Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Last night, Bauer enjoyed an entire jar of pureed green beans (as well as a jar of pears). Today, I am hating cloth diapers. I wish I had a stronger constitution, a pioneer spirit, what have you. But I have to admit, it is hard to stick to cloth, especially after a day of green beans, when I have disposables just a few steps away in a cabinet.

At the Brighter Day Natural Foods in Savannah, Stacy and I were looking at something called a G-diaper. It seems to be a happy medium between disposable and cloth. Cloth diapers with a disposable insert that is plastic free and can be either composted, flushed, or thrown away.

Now obviously, it requires more energy and materials to make something disposable over something you use again and again...but, it isn't clogging a landfill and is completely bio-degradable. I admit, I am thinking about trying them. What if I used the cloth diapers after my child had just had a dirty diaper (when I am relatively sure the next one will just be wet) and the g-diapers the rest of the time? Has anyone tried these? I would love to hear what ya'll think about them. Cop out or world's greatest invention? Would any of you disposable diaper people be willing to give these a try?

*Image from brionius on

I am having Christmas gift angst. Not really, but I would like your input. I am trying to finish up my gift list. I want to have a gift on hand for neighbors, friends that drop by, Matt's co-workers etc. It must meet several criteria.
-Must be easily mass produced
-Must be inexpensive
-Must be enjoyed by different people (age groups, gender, etc)
-Must be enjoyable to make and package

So, keeping that in mind, would you please answer the little poll I have created (to the left of this post)? I would really appreciate your input. I know that I would really love homemade laundry detergent, but I understand that not everyone would find that exciting. That's why I want your opinion. What's in it for you? Well, if you live nearby (or visit me around the holidays), you will probably be one of the recipients of said gift!

If you have another idea for a gift that meets the above criteria, please leave me a comment. I welcome suggestions! Thanks!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


This past week-end, my friend Stacy, and I took a much anticipated girls week-end to Savannah, GA. Saying that it was much anticipated is probably a bit of an understatement. The two of us sported ear-to-ear grins for about four days prior to the trip and our text messages pretty much consisted of "only 127 hours, 22 minutes until our trip!" and so on. We took a similar trip a few years ago, when I was very pregnant with Landing. It was a fabulous spa trip to Orlando and we fully anticipated this trip being just as great. Oh, and it was.

We have a few more children this time around (last trip, we only had Caed. We have had three more boys between us, since then, and another baby on the way! Yes, we REALLY needed this little getaway!). So, after Stacy got off work, we headed down to Savannah. First stop? Target, to pick up our $20 in Method products, so we could get our cool reusable grocery bag. Stacy, being the organized, teacher person that she is, already had our forms filled out, envelopes stamped and addressed...they were ready to be mailed off before we pulled out of the Target parking lot. She's a woman after my own heart. :)

Then, we headed downtown to W Liberty Street, to our very favorite restaurant, Mellow Mushroom. This is a great place to people watch. There are all kinds here...SCAD students, families with children, tourists. Lots of fun. I especially love looking at all the waitresses...ours had blonde dreads, tied up in a knot, and all kinds of piercings and tattoos. She was very sweet and seemed very interesting...she looked like she had a story. :)
I ordered my very favorite spinach salad. Man, it was good. And of course, the garlic pretzels, which are to die for.
Then we headed across the river, to the Westin. I love staying at the Westin, just because of their amazing beds (and shower heads). They are sooo comfy. On the bed was this card.I love to see companies taking these simple steps to reduce our waste.

After taking a few moments to put our bags in the room and nurse Bauer, we took the ferry across the river to snag some pralines from River Street Sweets. It is always fun to go down to River Street. We stayed a few moments to peek into some shops, listen to the old man belting out some tunes on the trumpet (the Gilligan's Island and Star Wars theme songs were his favorite!), and make small talk with some women admiring B in his wrap, we headed back to the room and those great feather beds.

We spent the day Saturday stopping in many of the shops that line Broughton, Bay, and Abercorn Streets. One really great little shop was the Paris Market and Brocante, which is featured in Southern Living Magazine this month. I love to walk around downtown Savannah. There are so many interesting and ecclectic people to watch. Cute girls on bikes, such as this one, were everywhere.There were lots of bicycles outside of the Brighter Day Natural Foods Store.
Driving down E Liberty street, we spotted this adorable market, and of course, had to go in. It was very similar to our produce stand in town, but with better ambiance. It was really sweet!
Look how cute the lights are, covered with these apple baskets. And all the paper lanterns and twinkly lights!This sweet little market, as well as the bulk bins at the Brighter Day store, were definitely the highlights of the week-end for me.

The whole week-end was so relaxing and restorative. It was so nice to spend some time with Stacy, one on one, without juggling multiple children at the same time! We have an easy friendship...just as comfortable with talking as with silence...and it was great to spend a beautiful week-end with her, taking in the sights. We both give a hearty "thank you!" to our husbands, who financed our little getaway, and and kept the kiddos while we were gone (as well as my parents and inlaws, who kept my children Friday night, while Matt had football). We think this should be a monthly thing...what do you think, guys? :)

Sunday afternoon was absolutely beautiful. We didn't go to church because Landing had hand, foot, and mouth. So that afternoon, the boys and I took a walk around the neighborhood, picking up litter and recyclables. Near the end of our walk, we encountered a young couple walking their dog. As the boys petted the dog, the woman looked back and forth from the boy's bags of trash, to me, back to them. "Are your boys picking up TRASH?!", she asked me, incredulously. Before I could answer, Caed replied "Yes, we are picking up trash and taking it to the recycling center. We have to pick it up to take care of God's world. People shouldn't throw trash on the ground."

She looked at him, surprised, then hit her hubby/boyfriend on the arm and said "Awww! We should be doing that!!"
Nothing like the innocent forth-rightness of a child to get the message across.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


I am REALLY love, love, loving these shoes. Aren't they sooooo cute? Wouldn't I look adorable in them? Wouldn't they go great with everything? Don't you think I NEED them? You do? Ok, I am a size 8.5. My anniversary is in December. My birthday is in April...but it's my half birthday this month! You can send them here. :)
I love them in every color, especially the burnt brick...and the navy...and the dark earth...and the chocolate...

Plus, they are very eco-chic. The soles are made of recycled rubber tires. Hemp edging. Bamboo inside. They are seriously cool. :::Sigh:::
I have been waaaaayyyy behind on my blogging this week. I have so many thoughts and ideas, rolling around in my head, just BEGGING to get out...alas, I have been long on ideas, short on time. I am not sure why I have been having such a hard time staying on top of things lately, and really, I don't have time to sit and analyze it. :)

So, now I finally have a few minutes, and must choose one of the many topics in my head to blog about (and can I just give a quick little shout out to this beautiful day? Seriously, it is amazing). The obvious choice, given the date, is the social experiment. Yes, today marks the end of my two month long experiment!

It has been two full months since I have shopped in any chain/corporate store. No Wal.Mart, Bi.Lo, or Harvey's. All of our food (other than eating out, and even then, it was mostly local) was purchased from independently owned, local stores. When I had the choice, the foods that I purchased were locally, or at least regionally, grown.

Before starting the experiment, I spent an average of $100 a week on food and household items. During the experiment, I averaged less than $60 a week, even with two birthday parties thrown in. All of the anticipated "Pros" of the experiment were realized. I became more intentional about the foods that I fed my family. I became more deliberate about my purchases and wasting food. I became more aware of where my food was from, how it got to me, who was impacted in the growing, delivering, and selling of it. I supported the local business owners, and began to build relationships (the owners grand daughter at the produce stand, knows each of my children by name). Shopping has become a much more enjoyable experience. In fact, until the experiment, I avoided taking my children shopping with me at all costs because it was so stressful. I have taken my children with me the last four weeks to IGA, Discount Foods, and the produce stand. It was great! Easy to get in and out, employees are kind to my children, fewer cases of the "gimmies" because there isn't lots of junk and cleverly marketed items to entice my children. As a result, they are learning lots of important things about commerce, relationships, jobs, ethics, frugality, etc.

As for the list of anticipated "Cons", many of the problems I expected to encounter simply were not an issue. Obviously, the biggest being the amount of money saved. That truly has been the most surprising outcome of this experiment. I fully expected to spend $25-$30 more a week, by not shopping at Wal.Mart. I was shocked to find that I was spending $40+ less a week. Fewer packaged foods and impulse purchases led to a sharp decrease in spending.

It was also less time consuming. While the stores that I now shop in are farther away, I am more intentional about going and usually incorporate a visit to my friend Stacy's or the hubby's parents while we are there (both are on the way). I shop one morning or afternoon a week. No more "quick trips" into the store because I forgot something. If I don't have something now, I usually do without or find a substitute. That has made me a lot more creative in the kitchen!

I had also listed "being unable to rely on quick-fix junk meals and having to plan ahead" as a con, but it is easy to see that it is much better to plan ahead and to cook healthy meals!

The only other con on the list was "being unable to find some items (such as most dairy). That was true, for the first several weeks. However, once I discovered that IGA was locally owned, that was pretty much a non issue. IGA carried most items that I could need.

So, now what? Will I continue to shop locally or will I go back to my old habits? Will I shop mostly locally with the occasional wal.mart trip thrown in? I will admit, there were times that it was a real challenge to make myself drive to IGA, which is 20 minutes away, instead of Harvey's, which is less than a mile. There were times (albeit infrequently) when at bedtime, I realized that we had no milk, cereal, eggs, etc. for breakfast. It would have been really nice to just run over to the store nearby. However, if I had planned more carefully, that situation wouldn't even have arisen.

For several weeks, I have been thinking about what I would do when the experiment ended. I am very much an all or nothing person. If I start going again at all, it will be very difficult for me to not fall into old habits. And truly, I am so much happier with the way things have been these last two months. More money, more time, more connection to community, more creativity...I don't want to give those things away by shopping at Wal.Mart. So, yes, I plan to continue to shop local, independent stores. Exceptions? When I am out of town, or when it causes others to be inconvenienced.

For the record, I would just like to say that I do not think that Wal.Mart or other chain stores are evil. I am not critical of others that choose to shop at Wal.mart. Obviously, Wal.Mart has been successful for a reason. However, this experiment has had a radical effect on many aspects of my life. It has caused me to think about things that I had never considered before and has opened my eyes to new issues that I haven't even begun to explore. It exposed prejudices, incorrect ideology, and criticisms in my own mind that had to be examined. It showed me flaws in my character. It made me rethink a lot of what I do, why I do it, and what I believe. It made me ask myself all kinds of questions such as "Am I willing to do what is inconvenient, if I truly believe it is better?" "Where does my meat come from? How is it killed? Are the animals killed in an unneccessarily cruel way? If I expect that they are, do I have an obligation not to buy the meat?" "Is it better for me to support an independent business owner far away, or a corporation (that provides jobs and revenue to our local economy) that is local?"

As a result of the experiment, and questioning my principles, I no longer use any paper products except for toilet paper. I am switching from plastic to glass and metal in my home, as much as possible. I am making my own cleaning products and detergents. I am searching out local farmers, coops, farmers markets. I am cloth diapering. I am considering giving up factory-farmed meats. I plan to begin gardening and canning more of my foods. I bring my own bags to the store every time (instead of hit or miss, like before). And many other things. Does doing these things make me superior? Absolutely not. Are they the only right way to do things? No way. But for me, where I am, with what I have been given, it is the best way, right now. I am learning to live a more thoughtful, intentional, deliberate life. Desiring to honor God, even in the most mundane, quotidian events of my daily life. Searching. Challenging myself. It has been an eye opening experience. I am very different than I was two months ago. Just ask my husband. :)

Who would have thought all this would come from eliminating Wal.Mart from my life?

*Image from largeheartedboy on

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


I know I haven't posted my redecorating before and after from yesterday. I did it the project, but just didn't get a chance to upload the pics and post them (Monday is cleaning day and then date night, so I was pretty busy yesterday). I will post yesterday's and today's in a bit. In the meantime, I just read an interesting article that I found via No Impact Man. Wal.Mart actually FAILED in Germany because people are so thrifty and frugal. You have to love that!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

WEEK OF REDECORATING, TAKE TWO I had intended to have a week of redecorating challenges a few weeks ago, but it never seemed to get off the ground. Remember my screened porch project? Yeah...

I am going to start over this week. My plan? To make one change/decorate/redecorate around my home, each day this week. I will only use materials and items that I already have around our house or yard. I will post before and after pics each day. The goal is to take an active role in making my home more beautiful, using small babysteps. I will post before and after pictures of each little project. Also, the flylady zone this week is the master bedroom, so I will be devoting special attention to cleaning this area of my home.

Here is a tentative list of projects that I would like to work on. Obviously, I won't get to them all this week.
-Decorate mantel for fall
-Paint chalkboard for Laundry room
-Spray paint baskets and find uses for them around house
-Finish organizing porch
-Move bench/table in front of fence, plant pots w/ flowers
-Clean off dining table, add tablecloth and centerpiece
-Paint boys beds
-Declutter and reorganize kitchen countertops
-Organize cabinet in bathroom (picture above), paint back of cabinet...maybe the pale blue of the boys beds? Or yellow might be cute.
-Hang bamboo curtain rods, make and hang curtains in living/dining room
-Clean up the yard. Pick up toys, take old strollers to Goodwill, etc.

Also, other projects I would like to tackle this week.
-Make and can pasta sauce
-Make produce bags out of old sheets

Method and Danny Seo have teamed up to create this really cool, reusable shopping bag. The best part? You can get one for free! Keep your receipts for all the Method products you purchase, and once you have spent $20, fill out the form and send it in with your receipts. They will send you this awesome bag! But hurry, it is while supplies last!

Friday, October 19, 2007


The motherload of all amazing things happened yesterday afternoon. You have probably read (in previous posts) about the two things that caused the miracle I am about to tell you of: 1. watching less TV, and 2. putting books in a basket on the ottoman.

Ok, so it was late yesterday afternoon and I decided to turn on a cartoon for the two older boys to watch while I nursed the baby. The TV hadn't been on for 3-4 days, so I thought they would be really excited to watch something. I turned on Sesame Street, then left the room to feed the baby. I came back a few minutes later...the TV had been turned off, and both boys were sitting on the couch, reading books!!!!! I know, I couldn't believe it either!!!

Seriously, my boys had TURNED OFF THE TV so they could READ BOOKS INSTEAD!!!! It's the big one, Elizabeth!!! I was speechless! I tell you, after a week of poorly behaved children, coupled with some bad parenting moments, this was such a redemptive moment for me. Woo Hoo for small (or not so small) victories!!

*This image from

Thursday, October 18, 2007


This week's score from the Discount Foods and IGA(actually, this is what I bought on my second trip of the week).
-1 Taco seasoning mix
-1 box of Cheez-its
-1 box of Cereal
-1 bag of 25, whole Cinnamon sticks
-3 rolls of scotch tape (Christmas presents to wrap!)
-1 bottle organic almond extract
-1 bottle whole nutmegs (these will last YEARS!)
-1 bottle laundry detergent (until I can buy washing soda and make my own)
-1 box of Borax (for homemade laundry detergent and other home cleaners)
-5 boxes of brown sugar
-2 pounds of butter

5 boxes of sugar? 2 pounds of butter? Well, the brown sugar and butter, as well as all those spices, are being squirrelled away for Thanksgiving and Christmas cooking in the next two months. The sugar and butter were on sale at the IGA, so I stocked up. I have learned to grab things when you find them at the Discount Foods, because you don't know when they will be there again. I was able to get 25 cinnamon sticks for $2. That seemed like a pretty good deal to me. If I remember correctly, cinnamon sticks can be pretty pricey. Kuddos to my little man, Caed, for spotting the lone bag of cinnamon sticks! Good eye, Caed, good eye.

I spent a lot this week...between buying bottles and bottles of gatorade, lipton noodle soup and saltines for a sick hubby, and stocking up for holiday baking, I am now over my budget for the month, with one week still to go. I spent $69.24 this week and $211.30 for the month so far. I will probably come in about where I did last month. That's ok. You win some, you lose some.
I actually feel pretty darn good about the month anyway, considering that I was able to throw two birthday parties on that budget. Landing's party was sort of a potluck family party, so that didn't cost me much, but Caed's was dinner for 30, so that cost more. If I subtract out the cost of their birthday parties (about $90), I have only spent about $120 this month, with one week to go.

There is only one thing that I want to buy that I have been unable to find locally. Washing Soda. Not to be confused with baking soda. It is a neccessary ingredient in homemade laundry detergent and is not carried at IGA or Discount Foods. Other than that, everything I have needed for the last seven weeks, has been available locally. Notice I said needed, not wanted. There are things that I like to have, that I have done without. One week left to my social experiment. I am looking forward to next week, when I summarize how the experiment went, what I will do from here on out, and a new challenge for myself, and you, if you would like to join me!
Speaking of challenges, Crunchy Chicken just issued her new challenge. Let me know if you are going to participate. I am still thinking about it...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Today was a hard day. I have been really struggling. Willful children, a house that never seems to quite get clean, lack of personal time/devotions, etc. have left me feeling frazzled. So, I was very thankful for the kindness of two dear people in my life, who made personal sacrifies so that I could get away for a few hours.

Thank you, so, so much to my sweet friend, Stacy, and my dear hubby, Matt, for allowing me a little time to unwind, pray, think, plan, and recharge.
A little puttering in the library, and an hour of quiet in my favorite coffee shop...I feel like a new woman.

Sometimes just the tiniest tweaking of habits can have such a big impact. One thing that I really desire for my children is a love of reading. In a perfect world, I read to my boys every afternoon and evening. In reality, it is very hit or miss.

So last night, I took this Goodwill basket and filled it with several books from their bookshelves in their room, and placed it on the living room ottoman. The books have been pulled out and looked at four or five times already today. We are going to read and have gingersnaps and milk this afternoon. The bookshelves in their room are "out of sight, out of mind" for most of the day, and the sheer volume of books is overwhelming to them. A few well placed books sparked their interest immediately.

Isn't it amazing how sometimes just the smallest change can make such a big difference?

Monday, October 15, 2007


I can get really caught up in statistics (110 Billion plastic bags used in the US each year), horror stories (animals thrown alive into boiling vats of water in slaughterhouses), and other issues. I can get really overwhelmed, trying to figure out what my part is in caring for the environment. I remember reading a passage in Blue Like Jazz (yes, I know I am supposed to underline the title of a book, but I can't get my computer to do it. Sorry, all you english grammar people) that basically said that (we) white, middle class, christan republicans idea of helping the poor is to play in a charity golf tournament...but that isn't what Jesus had in mind when he said to feed the poor. Helping people is messy and complicated and neccessary. I don't even KNOW any poor people. Not one. That bothers me.

I started thinking about that. While I shouldn't ignore what is going on in other parts of the world, in many ways, my impact can be a lot greater (at least at this point in my life, with three small children) if I focus on the people and environment close to home. First, my children and my husband. Secondly, people in our church and neighborhood. Third, the greater community at large. There are people half a block away from me that live under the poverty level. I don't need to go to Africa to find people who are hungry. Here are some ways that I already am or plan to begin to have a positive impact on the environment and community...locally.

-Pray for opportunities to minister to people who are suffering (emotionally, physically, spiritually, etc.). Pray that I will be aware of the people around me and look for ways to serve them.

-Get up early. Have devotions. Focus on my walk with Christ, so I may better serve my husband, teach my children, encourage others.

-Stop being critical of others. Learn to embrace and appreciate different views, ideas, and ways of doing things. Don't have an attitude of superiority

-Be thankful. Have a heart of gratitude. Learn to want less. Live simply. Teach my children to do the same.

-Pick up litter in our neighborhood

-Focus on the other R's. I already recycle...but I need to focus my efforts on reducing and reusing, so that I have less to recycle.

-Encourage the wildlife in our yard. Make birdfeeders, have water available.

-Donate to the foodbank, work at the soup kitchen, Habitat for Humanity, Shoebox ministry, etc.

-Shop locally as much as possible

-Participate in community events (First Friday Downtown, Story hour at the library, etc.)

-Teach my children the importance of caring for the earth and the people around us. Lead by example

-Pay it forward. Simple, random acts of kindness can really brighten someone's day. Smile, hold a door, ask how someone is doing...and then wait for the answer. Buy the meal of the person in line behind me at the drive through.

-Open my home to others. Practice hospitality on a weekly basis.

-Grow my own garden

-Make my own instead of buy, as much as possible. Laundry detergent, cleaners, food, etc.

-Share the bounty with others. Double the recipe and share with the college boys next door (I am sure they miss their mama's cooking!), other neighbors, friends.

Saturday, October 13, 2007


You may remember my post a few months back, angsting about a no-present-or-gift-bag party. Well, apparently, I am not alone in wanting to go counter cultural with children's parties. There is a whole website dedicated to the topic.
There are some crazy stories on there about over the top children's parties. Someone stop the insanity!

These are pictures of my recycling bags. As you can see, my paper/cardboard bag and plastics bag is full to bursting. The metal and glass bags are almost empty. This is about three weeks worth of recycling. While I am pleased that there are only about 5 items in the glass and metal bags, I don't like that my plastics and paper bags are so full, especially the plastic. As you may know, glass and metal can be recycled endless numbers of times, while plastics can only be recycled once, if at all (many plastics can not be recycled).

I really want to reduce the amounts of plastic in my house. As I mentioned in a previous post, I am going to buy Klean Kanteens for the boys, to eliminate the need for plastic sippy cups. My sweet friend, Amanda, bought me these enamelware cups from a thrift store in town. Thank you, Amanda! I already have enamelware plates for the boys, so I can get rid of their plastic plates. I would also like to replace all my plastic storage containers, trash cans, and toys with either wood, glass, metal, wicker, etc. A natural home is a more beautiful home!
One of next week's projects is to make produce bags out of old sheets, so I won't have to use those one-use produce bags anymore. Read this article on the dangers to the environment that plastics cause, as well as how to deplasticize your life (warning: there is a really sad/gross picture at the top of this blog, but it is a good read). Another good post here.
Hopefully, by the next time I am ready to take my recycling off, I will have considerably less plastic.
(our backyard)
Today we had a little family day and went in search of the wooden playfort that we had promised the boys for their birthdays. Earlier this summer, we had priced the playforts at Lowe's. I was really hoping to get a playfort from a local business, but wasn't optimistic that we would find one within our budget. We headed into our local hardware store, which, I am embarrassed to say, I had not visited in probably 15 years, since Lowe's came to town.

It is a great little store! Why have I been shopping at the mega-store all these years? I guess I thought it was easier...and cheaper. Anyway, we went out back, where they had a lovely garden center. Wooden walkways and paths with flower beds, benches, stone fireplaces, and of course, playforts, all around. The boys played in the shade on the playforts for almost an hour, while I sat on the bench, watching them, with baby B. The Hubby crunched numbers with the helpful salesmen. Yes, they said, we could add the rock wall...and the baby swing...the the longer slide...yes, they deliver...yes, they can set it up for us.

Even with delivery and setting it up for us, the local hardware store came in over $300 UNDER Lowe's! I am beginning to think this whole concept of 'local is more expensive' is just an urban legend. Because in almost two months of only shopping locally, 4 out of 5 times, local has been cheaper. And the few times it hasn't been cheaper, it has still been worth the extra cost because of the personal service I have received, ease of using the stores (much easier to get in and out of small stores w/ children), and general satisfaction.

One of the benches I saw at the hardware store was exactly what I would like to have for the screened porch (remember my inspiration picture?). A very simple wooden bench with straight lines. The best part is that the seat lifts up to reveal a big storage area, which would be great to store all the outdoor toys in. I hope the hubby gets it for me with the money that we didn't use on the playfort.

In fact, I just realized that I never did post after pictures of the porch. Well, it still has a ways to go before it is really cute (hopefully I can make more headway on it next week). But, it is very usable now. In fact, I am typing this from my porch. It is an absolutely exquisite day. I am sitting at the table on the porch, which is covered in one of my favorite vintage tablecloths. The older two boys are playing down in the yard below me, filthy, but happy as can be. Fresh air and sunshine...just the thing for growing little boys!

Friday, October 12, 2007


"I had rather be shut up in a very modest cottage, with my books, my family, and a few old friends, dining on simple bacon, and letting the world roll on as it liked, than to occupy the most splendid post, which any human power can give." ~Thomas Jefferson

Preach it, Mr. Jefferson! There is no where on earth that I would rather be on a chilly fall night than right here in my cozy little living room. I don't even need bacon, just a hot cup of tea will do, and I thank you.

Our house's previous owners came by today (well, the wife came by). I showed her the changes we had made to the house, we talked about changes/renovations/expansions that they had considered when they lived here, she told me more about the original owner and what the house looked like when they bought it, etc.
It was very interesting. Our house is very "Williamsburg". That was the first thing I thought when I saw it. After visiting Williamsburg again a few weeks ago, I was really amazed at the original owner's attention to detail with this house. He was from Virginia but had moved to GA and was a historian at the University here. He built and then lived in this house for 20+ years, before retiring and moving to Williamsburg. It was really fun to discover details about our house that were modeled after Wililamsburg, while we were there a few weeks ago.
See that little building on the left, in the picture above? We have an outbuilding EXACTLY like that at our house! It even has the finial on top. It is so sweet. Our building (all outbuildings, and house) is green, with dark green shutters...a color combo you also see in Williamsburg (see below). The little outbuilding of ours is now home to the "man shed". This little ceramic birdhouse? Yep, we have one of those!
Anyway, she stayed for about three hours and we had a great visit. She was very sweet and even brought me a book of Williamsburg design. So thoughtful of her! We also had a chance to talk about breastfeeding, shopping at Wal.Mart (she NEVER goes!), eating a vegetarian diet, getting off the consumerist grid, and living a simple life. It was great to talk to her. The first time we saw this house, I remember being struck by how uncluttered the house was. Even the closets had plenty of extra room. They had a tiny television. I remember how surprising it was, and refreshing, to see a house that wasn't bursting at the seams. So, I really enjoyed getting to know her a little more today. She and her husband are remodeling a mid-century modern house, which I look forward to seeing very soon. It was a nice afternoon of good conversation and making a new friend!

*First image from Lynnie Winnie on

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Week six went well. As you can see at the left, I spent $31.06. You may remember that I only have $89 for three weeks of shopping, if I want to reach my new goal of staying under $200 a month on groceries/household items. Half of my budget this week was spent at the produce stand, the other half at the discount food store.
We ate just as well as any other week. Homemade pizza, chicken fajitas, hummus, sauteed asparagus, bacon and eggs, potato and bacon soup in breadbowls...even homemade gingerbread biscotti with white chocolate icing, to eat with my hot tea. Yum!
I am out of fruits and veggies and definitely need to go to the produce stand but am waiting until tomorrow b/c I didn't want to go over budget for this week.
I am happy that with just a little more thought and preparation, I am able to "earn" $50 a week. Like I always say (well, I didn't originally say it...but I love to copy whoever did)...there are two ways to have more money. Earn more, or spend less. I prefer the spend less method. :)
Also, because I am not making impulse purchases and am shopping for specific items on the same day each week...I am learning to ration items to make them stretch until shopping day and am getting more creative with my cooking. No more "quick trips" to the store to "pick up one or two things". You know those trips where you never spend less than $40, even though you just went in for milk? I stayed home for five straight days last week. FIVE! I didn't go anywhere. So I am saving money on gas too!
Next week, I plan to cook some really good things, using mostly ingredients I already have. Scones and hot tea for breakfast. Baked apples with cinnamon, raisins, oatmeal, and brown sugar. Pumpkin bread. Wild rice and Lentil soup. Shrimp and grits. Yum.
This week, I started using cloth diapers with Bauer full time. It worked out well, b/c I ran out of disposable diapers and if I had to buy more, definitely would have gone over my budget. I really like using them. It takes a little planning though, because I still only have four diapers, so I have to wash them a lot and be mindful of having a clean one on hand. Once I get several more though, this will be easier. The diapers have been great. He slept in one from 8 pm until 9am and when de woke up and was changed, his skin was still dry. I think they work even better than the disposables I had (Pampers Swaddlers). Amazing! Per Becky's suggestion, knowing that L always fills his diapers when he wakes up in the morning and after his nap, I am putting training pants on him for the rest of the day, which is working out well. That will help the budget too. Thanks for the suggestion, Becky!
I may only have two weeks left of my little experiment, but this is a change that I have adopted for life.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


I hate clutter. I do not like to have figurines, picture frames, etc. lying around on tabletops. I don't have collections. I don't have many decorative items at all. You must think my house looks pretty bare. I know some friends do (:::cough:::Charlotte:::cough). Truthfully, I would like to pare down more. I long for simplicity. I wish everyone in my family had about 5 outfits, a jacket, maybe 2 pairs of shoes. For Christmas, I am getting my kids each a Klean Kanteen so I can get rid of all those plastic sippy cups. No more cabinet clutter, no more plastic-leaching possibilities. I am also going to get them each their own enamelware dish set. One bowl, one cup. Durable, charming, simple. Buh-bye, plastic plates, cluttering up my drawers.
I think the key to having a beautiful, yet uncluttered space lies in several areas, all of which need work in my home.
1. Fabrics. Pillows, bedding, upholstery, window dressings, etc. They add so much depth and richness to a room without adding "stuff". I really want to bring more fabrics into my house.

2. Lighting. Candles, lamps, overhead lights on dimmers. Warm lighting that casts a soft glow really transforms a room. I love lamps. There are a few places I would like to add one, such as my kitchen.

3. Beauty in the essential. Just because an item is neccessary, doesn't mean it has to only be utilitarian. I love to have items in my home that are both useful and beautiful. I have very few items that only serve the purpose of beauty. There is really no excuse to not have beautiful things. Many items can be purchased at junk or antique stores that are just as functional as a new, more expensive item. Most times, the item that is prettier, is also more well made. For example, I think an all white bed is so beautiful unmade. I love the look of rumpled 100% cotton sheets, thick feather pillows, and a big yummy down comforter, unmade and ready at a moment's notice to curl up in. I also think of this especially with toys. I have noticed that when toys are out that I find visually appealing, they don't bother me nearly as much as ugly plastic toys. These wooden blocks could stay out all day without getting on my nerves. However, the moment the boys are done with these leggos, I want them picked up and put away. Here are a few things around my house that I find ugly, along with their equally useful, asthetically pleasing counterpart.
Instead of this ugly aeresol can......a pretty candle.
Instead of this plastic bottle of chemicals, uh, detergent......this glass bottle of natural lavender detergent.
Instead of this uninspired plastic laundry basket......this $3 wicker basket, spray painted black.
Instead of this boring plastic trashcan (oh look, it matches the laundry basket)......this white metal trash bucket (my mom has one that says PAIL (in comparison), that I just think is so fun).
Instead of dented, ugly cans with foods loaded with about some glass jars of homemade foods?

These are just a few areas in my home where I have replaced ugly functional with pretty functional. There are many other places I would like to do this. Most of the ugly things I still use, just behind the scenes, where I don't have to see them. Once they have finished serving their purpose, they find a home elsewhere. When the things that you use everyday, all the time, are beautiful then when your house is a little messy, it will still be a pleasing place to be, because the things that are "messy" are also beautiful. Few things, but good things. That is my goal.

Monday, October 08, 2007

1 Corinthians 10:31

*Image from tomo*'s on
I have to admit...there have been some bad habits in play at our house. I seem to fall into them whenever I have a new baby, and after a few months, have to regroup. It is that time again. Baby B is four months old, it is time to get a grip. The worst habit that I am now kicking to the curb, is using the television as a babysitter. I am embarrassed to admit how bad it has gotten, but maybe a shameful confession will do me some good. Here it is: My two year old sat buckled in his high chair, eating his scrambled eggs and toast in front of the tv for TWO HOURS the other morning. I know, I am a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad parent (that is a little literary shout that book, anyone?).
Let me explain my downward spiral that has brought me to this shameful place. Ideally, I get up early. At least by six am. I have devotions, do a load or two of laundry, empty the dishwasher, get dressed, plan my day, do a little work, etc. Getting up at six gives me two hours of good work and really changes the tone of my home throughout the rest of the day.
Well, I haven't been doing that consistently for quite a long while. I have been staying up late (often until 1 or 2 am) on the computer, reading a book or magazine, what have you. I then fall asleep and don't wake up until 8:30 or 9 (if my children let me sleep that long). Usually the baby wakes up before that, but I put him in the bed with me and nurse him and we both go back to sleep. Many times Caed doesn't wake up until after me. L usually wakes up around 8 or so and either I will get up, or if the hubby is still home, he will get him up and fix his cereal. I drag out of bed and spend the next hour or two, scrambling to catch up and do the things I should have done early in the morning, while the children watch tv. I feel like I spend the whole rest of the day trying to get my act together.
But tonight, I am saying ENOUGH. I sat the family down and we had a little talk about how all this tv is not good for us. It rots their brains and gives them ADD and the gimmies and makes them not want to do creative things or be healthy. That I was being a bad mommy for letting them watch it so much.
It is going to take some serious discipline on my part. The hardest part will be to go to bed at a decent hour. Ideally, lights off at 10:30. Also, the tv will not come on AT ALL until I am cooking dinner. Then the kids may watch one 30 minute cartoon that I Tivo'd earlier in the day. On Friday nights, C may watch a video as a week-end treat. The hubby and I watch Prison Break on Monday nights, usually with friends.
I am going to be bringing more structure to our days. We are going to take advantage of local offerings: museums, wildlife centers, downtown events, festivals, the library. I refuse to allow this precious time with my little children to be used up with them in front of the tv while I try to cope with the neccessities of daily life. I am going to be intentional about their oldest is only five and already I am mourning how quickly the time is going. I am going to enjoy my children...their excitement, their unbounding energy, their amazing creativity, their inquisitive spirits, their unfailing love for me even when I am mean (:::sigh:::).
I am going to be a mother that embraces the amazing, yet overwhelming task of raising my boys to love Christ, love the world He created, and to love one another. And it starts first thing in the morning.

Friday, October 05, 2007

DIAPERS, AND WIPES, AND BABIES, OH MY!*Boo Bear Buns diapers from

I have ordered several more cloth diapers. To my complete surprise, I actually really like cloth diapers. Well, let me rephrase that. I really like using cloth diapers on nursing infants who haven't started solids yet. :) There is no way in H-E-Double hockey sticks that I am using cloth diapers on my two year old. I am hoping that by easing into this gradually, by the time my 4 month old is well into solids, that I will be used to it and it won't be a big deal. The difference between cloth and disposable is huge. And not just with diapers. I find that using cloth over disposable is much better in almost every situation. Towels, wet wipes, napkins, diapers, nursing pads. When did we become such a disposable culture? Cloth is much more environmentally friendly, less expensive, feels better on skin, more satisfying to use, etc.

I can't really think of a good way to verbalize the difference. The best analogy I can think of is a house. You know when you walk into one of those cheap, cookie cutter, contractor-grade houses that are made of the cheapest vinyl siding, linoleum, fake wood floors, hollow core doors, and the like? You know how they just don't have that satisfying presence about them? And then you walk into a home that was custom built with brick, hardwood floors, solid wood doors, crown moulding, and tile? It just feels more substantial? More RIGHT? That is how using cloth feels to me. It just feels right. With a baby, using cloth isn't much of a hassle anyway. It isn't a big deal to throw the diapers in the wash and they look so sweet hanging on the line. If anyone who is reading this has a baby, I highly recommend buying a cloth diaper or two and just trying it out.
I haven't posted about my diaper experience sooner because I didn't want to jump the gun and act really excited about it only to have the novelty wear off after a few days and go back to disposable. I have used cloth while out of the house, at home, and overnight, all with great success. They launder easily and fit well on my baby.
I still am not completely sure which brand I want to use though. The first diaper I bought (and which I just ordered more of) is easily the easiest to use. It is called a one size all in one. The great thing about this diaper is that it is one size fits all...newborn to potty you can really stretch your investment. The other great thing about it is that it has a built in liner, so you don't need a diaper cover. It is much less bulky under clothes because of that and is also much more hubby-grandparent-babysitter friendly because it is just like a disposable diaper to use (except for the throwing it away part).
On the other hand, I really like the other diaper I bought, which is pictured above. These diapers are organic, unbleached hemp/cotton blend, one size fits all, and they feel sooooo good. I love their natural color and how soft they are. They are very absorbent and are very easy to use. I don't even like to put baby B's clothes on because he looks so sweet in just his little diaper. However, the downside is that these need a diaper cover, so they are more expensive (and if you put a cover over them, then you can't see how cute they are!). These are actually faster to use than the other diaper, because you just lay the doubler in the diaper, rather than stuffing it in the pocket with the other diaper. So, I am not really sure what I will end up using. I might do a combo of the two.
As for my two year old, I am in a bit of dilemma. On the one hand, I am grossed out at the thought of cleaning cloth diapers at his advanced stage of eating. On the other hand, I feel really badly about using disposable diapers and clogging up the landfills. Did you know that it supposedly takes a disposable diaper 300 YEARS to decompose?!!! I have already dumped thousands of diapers in the trash with my three kids...multiply that by millions of babies...I shudder to think!

So, I thought that maybe biodegradable diapers would be a good compromise. While that would be better, environmentally, it still has some major drawbacks. On the eco level, there are still lots of materials, packaging, work, transportation, and fuel that go into making those diapers. While they may not be rotting in a landfull for the next umpteenth years, they stiil aren't the best choice. Also, they are almost twice as expensive ($0.52 apiece, compared to $0.28 apiece for huggies supreme) and I would have to order them online. So, my question is: Where do we draw the line with doing what is easiest for us, or best for the world as a whole? Where do we make the sacrifices in our everyday life for the good of future generations and where do we say enough? Some go so far as to live without a fridge and air conditioning while others just do a little recycling now and then. Do you go buy the expensive Prius because it is better for the environment, or do you keep the 8 year old Volvo that runs fine and is paid for?
Obviously, this isn't a cut and dried thing. There isn't one answer that works for everyone across the board.

I am struggling with that answer for my own family right now, in little ways. Should I spend more of our money on biodegradable diapers that are less harmful for the environment but less financially friendly?
Of course, the cheapest and most green choice would be cloth (or Elimination Communication/Potty Training).
So, the real question is: do I care enough about the earth to get over my squeamishness of changing cloth diapers on a grape and peanuts loving two year old? I hope the answer is yes, but honestly, I just don't know.

This is a day late but I was so sick yesterday I couldn't even bring myself to type a little bitty post. I am feeling much better today, and am ready to report this week's results! Actually, I am going to include today's shopping also (even though my weeks run thursday to thursday) because I had intended to shop yesterday, which is my regular shopping day...but it was pushed to today because of being sick. Anyhooo...
Well, you may remember that the new challenge I have added to the social experiement is to try and cut my total grocery spending in half, from $400 to $200 per month. Which means I need to spend under $50 a week. This week I spent $111. But that is ok! I still think I can make it. I need to spend under $30 a week for the next three weeks to meet my goal. The reason I spent so much this week is because I needed to restock my pantry after being gone for six days, and because I had two birthday parties to throw this week. We had already had one party, which was a family potluck. We have another party tomorrow, with about 20-25 people coming. So, with all things considered, I am pretty happy with my grocery spending for the week.
Here is the breakdown
$12-Hotdogs for C's party (80 hotdogs from the foodsales hotty/hubby)
$36-Diapers, party supplies, pantry staples...from the Discount Food Store
$30-party supplies and pantry staples...IGA
$33-Vegetables and fruit...Produce stand

How am I going to keep my spending under $30 a week for the next three weeks, you ask?
Well, I have ordered two more cloth diapers, which should arrive next week. I will then have enough to last about 1/3 of a week, which will also reduce my diaper purchases by 1/6 (1/3 of 1/2 of my kids). That will save some. I have made and am now using cloth wipes, which will save a little. My freezers are full of all kinds of meat. My pantry has rice, pasta, canned goods, oatmeal, green beans, etc. All I will need to buy (for the most part) are dairy items such as milk, butter, and eggs...and fresh fruits and vegetables. I can reduce that bill too, by only buying local and in-season fruits and veggies. I spent a lot this week by buying grapes and asparagus. We love asparagus around our house, but it is pricey at $3.29 per pound. I can do better with pole beans (so yummy steamed and tossed with minced garlic, sea salt, pepper, and clarified butter), corn, and greens.
So, there it is. I can do it! In the words of the little blue engine that could "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can!"

My hubby really encouraged me to keep at it today when he said that he was really starting to feel the difference in our budget from the money I was saving on groceries. That was all the motivation I needed to keep this up! Not that I am wanting to quit, I love this new way of life! But, it was nice to hear that it was affecting our bottom line in a positive way.

In other good news, I have officially lost all my Bauer weight!! Woo Hoo!! I was doing a happy dance in my undies this morning when I stepped on that scale. It wasn't pretty, but I did it anyway because I was soooo excited!! I lost 43 pounds in 4 months. That is the fasted that I have ever lost weight. Now, I am going to get started on that 12 pounds I had left from Landing, and then the 22 pounds I had left from Caed! It's my own little No-Child-Left-Behind Act. :) 43 pounds down, 34 to go. I was so motivated that tonight when I wanted ice cream, I had grapes instead. I have to get those Choco tacos OUT OF MY HOUSE!!!

Oh, and I know this post is getting long, but here is what I decided on for the party tomorrow (you may remember that I had some angst about presents and gift bags a while back). We are having C's party at the church (playground, cafeteria like room w/ a kitchen). We invited about four families with boys his age, plus our families. We asked that no one bring gifts. C has only been to a few parties (and they were awhile ago), and hasn't had anything other than a family party for the last two years, so I really don't think he will notice. But if he does, we will just tell him that he is opening presents on Sunday, which is really his birthday. On Sunday night, we will go to a restaurant here in town that he has a birthday coupon for with our families and give him his presents from the grandparents. We are giving the two birthday boys (L's was Wednesday) a wooden playset from us.
We will play simple games such as simon says, musical chairs, etc. They can play on the playground, have an impromptu baseball game or work puzzles inside. We will also have a pinata. I decided against gift bags in leui of someone's great idea (can't remember who left that comment now, but thank you!) to have paper bags for the kids to decorate, then take their goodies from the pinata home in. I know disposable paper bags aren't very eco-friendly, but I figured it was better than plastic and other than making bags out of fabric from goodwill, I couldn't think of a better alternative. I did get the brown paper bags that haven't been bleached. I hope he is happy with his little party. I want him to enjoy having family and friends around celebrating with him and having a good time playing together...not him ripping through presents, throwing each one down to get to the next one while all his friends watch and feel jealous.
For food we are having hotdogs, chips, grapes, juice, and cupcakes. I still haven't figured out what I am doing about cups and plates...hmmm, guess I need to work that out pretty soon.

Well, that is it for now. I need to get busy making cupcakes and stuffing a dinosaur pinata!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

*This image is from

My sweet little Landing turns 2 today. It's been the longest and shortest two years of my life. Landing's birth altered my existence in more ways than I could ever verbalize.
Landing's reputation precedes him and he wears many titles. Wild child. Crazy Kid. Crash Landing. He wears them all well.

Landing doesn't do anything halfway. Every action is full of passion and enthusiasm. He runs. He jumps. He bounces. He crashes. His hugs are rough and heartfelt and always appreciated. His eyes sparkle and twinkle and warn me of impending mischeviousness.

Some days I think I won't survive his childhood.

Every day I am thankful for him.

Happy Birthday, Landing.
I love you more than you will ever know.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


This evening, my soon-to-be five year old asked me the question that sends tremors of dread through women around the world: "mom, what's for dinner?"
In my head, I am thinking "pork chops, green beans, rice". But I know better than to answer with that. Pork chops, beans, and rice is boring. And yucky. And he doesn't like that. And he wants something else. Blah, blah, blah.
So after a moment, I replied..."C, for dinner this evening, you will be enjoying hand-cut pork chops, marinated overnight and grilled to perfection. Steamed green beans tossed with fresh minced garlic, sea salt, and clarified sweet cream butter. And of course, a delightful risotto with carmelized onions and aged parmesan cheese."
He looked at me, surprised, then said "Ooh, mom! That sounds good!"
And it was. Sometimes, it's all in the verbiage. :)

Click here to download a sermon on why Christians should be environmentally conscious. The sermon had some fluff, especially in the beginning, but the end was very thought provoking. As believers, we are commanded to have dominion over the earth. Who, more than we, should be taking care of the earth?

For me, it isn't about a hole in the ozone, or global warming. Those things may or may not be occuring. But even if they aren't, why waste when we don't need to? Why not recycle? Why not be content with less? Why not live a simple life?

Hmmm, I seem to be doing that a lot lately. Didn't do so great on my challenges yesterday. You could say I completely failed. That whole "go vegan for a week" thing? Yeah, that pretty much lasted 3 hours. Despite how gross meat and dairy seem in my head, the reality is, I really like them. A lot. Should I cut out meat and dairy when I am nursing? Probably wouldn't hurt anything, but I think I am going to drop that challenge. I am just going to focus on eating only when I am truly hungry, and eat healthy foods. That worked for the first three months. I am going to stick with that. I know, I now look like a complete flake. I guess that's what I get for posting my little challenges on my blog, huh?

Also, I didn't get to the screened porch yesterday. I don't know why I picked that for my first project, it is a big undertaking. I think maybe I should just delete yesterday's post and act like it never happened...
But, I did get a lot done yesterday. Instead of a house project, I made homemade wipes out of yummy thick flannel. I even sewed around the edges so they wouldn't fall apart in the wash. I was pretty proud of myself. I folded them and put them in an empty wipe box with a homemade solution of 2 cups water, 2 T. olive oil, and 2 T. lavender baby wash. They are WONDERFUL. They smell good and they are so soft on little baby bottoms. I am really, really pleased with them. I haven't mentioned how my cloth diapering experience has been going, but look for that in a later post.
I do want to get the porched cleaned up this week. I am hosting bookgroup at my house on Friday, and would love to have it out on the porch. You might remember that this picture below is my inspiration.And this is what my porch looks like now.
The porch has been pretty much just used for storage this summer, since it has been so hot. The boxes have been freecycled and will be picked up later this week. The hot wheels was won by the hubby at an auction. It is going on Craig's list today (unless any of you are looking for an early Christmas present?). My to-do list for the porch includes:
-wiping down all furniture
-brushing down cobwebs and leaves
-sweeping and mopping floor
-putting a tablecloth on table
-putting a vase of fall leaves on the table
-pulling the sisal rugs from the foyer and bathroom and putting them on the porch
-potting some flowers and putting them around
-airing out the pillows, putting them on rockers

That will all get done in bits and pieces between now and Friday. I will post after pictures when I get it looking a little better.
I did spend the morning cleaning the boys room. It was a disaster. I didn't take a before picture, but trust me, it was awful.
My next goals for their room is to paint all the beds the pale blue of bed #1 and get mattresses for the other beds (L will be moving in here soon, when I move B to the crib in the nursery). Then bedding. Red and white ticking dust ruffles/bed skirts, navy quilts, white sheets. I think it will look really sweet in there. All my little boys in a row. Cute!
Also, I did a little decluttering this morning, adding to the huge box in the foyer that is going to our church swap (garage sale without money) in a few weeks.Now, I am going to get these kiddos down for a nap, have a little lunch, and get started on the porch! Have a great day!

Monday, October 01, 2007


This is the week of challenges for me. I am learning something with this blog...if I make a challenge to myself but also make it public (ie. write about it here), I am much more likely to stick with it. Because if I fail I only have two choices...either lie about my results, or admit my failure. I am definitely not going to lie and would rather not admit that I failed! :)
In some situations during my social experiment, especially in the very beginning, knowing that I would have to either 'fess up or lie, has kept me from caving in and cheating every once in awhile. So, I am posting not only what my two new challenges are for the week (in addition to my social experiment), but also the honest progress and result of those experiments. You may find this completely boring, but hey, it's my blog, so I can write about what I want, right? :) Here are my two challenges.

1. GO VEGAN. You are probably raising your eyebrows at this one. No, I am not doing it out of any moral obligation. I don't feel that eating animals is cruel and inhumane. Though, I will admit, when I think about milk and eggs and meat and what they really are and where they come from, I am pretty grossed out. I mean, I wouldn't want someone else to nurse my child, but I will drink milk from a cow? That seems slightly inconsistent.
No, I am doing it because I have spiralled out of control with my eating. For the first three months after baby B's birth, I ate very well and lost a lot of weight. Then the fruit snacks came into the picture. You have already read my confession. Then I went out of town. Didn't do so great then either. Now we have all the ice cream samples the hubby brought home. It isn't good people, it isn't good at all. I am an all or nothing person. I can't just cut back, I have to eliminate. So, this week is sort of a cleansing week. Detox, if you will. Only eating healthy foods for a week so I can cleanse myself and kick this junk food habit. I had originally thought I would just go vegetarian, but meat isn't the issue so much as dairy. Without dairy, I can't eat ice cream, cookies, etc.
Now, I am not going to go around reading labels on all my foods to make sure there is no dairy product in them. If my bread has a little milk in it, so be it. But, I will not eat anything that I know has dairy (like the ice cream) and I will not make anything (suck as cookies) that have milk and eggs in them.
My menu will consist mainly of fruits, vegetables, water, grains, and legumes.

2. WEEK OF REDECORATING. I am getting the bug to reorganize, declutter, and redecorate. This week I will be challenging myself to (re)decorate an area of my home each day with items that I already own or can be found in nature. I will not be going out and buying anything new to decorate with. I am also going to take an honest look at my closet of home decor items and get rid of the things that I don't absolutely love. It will be nice to reclaim that closet floor. Each day's decorating will be documented with a before and after picture. Today's challenge: the screened in porch. I'll be back later this afternoon to post pictures of the transformation!