GOD's my island hideaway, keeps danger far from the shore,
throws garlands of hosannas around my neck.
(Psa 32:7 MSG)


Merry Christmas!

There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God's angel stood among them and God's glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, "Don't be afraid. I'm here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David's town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you're to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger." At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God's praises: Glory to God in the heavenly heights, Peace to all men and women on earth who please him. As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. "Let's get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us." They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed. Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they'd been told!
(Luke 2:8-20 MSG)

That's what Christmas is really all about. We celebrate the fact that God become like us so He could save us. Immanuel. God With Us. The Great I AM. Thank You, for the most wonderful Gift ever!

It's so much fun giving and receiving of gifts in celebration of God's Best Gift to us, His Son. I pray we don't get so wrapped up in our fun that we forget to be amazed at the love God has for us, that He would send His Son to be the Light of the World and our Savior.


birthday boy

as of 8:15am, i have become the proud mother of a 10-year-old boy. that's right. a whole decade! we've entered the double digits now! only 3 years till he's a teen. oh my.

happy birthday, son! i love you and am proud of the young man you are growing up to be.

his daddy found this Optimus Prime toy at Sam's Club a few months ago and just couldn't resist getting it.

these transformer toys sure are fun for a 10-year-old boy!

have a great birthday, son!


♫ ♪ it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas ♪ ♫

i've been contemplating a dilemma for a couple of weeks now.

for anyone reading this who doesn't already know, we have 2 connecting rooms that are our living and family rooms. the first is more like a multi-purpose room. someday it may be converted to a dining room, but in the meantime it's our computer, piano, school and play room. then there's our tv room which with the sofa, futon, a big recliner, a glider rocker and a couple end tables is full up with furniture. thus, my dilemma. where are we going to put our Christmas tree this year?

yesterday, i finally decided to make room for it. our school table got cleaned off, folded up, and moved to the hallway where it's now taking a vacation. {we've been using the kitchen table for school lately anyways.} i then shifted our electric piano so it's up against the wall instead of at an angle to the corner. the futon got moved from the tv room to the multi-purpose room. it's in basically the place where the school table had been and is facing the piano. it actually works nicely, since you can sit and look out the window and watch the birds if you want.

that left a nice big open space in the tv room for our tree.

so we set it up and decorated it.

it finally feels like Christmastime around here!


homemade laundry soap

i've been looking into ways to save money and came across the idea to make my own laundry soap. i was skeptical, but after learning that our local grocer carries all the "ingredients," i thought i should give it a try. i purchased what i needed on saturday and today i mixed up my first batch. it's really simple. i found a variety of "recipes" on a bunch of different websites. i just used the one that was easiest to remember.

Homemade Powdered Laundry Soap
2 cups grated Fels-Naptha (laundry bar soap)
1 cup borax
1 cup washing soda

the hardest part is grating the Fels-Naptha. otherwise, you just mix the powders together with the grated soap. easy peasy! there's only one problem with it. my husband and eldest son are both super-sensitive to fragrances...especially those found in detergents. {in fact, we typically avoid detergent aisles while shopping because the smells give T a bad headache and plugged-up nasal passages.} i've been using fragrance free laundry detergents since early in our marriage when we found one that actually worked. anyways, the Fels-Naptha drove my eldest son right out of the kitchen where we had also been working on schoolwork. i think it has a sort of citrus fragrance, but it's quite overwhelming. and by the time i had finished grating what i needed for my recipe, the back of my throat was feeling irritated just from having to smell it. ugh.

i was then worried that using this scented soap would make our laundry smell too. i went ahead and tested it on a load of towels, and was pleased when they came out smelling fresh and clean. my hubby even stuck his nose into one of the cleaned towels and didn't have a reaction to it, so i was given the go ahead to use it as long as no one develops a skin reaction to it {these guys have also been known to get rashes from fragrant detergents}. i'm already thinking that when i make my next batch, i'd like to try a fragrance free bar soap instead of the Fels-Naptha. and someday i'm gonna try the "greener living" laundry cleaner: soapnuts.

i've also started using distilled white vinegar in place of fabric softener. i was running low on our fragrance free softener sheets and although i've got a bottle of fragrance free liquid softener, i don't like the spots that it sometimes makes on my clothes. i saw the vinegar tip on many of the same websites that listed laundry soap recipes and decided to give it a go as well. i just fill my washer's fabric softener dispenser with the vinegar. it's about a half cup that gets added during the rinse cycle. i read somewhere that you can also put it in a downy ball if that's how you add softener to your wash. i found that vinegar does a decent job of softening our clothes, but i do seem to have a little more static now. vinegar is tons cheaper though, so i'll probably continue using it. if you decide to try it too, don't be alarmed if your clothes smell like vinegar after washing. the odor dissipates as the clothes dry.

do you make you own laundry soap? have any other home-made cleaner recipes, tips or suggestions? let me know all about it by leaving a comment.

it's only been a couple days since i posted this, but i think i'm going to have to dispose of this first batch after all. i've only used it on one load of clothes, but the smell from just opening the container to scoop some out overwhelms us. it's not a good sign when the smell of your laundry soap gives you a headache. i'm going to have to see how much it will cost to buy unscented laundry soap bars online and see if it's still worth making my own.


handmade christmas gifts

here it is after midnight and i'm {still} wide awake so i thought i'd put my alertness to good use and spend some quality time online. well, i'm not exactly sure if time online actually qualifies for having much quality, but i know it sure gets spent quickly enough! alas, i digress!

the Christmas season is in bloom, the Christmas celebration is just around the corner, and i've been busy knitting and crocheting gift items. i have little to no money to spend on gifts this year, so i've limited myself to using what i've already got on hand. i'm finding this decision is a good one for many reasons. first, i'm not adding to my yarn stash, rather i'm using my excess. {it's really quite like going on a diet.} second, i'm not spending money we don't have. and third, handmade gifts are, in part, a gift of the time spent making them and hopefully will be appreciated and enjoyed by their recipients all the more because of that fact.

the progress of my handmade gifts as of right now is as follows:
1 knitted gift completed
1 non-yarn {gasp!} gift that is basically finished
1 crocheted project that just needs loose ends weaved in
another crocheted project in progress
and another knit gift just started today
{and that's not counting the 5 knitting projects i'm working on for myself! }

for the rather obvious reason that i'd like to keep these gifts a surprise, i won't post photos of these works-in-progress at this point in time. :-)

i do have plans for a few more gifts depending on how much time it takes to make each one, so i'd better keep at it if i intend to have them all done by christmas!

happy knitting!