"Enjoy the LITTLE THINGS in life for one day you will look back and realize they were the big things."

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Secondhand Living and Loving It

We buy so many things secondhand.  It is a necessity for us since we live on a meager income for our family size. Ultimately, God has always provided for us because the numbers would never make sense otherwise.  God has given me wisdom in the area of finances and I have seen through the years how he blesses my family.  I have learned that waiting is a blessing.  Sometimes it is not always a joy to wait when the item seems needed but many times I have seen The Lord bless me more for the sacrifice.  Sometimes we want to run out and buy an item when we feel we "need" it.  We grow impatient with our wanting.  When we stop and ponder if it something we really need or not most of the time it can wait.  

My most recent example of this is our "new to us" refrigerator. Being that our other home was a turn of the century home we had to have a certain refrigerator to fit.  The good news was it was the cheapest type refrigerator you can buy!  The bad news is that there were really no frills.  But seriously, do we need frills?  No, we needed a working fridge that did it's job.  And, that is exactly what we had.  Years ago my first fridge was one I purchased from a co-worker for $50 and it served me well for several years. When it went out we purchased a truly new one.  It lasted many years but when it was time to replace it I bought secondhand.  I think I paid $150 for one exactly like I had!  This was a huge blessing because ad I said before I had to have a certain size for my space.  Meanwhile, I dreamed about one of those with the freezer in the bottom... not at all something I "needed" but I wondered if it might make life easier if my little ones could reach the ice.  Well, now we have moved and even though it is a much smaller house we have a little more flexibility on the type of refrigerator we can have since there are not built in cabinets above the fridge area.  I began once again to dream if one if those freezer-in-the-bottom style fridges, again.  For a little while I was diligently searching for one secondhand but it truly was not a "need" so I decided that waiting was a better option... I certainly would not be buying a used one and paying $1,300 for it. I knew if I waited that God would work it out... and part if that is accepting that the way He works it out sometimes means not getting it at all.  Fast forward to now.  We have lived in our "new to us" home for three months now and I really had settled into not changing the refrigerator... even though every time you open the door of the fridge it bangs into the kitchen island and creates huge traffic flow issues in the kitchen.  Meanwhile, my husband keeps browsing these local for sale by owner Facebook groups and a few nights ago he came across a side by side fridge for $350.  I was leery.  First of all, I did not want to spend the money I had poked back.  Secondly, I needed to take measurements to make sure it would even fit (which I suspected it would not).  And lastly, I did not know if it would even solve or help with our traffic flow problem or if the doors would still hit the island.  The lady immediately dropped her price to $300 without us even asking her to.  We started measuring and thinking it through and decided to buy it.  

And, it has all worked out!!!! I should not be so surprised... God always works this stuff out. I did spend that money that was poked back.  The fridge did fit (even though it was a challenge to get it in and through doorways).  And, it did solve our traffic flow problem and does not hit the island when you open doors.  Not only did all that work out I realized that the freezer-in-the-bottom style I had been dreaming of would have had the same problems with the doors hitting the island.  God worked us out a much better one.  I have found when I sacrifice that he has always blessed me exceedingly above what my desires are.  This one allows more fridge space and more freezer space.  It has the ice and water in the door and is even filtered water.  The water reservoir is in the fridge portion so the water is even chilled when you dispense it! My littles will be able to serve themselves when they are thirsty... and, there is a child lock feature to keep them from serving themselves too often (aka playing with the "magic" water/ice dispensers).  This thing is the cadillac of refrigerators. It has a button to "power freeze" when you bring in not so chilled groceries.  And, it beeps when the door is open too long.  Interestingly, like that fridge I was "dreaming" about it retails for about $1,300.  So, waiting got us a better item and saved us $1,000.

Many people will never understand it (and that is okay), but we are secondhand living and loving it.  

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

One Burner Cooking Adventures: Breakfast for Dinner

Last night I was doing a "decide as your cooking" kind of thing for dinner.  I do this way too often.  I am not much much of a planner so I do way to many things flying by the seat of my pants.  Meal plans work amazingly well but some of us never learn... And therefore, must decide on a whim almost every night.  

So, as I was standing there in my kitchen with my one burner I grabbed a pot and put it on the stove and was about to place a pound of frozen hamburger meat in it and start "something" going.  See, there is some planning for you... FROZEN hamburger...  BUT I have mastered the art of cooking that way... LOL.  I was thinking a quick pasta soup... BUT then I opened the fridge and saw a couple of pounds of pan sausage that was in need of being used.  And... I totally changed the dinner direction. 

Plan B:  I put the pot away and grabbed an iron skillet (one if my fav things) and fired up my one burner.  Did I mention that my one burner is a gas burner?  I grew up with a gas stove but I have not had a gas stove in thirteen years.  I am loving it... even if it is only one burner.  Anyway, I made my little sausage patties and had them cooking.  Meanwhile, I ground my wheat in my electric grinder (and there is another story completely about that... Sigh!) and starting mixing up the ingredients for pancakes.  I also got another bowl out and broke up a bunch of eggs for scrambling so these things would be ready when the time came.  I set my extra large pancake griddle on the counter (and I only use this griddle for pancakes and grilled cheese).  

After all the sausage was cooked I moved my pan to one of my non-working burners (because I have plenty of those... Ha!) and got out another iron skillet (I have a lovely assortment) for my scrambled eggs.  I oiled it and started on cooking the pancakes.  About halfway through cooking the pancakes I cooked the scrambled the eggs on my one burner.  Shortly after, breakfast for dinner was DONE!  

My husband walked around the corner and said...
"You are really mastering this one burner cooking thing!"


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Making It Our Own: My Bargain Address Marker

We were doing a little rummage sale searching in hopes of finding a secondhand VCR.  We did not find that VCR that day but we did find some other goodies.  I will have to post pictures of the doors we acquired on another post (major bargain... $10 each), but for now I want to show you my address marker we got for the driveway.  I really should try to remember to take before pics, but imagine the stake slightly bent and the paint faded and rusty.  This cost me $3 (no tax) and we spruced it up a bit with less than a dollars worth of spray paint.  I beat it straight with a hammer, did a bit more paint touch up, and stuck it in the ground.  

We found the reflective house number out in our pasture when we were bush hogging. Who would have ever guessed it was laying out in the pasture.  It has a little damage and required a little bit of straightening from past hits with mower blades.  It's not perfect but it's perfect for the country life!  God blesses me in little ways only I know about.  You see, I wanted one of these.  I did not want to buy one, though.., or, at least, not right now after so many moving expenses. I am guessing that they were provided by the county as 911 address markers since almost every house around here has one.  Anyway, I wanted one... for the ease of others locating the house... for clarification for the number on our mailbox... and, for safety reasons for the 911 address.  I am always trying to be a good steward of the finances God provides even in the little things.  I try to make wise financial choices and often times have to skip out on things I "want". Amazingly, God seems to reward me more often than I could ever tell you.  This marker was FREE!!! Do you know how exciting that is?!  And, this marker holder was ONLY $3 !!! God loves me and He knows the desires of my heart.  Now, that does not mean I always get what I want.  I assure you I don't but I know when I don't it is for my own good. He does bless me in many little ways I could never count, though.  

Friday, November 7, 2014

One Burner Cooking Adventures: No Plan and Adding Salad

I wish I could say that we were all settled into place and we had everything figured out since moving to our current home.  The facts are... It just ain't so!  We are just doing what we can... as we can.  

One thing I did when preparing to move in here was to clean the stovetop... really well... Ummmm... too well possibly.  I sprayed bleach on the knobs and I think it corroded them.  So, we managed to get one burner working.  It may seem odd but I am THANKFUL for that ONE burner.  Before we got it working I was cooking on a two burner portable electric  hot plate... for two and half months. You may be thinking that two burners are better than one... but no.  Just no.  The burners on the hot plate are raise electric burners and they are small.  For cooking with large pots like we use the burners are very flimsy.  Not to mention that even though there are two burners I could really only use one because it pulls so much electricity that it would constantly throw a breaker while I was trying to cook.  I say good riddance to that thing!  Hallelujah.  

So, I have had quite the challenge trying to find meals to prepare.  I have the one burner, a microwave, and an oven that cooks at a high heat (it is always something!). I also have a griddle I use for pancakes or grilled cheese... and a waffle maker.  

Today I had company for lunch and I needed to feed them but I was not prepared.  It seemed everything I thought to make was missing some main ingredient.  Ya know... because it is not complicated enough to have only have one burner.  I had to really think hard... Really hard!  This is what I came up with:

On the ONE burner -- I put a bag of frozen cauliflower and a bag of frozen broccoli which I seasoned with salt, light olive oil, and real butter and cooked.  

In the oven -- I diced up some chicken breast into chunks and seasoned those with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika.  I then, poured on some seasoned bread crumbs and tossed it around until the chicken chunks were well coated and baked those.  I also warmed a pumpkin Danish pastry that I bought already prepared.  

Microwave -- it was used to heat up some leftover pizza bread from last night.  

Uncooked items -- I made a salad!  

It was nothing glamorous but it was a complete meal.  

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Making It Ours: Kid Bathroom

The house we moved to has only two bathrooms.  Our other house had two and half baths.  This is not a big deal for us because the half bath rarely got used anyway.  I think two bathrooms is plenty for a family of seven.  We stagger baths/showers anyway and it is rare that everyone has to go potty at once.  For those times they just have to learn to wait in line just like anywhere else you might be.  

When we bought this house the smaller bathroom had nothing but a tub in it.  The toilet and vanity had been removed and the linoleum floor was in good shape but was older and yellowed.  The walls are bead board and were white but in need of touch up, so I painted over it all to freshen it up. 

This is a before pic... The hole in the floor is where a toilet should be.  

This is where a vanity should have been with the toilet beside it .  You can see the yellowed linoleum floor that was still functional but not appealing.  

We have lived here three months now and I still have more to do, but I thought I would share the progress since I did some more work on this bathroom today.  

Of course, we started by adding new linoleum, a vanity, and a toilet.  I chose to use contrasting dark colors rather than have complete whiteness all around.  I had the mirror but it had a light oak frame so I gave it a quick brush over with a thick coat of dark stain.  I also decided on the bronze faucet even though the shower has silver.  I would love it to match, but I am not changing it out.  I can live with it.  Just today I added the toilet paper shelf.  I have been trying to figure out what to do with this shelf since we moved here.  I had no plan to use it in the bathroom but after pouring through pics on Pinterest today I decided to see if it would work.  I had thought the shelves would not be deep enough but it seems they will work after all.  

This is close-up and you can see the top to the little hot pink garbage can below.  

We had this picture from our other house.  I love this!  Look close and you can see the frogs on the lily pads are a prince and princess.  I love the castle far off in the distance and the weeping willow tree.  The frame is distressed making it a bit shabby chic.  This is a rare item I did not bargain shop for.  Years ago I actually spent about $50 on this little art piece.  If you know me, you know that is a big deal.  All the other accent pieces were bargains... and, things I keep repurposing for new uses.  

I hung these cute little scalloped square shelves today, but I still need to figure out what will set there.  The old school folding hat hanger makes a great towel hook for multiple towels.  I spray painted it white years ago and we used it as a necklace holder in our kid bathroom at the house.  

Years ago I made this patchwork froggy shower curtain making sure it could work for a unisex bathroom.  The little baskets in the window were probably a dollar and I bought the little wooden duck and frog cutouts already painted for cheap at the craft store and just glued them on.  The shower hooks and froggy accent pieces are items I had already.  If you could see it all there are ducks, frogs, and turtles that are so very cute.  

The next project on the agenda will go on this blank wall.  I am designing a large family toothbrush organizer to go here for all my children.  You can not see in these pics but we still have to solve a light fixture issue and I want to add shelves of sime sort (probably something unique and shabby chic) above the toilet for towel storage and such.  

So, this is just a glimpse at how we are making this smaller house work for our larger than average family.  My biggest tips for making small spaces work is to think practical in bathrooms.  Everything needs to function and not just be pretty.  The little buckets in the window hold washcloths... and I never even fold thosewashclothes.  We just stuff them in there and this saves time on laundry.  There is a small ceramic frog trash can in this room that is not pictured and it holds panties for my youngest that has accidents frequently.  Towel bars are a waste when only one or two towels can be hung on them.  Use pegs or hooks for multiple towels and robes.  Use the back of the door in a useful way... maybe for robe hooks or a hanging organizer.  In our other house I had a now and hair clip holder on the back of the door.  Skip the single toilet paper roll holder and go for a basket, shelf, etc. that can hold more.  I don't use a holder because my littles will unroll it all once they realize the magic of that.  Add shelves inside your vanity cabinet that will hold toothbrushes, hairbrushes, etc.. Having a well organized space can make even a small space work for larger families.  

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Rawr! Caden

No real reason for this pic, except this is my little guy being silly and fun.... 

Caden, 8... All boy! 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Much Needed Snuggles

Sienna, 3

I REALLY needed a snuggle with this cutie.  Sometimes you can't even share the details of how miserable you feel and those are the days these kind of snuggles go a long way.  Just a brief moment in time can cover some of the deepest sorrows and get you through to the next moment.  I am so thankful for these little moments in time.