etsy Shop Showcase ~ My Sweet Punkin Patch

I recently had the pleasure of ordering a pouch style sling from Brook, the owner of My Sweet Punkin Patch. Brook is a stay-at-home mom to 5 children, ages 8, 5, 3, 2, and 6 months. She wants to encourage parents to expererience the joys of carrying their babies close to their hearts.


The pouch sling sizing is based on a simple measurement from your shoulder to the opposite hip. This custom made sling is comfortable and easy to use since there are no buckles or rings to adjust. There are also many fabric options and the prices are very reasonable starting at $25. Finally, the slings are easy to care for and can simply be thrown in the wash with the rest of the laundry.

It's amazing how easy a pouch sling is to use. You simply put your head and one arm through the opening and then place the baby or toddler in the pouch created by the folded fabric. Slings are great to use around the house or while out and about. It's also nice to be able to nurse a little one and then let them sleep in the sling without having to disturb them. I would definitely recommend a pouch sling to new babywearers.

Our new sling arrived promptly, neatly ironed and folded. The fabric is a pretty pink and tan floral print stretch poplin. It is lined in pale pink stretch poplin. The added stretch of the fabric makes this sling extremely comfortable.

As with our other slings, Jonathan prefers to sit slightly upright, tummy-to-tummy. This sling also provides plenty of room for nursing. So far, I've really enjoyed this sling.

Here are a some more of my favorite things from My Sweet Punkin Patch.

Click on the photo to view each listing or simply browse the entire shop.



If you make a purchase, please let Brook know that you found out about the shop at A Heart For Home.

Interested in having your shop featured in our Etsy Shop Showcase? Leave me a comment & find out more here. Do you have products that you'd like me to do a review for, but don't sell on Etsy? Just leave me a comment with your e-mail address & I'll contact you about doing a review.

Also, view all of our Etsy Shop Showcases listed under the Review tab.

What types of reviews would you like to see? I'd greatly appreciate your ideas, so please leave me a comment.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Free Candy Math PDF eBook

The Homeschool Freebie of the Day is this great little eBook. As with all the Homeschool Freebies, this is available today only, so hurry on over to Homeschool Freebie of the Day to download your free copy. (You don't have to homeschool to receive this download, it would also be a great tool to help your children review or to use during the summer to help prepare them for the math concepts being taught the following year.)


"This little guide is SO much fun! It shows you how you can make basic, “hands on” math lessons a true delight for your little ones by using inexpensive candy (or even breakfast cereal) as math manipulatives to teach primary age children almost any basic math concept. There is a natural attraction and fascination for children in playing with (and learningfrom) candy. Just the novelty of candy being part of a lesson (not to mention eating it at the end of the lesson) is enough to hold the attention of most children.The examples in this short ebook will give you almost two dozen creative learning games, lesson plans and activities, with examples to get you started teaching: SKIP COUNTING * ODD AND EVEN * GROUPING * GREATER THAN, LESS THAN, EQUAL TO * MEASUREMENT * ADDITION * SUBTRACTION * MULTIPLICATION * DIVISION * FRACTIONS * GRAPHS * ESTIMATING * MAKING SETS … and more!"

It Works for Me!

Related Posts:
Getting Your Toddler to Clean the Toilet
Footprint Snowmen
Involving Our Children

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Getting Your Toddler To Clean The Toilet

Yes it can be done. Here's how:


Use baking soda to wash your hair.

Let toddler see you fill a dish with baking soda before taking a shower.

Allow dish to become empty.

Leave toddler alone for 45 seconds or less.

Discover toddler with baking soda box.

Walk toddler into kitchen.

Put baking soda away.

Train toddler not to take things out of cabinets.

Wait 10 minutes.

Take toddler to the potty.

Notice hair washing baking soda dish on bathroom floor.

Notice pile of baking soda in and around dish.

Notice toddler finger prints in baking soda.

Clean up baking soda.

Place in hair washing baking soda dish (no need to waste, this is for your hair, not for eating.)

Sweep up remaining baking soda.

Go to throw it away, remember that baking soda & vinegar can be used to clean toilets.

Pour swept up baking soda into toilet.

Walk to the kitchen to get vinegar.

Come back to the bathroom as toddler pours the entire contents of the now full, hair washing baking soda dish into the toilet.

Try not to laugh (or cry).

Pour vinegar into toilet.

Stand with toddler and watch it fizz.

Grab the phone to call your mom & tell her about her grandchild's baking soda adventure.

Turn back around to see toddler holding the toilet bowl brush.

Watch toddler stir the water like her favorite pancake mix.

Grab a camera.

Take a picture.

Smile.

Wash that toddler's hands.




Now if you could only get that toddler to clean the tub and mop the floor :)
Hey, it Works For Me!

Related Posts:
Involving Our Children
Tackle-It Tuesday ~ An Organized Craft Space



For more housework tackles visit 5 Minutes for Mom.


How do you get your children to help around the house? Do you give specific chores, expect them to help in all your everyday tasks, or both? I'd love your input. Thanks!

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Footprint Snowmen

The kids made these over the weekend with their Aunt Cheryl. They are absolutely adorable and very easy to make.
Supplies:
White washable paint
Paintbrush
Dark colored paper
Paints, markers, or crayons in various colors

1. Paint your child's foot with white paint.

2. Have them step onto a dark colored piece of construction paper.

3. Wipe their foot clean and repeat with the other foot.

4. Allow foot prints to dry then decorate your snowmen with paint, markers, or crayons.

For older children you can pour the paint into a tray or shallow dish for them to step into before stepping onto their paper. Make sure you help children balance while they step into the slippery paint.

We hope you enjoy your own footprint snowmen.

Also check out our Recycled Magazine Gift Bow tutorial.

Do you have a simple winter craft to share? Leave a comment telling us all about it.

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Some Great Giveaways

Head over to $5 Dinners for a chance to win one of these brand new designer lunch totes from Spring Los Angeles. Contest ends Wednesday, January 14th at 5 pm EST.





Check out Life As Mom to enter to win the Niki Receiving Blanket from Spunky Sprout. Giveaway closes at midnight (PST) tonight (Monday, January, 12th, 2009).











Visit Passionate Homemaking for information about winning a free copy of Prac­tic­ing Hos­pi­tal­ity: The Joy of Serv­ing Others by Pat Ennis & Lisa
Tat­lock. Give­away ends Friday, Jan­u­ary 16, at 5:00 pm PST.






Head on over to The Soothie Ranch for your chance to win an adorable Long Sleeve T-Shirt and Pair of Pants in your choice of size from Babes In Black! Giveaway is open to everyone, and will close midnight Jan. 18th, 2009 MST.









Are you having a giveaway on your blog? Have you come across other great giveaways? Leave a comment with a link so we can check it out.

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