Friday, June 27, 2014

A Shoebox filled with Love

Pinterest is filling up with awesome ideas for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes sponsored by Samaritans Purse.  We participate in this ministry every year and have lots of fun planning, purchasing for, and fillingstuffing, cramming our boxes full of goodies for children.
Here are some universal boy/girl suggestions for every box ~ necessities that we take for granted but are precious to children without these items ~
*toothbrush/toothpaste ~ Dollar tree takes coupons now so you could match up your toothpaste coupon with the equivilant Dollar tree size and get it for really cheap.  Otherwise the least expensive place we have found is Walmart.  I get all the toothbrushes at Dollar Tree ~ 4 or more in a pack for $1, and I try to get the ones with a cover on them.
*comb ~ or more than one ~ you can get a lg. pack at Dollar Tree
*washcloth/soap ~ if you travel, you can collect the ones from your hotels, tuck 2 or 3 into a ziplock baggie with the washcloth.  One year we got ambitious and crocheted the washcloths.  Usually, we buy a big pack at Walmart ~ 10 or 12 for $3 or so.
*t shirt ~ look for clearance carts where you shop, we have found some for .25 before!
*socks ~ a big pack of white athletic socks from Walmart can be split between several boxes...their back to school sale is a good time for that purchase.  Dollar Tree has some cute print girlie socks that we like also.  Usually come in 2 pair packs.
*notebook/pencils ~ a basic, across the board school the back to school sales.  Sometimes you can get pencils for .01 a pack at Staples or Office Depot.  Spiral Notebooks are often on sale for .10 or .15 at Walmart or Target.  Add in a pencil sharpener too!
*crayons/markers ~ again, back to school sales...we can find 24 ct. crayons for .20 at Walmart.  Watch the ads for the good sales.
*tote bag/backpack ~ this needs to be an easy to pack, lightweight, not bulky bag or pack. There are lots of free tutorials/patterns on the internet.  Here is a link to one I found ~ 
*cup/utensils ~ I heard about the cup idea last year...why did I never think of this before?  All my boxes will have cups now!  Dollar Tree & Walmart are a good place for these.  Or, you could use those plastic cups you get at restaraunts ~ we've got lots of those.  Reusable plastic forks & spoons would be great to include also.
*flip flops/shoes ~ again ~ Dollar Tree
*activity books ~ word search, coloring, matching, etc ~ we found a cart at a local store that had these type books for .25.  I bought a lot!
*Stuffed Animal/doll/lovey ~ after holiday sales are great for these ~ we've done bunnies, gingerbread dolls, baby dolls, etc.  Anyone still have 10 zillion beany babies still in packages?  We've included them also.  Lots of patterns available for free online for dolls & clothes.
You can buy multiple items in a pack and split them up between several boxes. 
We plan for this all year long ~ pretty much as soon as we drop off our boxes, we start shopping for the next year.  If you set aside X amount of dollars every month specifically for this ministry, you will have quite a collection of goodies & even some freebies by the time shoebox time rolls around the following November.  We do shopping monthly for our boxes, but always need to do a last minute run to the store for a forgotten item ~ one year we forgot to buy toothpaste!  Look everywhere, in clearance bins for stuff ~ we found the rubber band bracelet packs at the grocery store last year for .25 and then they went to .10.  The clearance bins in the front of Michaels are good sources of items too.  Watch for the Target Dollar Spot items to go 1/2 price or lower.
If you don't want to pack a box ~ you can donate items to a church that participates in this ministry or donate directly to Operation Christmas Child to either help pack boxes or ship the boxes overseas.
Items NOT to include in any boxes ~
food (hard candy or tootsie rolls are ok)
war toys (no soldiers, tanks, toy guns, etc)
knives (scissors are ok in the age 10-14 older child boxes)
Used items
If you are on Pinterest ~ look for boards entitled Operation Christmas Child or Shoebox gifts.  People have come up with some wonderfully creative ideas and share with everyone!  Some share how they coupon to get their items for free or almost free. 
There are many testimonials of children who receive these boxes and its the exact item that they needed ~ socks or a pair of shoes.  Items we take for granted are treasured by others.
Dominika was raised in Slovakia, and her family was very poor. When she was four years old, her father left them, and her mother had no money to buy gifts for Christmas. That year, Dominika received a shoe box gift from Operation Christmas Child. For the first time, as she read the note in her box talking about Jesus' love, she felt that someone loved her. ~ And this is why we pack them!  I love to hear the stories of how these shoeboxes impacted the lives of children ~  Thank you Lord!
Operation Christmas Child
Next time ~ what to pack in girl boxes ~ in addition to the items listed above!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Free Printable

I've found lots of freebies on Pinterest to use ~

This one would be cute to use in a bridal shower or wedding card ~

So cute! Read closely. :) Nutrition Facts for love free printable.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

More Busy

Finished the Baby quilt
Almost finished a wall hanging (have to tack the binding on the back)
Mended 3 skirts
Hemmed a pair of dress pants
Started cutting out Hexagons for a quilt ~ cut out 42 pieces so far
Pinned a bunch of stuff
worked on my needlepoint project
Texted with Greg & Amy
Talked to Will & Mom
Found out 2 of my kids got new jobs (doin' the happy mama dance)
Cared for all the animals
worked on ceramics projects
Watched James recuperate
The Vignette Hexagon Quilt ~ gotta take the time to figure this all out ~ I want to make a hexagon something....
I love this!  My flower centers are bright yellow & the petals will be calico prints.

Hexagon templates--just in case I ever have the urge to drive myself batty...which i have been known to do!
This is the template I am using for the hexagons.  I am cutting them 2.5 and the finished hexie will be 2 in.

I have no idea what I am going to make with the hexagon flowers ~ I do know that the 6 centers and 36 petals I have cut out won't make a big anything.  More cutting later!  And I want to put one together to see how I like it.  ALL of my pieces are coming from my scrap tote ~ so its a free project ~ so far!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Keeping Busy

Yesterday I ~

Prayed for these guys & sent/received lots of texts

Prayed for this guy & learned he is having a GREAT time in Haiti

worked on this quilt

canned 7 quarts of Crowder Peas
Used this stencil set to stencil my bird house for the fair

Ate at Chick Fil A for dinner with Angel & Lauren & brought my big kid back a kids meal!

painted on my ceramics projects

The painting and stenciling was done in the kitchen while the crowder peas were in the pressure canner.  Once they were done, and the pressure came down ~ I took them out and headed up stairs to start sewing. 
I am also figuring out how any more 10 pound bags of frozen vegies I need to get to last a year.  10 pounds of crowder peas or lady peas fills 7 quart size jars.  After filling the jars, there is enough left over in the bag for dinner that night.  If we ate 1 jar of either beans a week ~  the 14 jars would last 14 weeks.  10 more pounds of each would get us to 28 weeks.  30 more pounds of each would get us the whole year.  We buy our vegies from some folks Greg has known for years and they only operate their sales during the spring/summer/early fall ~ so that's why I am trying to decide.  I've also gotta get more green beans to can.
Today I am going to work on my quilt.  And maybe venture into the world of hexagons for a new quilt. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

When being a Mom is HARD!

Being a mom is hard work.  And it doesn't really matter how old your kids are, they are still your kids, and its still hard work.  You have to make tough decisions.  You have to make choices that affect everyone.  And its very tough being put in the position by unforeseen circumstances that force you to make the only "right" decision.  Making the "right" decision doesn't make it any easier to bear or cope with.

I had to ultimately make the final decision on whether or not to go on a much anticipated mission trip.  A trip with a bunch of friends that I only see once a year, and serve with Greg and Amy.  After much prayer and many tears, I made the Mom choice and stayed home. 

But making that choice was tough.  It was right, but it was tough.

James had oral surgery last week.  He had an abscess in his jaw where the upper and lower hinge together.  The surgery left him with 2 drainage tubes and an extremely sore mouth.  He got to come home yesterday minus the tubes.  Yay! 

So we are sitting here eating soft foods and watching the World Cup ~ well, its been on and I kinda watch while I cross stitch or something.

I get updates from our mission team ~ which is good and bad.  I want to know what is going on but then it reminds me what I am missing too.

But if I was there, I would be wondering about James & worrying.

There just really isn't a "happy place" in this situation.

Praying for my family as they serve the Lord and each other and very thankful the surgery is over and James is home.

And thankful for Amy Kate and Andy for coming up to keep me company, run errands, and take care of stuff at home ~ you guys were awesome!

Friday, June 20, 2014

What to Take while you Wait

What to take while you wait at the hospital ~

something to do ~ cross stitch, crochet, read
something to drink ~ vending machines/cafeteria's are pricey
something to eat ~ again, pricey
A reader device with a fully charged battery
A phone with a fully charged battery
A charger ~ to charge the 2 above when they die
a jacket/sweater ~ most rooms are cool

James has been in & out of doctors offices and hospitals over the last 2 weeks.  There has been a lot of waiting by his mom.  Yesterday he had oral surgery to take care of an abscess in his jaw bone and hopefully will be released Sat. or Sun.

Besides my stuff to pack for the day ~ he requested that I bring sweet tea & koolaid for him to drink.  So my tote bag just got heavier!

Very thankful for successful surgery, modern medicine, access to the internet at the hospital, nice nurses, a somewhat comfy place to sit ~ while I wait!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Fathers Day Fun

Andy and Amy came up on Friday for a weekend of crafting fun & celebrating Fathers Day!  Yesterday was a fun day, celebrating the best daddy ~

Andy, Amy Kate, Greg, Amy Lynn, James

Belk bought some ugly jackets!

Brusters Ice Cream for a special treat!

Key Lime Pie!

They DID share!
Ice Cream & Pie are NOT carb free....but they sure were tasty!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Happy Fathers Day

Happy Fathers Day to my awesome husband Greg!
You are a wonderful husband to me & a great Dad to our children.
You keep things exciting in our home.
You come up with inventive projects for home improvements.
You listen to our children and try to guide them down the right paths.
You are an expert griller/smoker!
You are a great provider!
You are a talented artist & wood worker!
You indulge my trips to JoAnns & Hobby Lobby!
You budget our money to awesome vacations & excursions.
You are a great example of  a Christian husband & father for our sons, son in law to follow.
You have a wacky sense of humor!
You love to try new things.
You LOVE being a Grandpa ~ these little boys are blessed to have you.
You search the scriptures for truth & don't just assume what you hear from anyone is correct.
You are a leader in our church!
You have a beautiful bass voice & I love being in choir with you.
You are a blessing to me!
I love you!
You take me to the beach even though you hate sand!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


Yucky rock cement porch ~

to brick tiled porch ~ much easier on bare feet ~ Gregs summer project

Our new porch swing~

Happy plants

my Mothers Day table umbrella ~ Gregs hubcap flowers on the outside of the fireplace

retiled table for back porch

Our colorful lizard friend

happy tomato plants

My surprise summer "happy" from Angel ~ chicken glass mugs~  love them for my tea~

Monday, June 9, 2014


Our Sweet little Tapley friends had their ballet recital on Saturday ~

Lauren decided that standing on her "spot" on stage was better than doing the dance

all m ballerina's~ Sara, Amy, Lauren & Ragen!

Friday, June 6, 2014

To Brighten Your Day ~

We all have those days.
Some days just call for this extreme reaction!
I suspect there are, me, me~A curious fact to share in a science class in the near future.Let it be known: I was crafty and domestic BEFORE Pinterest!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Cute Cross Stitch Patterns from Pinterest Boards

Cross Stitch World
I also downloaded the Faith & Hope patterns to do with this and make all 3 into a wall hanging. / Фото #138 - совушки - irisha-ira
Patrones punto de cruz (solo country) (pág. 24) | Aprender manualidades es
I love sunflowers!
these little ladies would be cute cross stitched on a kitchen towel!
I love chickens too!  These would be cute on a kitchen towel!
Despicable Me Minion Alphabet pattern -
Ya never know when a Minion alphabet could come in handy!


Tuesday, June 3, 2014


Sunday lunch was grilled steaks, baked potatoes
Dinner was Taco Salad

Monday ~ red beans & rice with sausage (haven't had in 11 months - it was tasty)

Tuesday ~ chicken & dumplings (low carb tortillas for dumplings), cooked broccoli

Wed. ~ pirate stew in the crockpot

Thursday ~ Fish, broccoli salad

Friday ~ pizzas, leftover broccoli salad

Saturday ~ grilled hamburgers, sides

This week we are looking for easy to fix, eat, & clean up meals since we have VBS every night.  Greg picked the red beans & rice and the pirate stew since we haven't had them in so long!  And we needed to add some variety into our menus! 

Monday, June 2, 2014


This is Vacation Bible School (VBS) week at our church.  Amy is helping lead the music and caretaker of a group of preschoolers.  It is still weird for her to drive off in her car alone, but it sure is helpful since she has to be at the church 45 minutes to an hour before Greg and I have to be there.

In past years, we've cooked dinners for all the kids and adults every night.  While that is a great advantage for working parents, it just wasn't feasible for this year.  And we did note that most of the kids in a large group setting just picked at their food & fooled around and didn't consume the meal.  Lots of food was tossed.  And these were very kid friendly meals ~ chicken strips/fries, spaghetti, hot dogs/chips, etc. I guess its more fun to talk/visit, instead of eat dinner. This year, we are just doing Snocones & cookies for snack.  With the temps hovering near 90 (when its not raining) the cold snocones are a treat.

We also set up a break room for the teachers with treats just for them ~ and a cooler filled with ice, water, and soft drinks.  While their kids are at games and being supervised, they can take a break and get their own treat!  Church members donated home baked goods & prepackaged snacks for the volunteers.

The Theme this year is "International Spy Academy" that is published by Answers in Genesis.  All of the crafts/games/stories/songs relate to the theme and teach the children about searching out the One True God.  We've got 80+ little spies all over the church ~ focusing their fun & efforts on learning about the Lord.